Spine health is vital to our overall health.
Our spines support and protect our brain, spinal cord, and nervous system. It is, after all, what keeps us upright – literally.
The thing is, we often ignore or put off simple strategies to live more comfortably. When we neglect intentional spine movement, we’re essentially abandoning our bodies to damage incurred by living. We won’t walk as easily or bend as flexibly or stand as straight. Our spines do everything for us. We can give a little something back.
But, it’s easy to forget to consciously move your spine.
The grind is real: running errands, driving kids from activity to activity, managing your team at work, and maintaining your household. These responsibilities make a busy life that doesn’t always leave room for tending to your own body and mind.
Luckily, with these six free and easy ways to move your spine, you don’t have to go very far – you don’t even have to get out of bed!
The spine moves in six directions: forward, backward, side to side, prone (lying face down), supine (lying face up), and twisted. Here’s one yoga posture for each direction.
Kneel with feet together and knees wide, and extend your torso toward the floor. Stretch your arms long in front of you. Relax your belly in the open space between your knees.
If your head doesn’t meet the floor in this easy and free way to move your spine, then bring the floor up to you with props – maybe a bolster or a pillow or folded blankets.
Do not worry if you don’t have the “traditional” yoga props. No bolster? Use a couch cushion. No blankets? Use towels or bed linens. No blocks? Use books. Throw a towel over those if they’re too hard.
In Child’s Pose, your spine is neutral. It’s your hips that are open. If that’s uncomfortable, bring your knees together and rest your belly on them. Breathe into your chest.
When you’re ready for some movement, you’ll walk your hands over to the right. This stretches the left side body. Breathe into your left side.
Come back to the center when you’re ready.
Then you’ll do pretty much the same thing on the other side. Walk your hands to the left. Breathe into your right side. Then come back to the center.
From Child’s Pose, slide forward onto your belly. Extend your legs long behind you. Stack one hand on top of the other under your forehead, like a little pillow for your head to rest on. Breathe in this position and feel how your whole body relaxes.
If this feels uncomfortable for your low back, you might try using a square folded blanket placed at your low belly or a blanket roll under your ankles.
From Crocodile, position your elbows under your shoulders, push into them, and draw your shoulder blades down your back. Open your chest. This is a backbend. Shine your heart forward. Keep the back of the neck long with a gentle tuck of the chin.
There are a few solutions if this feels uncomfortable for your low back. Walk your elbows further away from your body to take some of the pressure off. Try a folded blanket under your ribs for extra support.
For a deeper backbend, walk your elbows closer to your body. Extend your elbows so your arms are more in a V-shape rather than being straight in front of your body.
When you’re ready to come out, find the floor again like you did in Crocodile. Then pause in Table Top position with your hands and knees on the floor, shoulders over wrists, and hips over knees. Toes tucked under or pressing into the floor. Feel your spine in a neutral position for a moment before coming to a seat.
Once seated, there are many options for positioning your legs. Feet together, knees wide, like in Child’s Pose, except in front of you instead of behind you. Legs extended long in front of you. Legs open wide in a V-shape. Or, lastly, a simple cross-legged position. Once your legs are comfortable, you’ll fold right over them in this fourth way to move your spine.
You can allow your spine to round here since the other postures encourage a straight spine.
Inhale to come up slowly, and pause for the exhale.
For this next way to move your spine, you’ll come down to lie on your back. Extend one leg long and hug the other knee into your chest. Cross that knee over the opposite side of the body for a knee-down twist.
For example, if you’ve got the right knee in your chest, then you’ll cross that knee over the left side of the body. Hold the outer thigh with your left hand and extend your right hand to the right. You can keep your gaze above you, or you might look to the right as well, so the neck stays aligned with the cervical spine.
Next, you’ll switch sides coming through the center. Hug both knees in and extend the right leg long. Cross the left leg over the right side of the body. Gaze above you or to the left as well.
When you’re all done with your twist, come through center and hug your knees into your chest again.
This much-loved pose starts with extending your legs out long. Rest your arms at your sides, slightly away from the body, palms up in a gesture of receiving. This is Savasana, or Corpse Pose, a supine position, and the last way to move your spine.
Now you and your spine are both ready to get up and go about your day!
Is there a way to move your spine that you like more than the others? Tell me in the comments!
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