Sometimes, to get a good yoga pose, you need a few props.
The Supine Spinal Suspension falls in the category of poses that, aside from the hypnotic alliteration, I refer to as “maximum propage poses.” You’ll see what I mean.
You need: a yoga block, a strap or belt, and a small ball: preferably as squishy as a beach ball, because your back is about to rest on it, so you don’t want your overworked spine to press against something as small as a tennis ball, or as hard as one. After all, this is a make-your-body-feel-good kind of position.
It’s a simple pose and it feels great too. It takes longer to describe than to get into it:
1. Grab a ball and put it somewhere in your upper back, as pictured.
2. Here’s another view, to get a sense of the general size of the ball and its location.
3. Lie down on the ball and grab the block.
4. Slip the block under your head. The block has three heights: flat, intermediate and tall. Pick the one where your head, neck and back feel the best and optimally supported…which may be the tallest height. Now grab a strap.
5. Raise your legs and place the strap around your heels. (I prefer heels rather than arches or balls of the feet—it’s more relaxing.) Place your hands high up enough on the strap that your shoulders and arms hang limply off the floor. Stay for five long breaths. Or 15. Or 500. It’s kind of a nice pose to relax into.
Benefits: A very relaxing pose that does away with tension in your back and shoulders, provides you with a gentle inversion, and adds some lumbar extension and gentle hamstring extension for good measure too. So long as you have the props, this pose can be done by just about anyone easily and safely.
Avoid if: If your upper back is so curved that resting the head on the block feels awkward and puts uncomfortable pressure on your cervical vertebrae; if you can’t raise the legs to a vertical enough position to let them relax in place and feel that your arms have to do a lot of the work of keeping the legs up; or if you’re otherwise adamant about not adding one more prop to your ever-growing list of yoga accoutrements, then you might want to skip this pose in favor of some other more amenable one.
Final thoughts: If you liked this pose you but thought this was a lot of props, I invite you to join my Saturday morning 7:00 a.m. class (a time that’s popular, I hear, with parents who need to sneak out of the house to get some much-needed yoga and get back before their kids start wreaking havoc on the world). In these classes we use: two blocks, one strap, one ball, two hand weights, and not one but two yoga mats, one of which is laid out under, and perpendicular to, the other. Now that’s a lot of props. On the other hand, with so many toys to play with, that hour and a half goes by in a flash!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Ricardo das Neves
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own