Ever get stuck in an airplane seat where no lumbar support turns you into something hunched and rounded like Early Man?
Ever wish you had just the right support to prop up your back in an ergonomically-correct, height-adjusted way?
Well, the next pose, alas, won’t deliver that. Not in a plane, at any rate. But it will provide a very nice, easy, lumbar-spine release so long as you have the range of motion in your shoulder joints to do it.
So, here we go, in three steps:
1. Sit on your mat. (I said this was easy, didn’t I?)
2. Bend your elbows behind your back as pictured. Hands can be open, but fists provide a little better definition to what we’re doing. Notice that the forearms basically cover the lumbar spine area.
3. Lie down on top of your forearms. Relax. Breathe slowly and stay for 10-20 slow breaths, or longer if you wish, assuming that your shoulders, forearms or hands do not fall asleep. Nor you, for that matter. If you wish, vary the forearms, with the opposite one on top. Practice daily, numerous times a day, even, if your low- or mid-back need care.
Benefits: Provides one of the gentlest lumbar spine releases. Enhances or maintains your shoulder range of motion. Also, shows your friends that you’re doing yoga instead of just lying on the floor (which, mind you, there’s nothing wrong with, but they don’t know that).
Avoid if: When I introduced this pose in class on one occasion, someone asked, “Is this supposed to feel good?” The answer is yes. If your shoulders are getting forced, if any part of you isn’t relaxed in this position, either adjust it until you are relaxed, or, in the absence of that, skip it. To get the benefits of this pose, you must be relaxed; you don’t want to force the shoulder rotation and “grin and bear it” because your body won’t be able to relax
Final thoughts: I misspoke earlier. You can actually do this pose on an airplane. It’s just that it’ll annoy the hell out of the passengers and crew members trying to pass you by as you lie on the aisle.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta