Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana

Setu Bandhasana
Setu Bandhasana

Bridge pose is therapeutic in several areas of the body. It is a supported back-bending pose, an extreme forward fold to lengthen the neck and massage the thyroid as well as a shoulder opener. It especially tones the back body and thighs.
Lying on your back bring your feet in close to your body. Tighten your abdominal muscles to draw the tailbone off the floor. Press your heels down into the floor and slowly peel your spine up off the floor. You’ll feel the gluteal muscles and hamstrings engaging as you lift and hold. Stay 5-8 breaths and slowly lower down letting each back bone touch the mat as you uncurl. Repeat and rest in flat on your back in savasana or other relaxation pose.

Setu Bandhasana - supported
Setu Bandhasana – supported

Sage’s Twist

Sage's Twist
Sage’s Twist

Sage’s Twist is a lovely way to unwind the spine, wring out tension, breathe in length and correct imbalances in the back. Sit on your knees, padding under you ankles if needed for comfort. Slide over to one side. Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale and use the core and abdominal muscles to move you into the twist. Then support with one hand on your knee and the other arm like a second spine behind you. Inhale to settle into the pose and exhale the head and eyes around to continue the twist if comfortable. To deepen the twist in a healthy back try pressing the front knee away from your body as you exhale.

Tricky cat: Leg lifts with and without arm extension

Tricky Cat
Tricky Cat

From all fours exhale firmly, lifting the belly up towards your spine. Draw one knee in toward your chest and then, with the lower leg relaxed, extend your leg behind you. Hold the leg out or keep moving it in and out with your breath. You should feel muscle activity in your gluteal and upper thigh. To challenge your balance, add the opposite arm, lifting it as your leg extends. This can help balance and strengthen the muscles in your back. Try 8 repetitions on each side and then rest in child’s pose.

Tricky Cat Modification
Tricky Cat Modification

Balasana or Child’s Pose

Balasana
Balasana – Child’s Pose

This feel-good pose is wonderful for relaxation, lower back release, digestive massage and surrender. Widen legs apart if it feels tight. Inhale kneeling to lengthen your spine and fold forward. Rest on your forehead or hairline if your nose smashes. Breathe deeply and soften as you exhale. Focus on the movement of your breath as it gently presses your belly into your thighs. Allow yourself time to become restful.

Modified Balasana
Modified Balasana

If the variation above is uncomfortable try stacking blankets or a firm pillow.  Open the knees a bit and place the bolster or blankets between your knees.  Inhale kneeling to lengthen your spine and fold forward.  Soften as you exhale and enjoy your rest.