Benefits: strengthens spine and abdominal organs, relieves stress and promotes natural curve of lower back
Hold for: one to five minutes (if comfortable)
- Lie on belly, feet hip-width a part
- Prop yourself up by placing elbows under shoulders, palms flat
- Gently shake your butt to release tension in the pelvis
- Continue to take deep, steady breaths
- Gently lower the upper body to the floor to come out of stretch
Stretch 2: Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose)
Hold for: 5 to 15 minutes, unless tingling in feet occurs
*Some yogis recommend women avoid this stretch when menstruating
- Lie down on the floor with your buttocks against the wall
- Extend legs against wall, flexing toes towards your face (knees can remain slightly bent if straightening is uncomfortable)
- Keep your gaze straight up. Don’t look around or move neck side to side
- If feet or legs start to tingle, bring them back down to promote blood flow
- To come out of this stretch, gently slide legs off the wall before turning to the side
Hold for: alternate between these stretches, moving with your breath, ten to twenty times.
- Begin on all fours, knees under hips/pelvis, hands in line with shoulders
- As you inhale raise your ‘sit-bones’ (bones in buttocks) towards the sky, belly drops towards the floor, raise your chin and gaze slightly up
- As you exhale draw your ‘sit-bones’ back down together and arch spine towards the ceiling, gazing down at your thighs
- Ensure your shoulder blades draw down and back away from your ears.
- Keep alternating between these two poses, moving steadily with your breath
Stretch 4: Ardha Matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes/half spinal twist)
Benefits: energises spine, stimulates liver and kidney function, and relieves menstrual pain
Hold for: 30 seconds to a minute, then swap sides
- Sit down on floor, legs out straight
- Bend right leg and place right foot over left leg onto the floor (outside the left thigh)
- Bend your left leg and draw your left foot towards your right hip. If both ‘sit bones’ are unable to remain on the floor while doing this then keep your left leg out straight
- Place right hand behind the base of the spine and inhale as you lift your left arm up and place your left elbow behind your right knee
- Exhale as you gently twist towards your right. You should feel the rotation in your upper mid back.
- Don’t force your neck, and maintain for a few breaths.
- Swap and complete stretch on other side
Stretch 5: Ustrasana (camel pose)
Benefits: promotes spinal health, opens shoulders and chest, strengthens and energises spine
Hold for: 30 seconds to a minute
*Yogis do not recommend women doing this stretch when pregnant
- Sit on both heels in a kneeling position, knees hip width apart
- Raise hips and place both hands on the lower spine to provide support, fingers pointing down
- Begin to press pelvis forward and open the chest, draw the elbows slightly towards each other, lift the gaze slightly towards ceiling
- For a more enhanced stretch, engage the core and drop hands to your heels, placing thumbs on the outside. Continue to breathe deeply
- To exit stretch, draw chin to chest, return hands to the lower back, activate core and inhale to come up slowly.
*If you currently suffer from any sort of injury, especially a back injury, please seek advice from your health professional before performing any of these stretches. Also note that these stretches are not to be forced. No pain should be felt during the stretch. If pain occurs, please refrain from doing these poses immediately and consult your healthcare professional.