SWAN, SIDE REACH & BEND
Image a baby lying on its tummy for the first time, the head goes down and the baby struggles to be comfortable as it seeks the necessary back strength to hold up the heavy weight of the head. And then, one day, the legs begin to kick the forearms press down and the baby lifts it’s head for the first time and shows delight in the action of extending the spine. If only we could remember that feeling perhaps we would all extend our spines more often and find that feeling of freedom and length. This month we will explore some simple back extension experiences to help us strengthen the length of our backs.
Set Up of Tummy Time - Swan
- Begin by lying face-down on the floor with your legs extended behind you, a few inches apart. The tops of your feet can rest comfortably on the ground - for now avoid tucking your toes.
- Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingers pointing toward the top of the mat. Hug your elbows in to the sides of your body.
- With an exhale press down through the hands and image that you have a light on your chest that will light up the end of your mat in front of you as you lift your chest.
- Keep your ribs in contact with the floor but if you feel comfortable you can come higher drawing the flesh of the abdomen in to support the bones of the spine.
- Draw your shoulders back and your chest forward, lengthen your neck. Beginners and those with neck pain should keep their gaze toward the floor. Those with more flexibility can bring their gaze out in front of them just as a baby would do to see its mother.
- Explore, allowing the natural extension of your spine to be present and the whole of your back lengthen. There should be almost no weight on your hands — experiment lifting your palms off the mat for a moment.
- Take a few breaths at the top of your extension before returning to the ground. Repeat a few times to increase the strength in your back.
Side Bend and Reach
- Still on your tummy with your hands pointing forward and the feet relaxed reach your right arm out to the side level with your shoulder on the floor.
- Once you have reached out as far as you can start to reach toward your right knee in a side bend.
- Your left hand can assist you in this action by pressing gently down into the ground.
- Your chest and torso will naturally lift from the ground in a spine extension, lift as far as you feel comfortable concentrating on allowing the movement to be as smooth as you can.
- The action of spine extension with a lateral bend, will hopefully feel good and bring energy into your body.
- After both of these movement experiences feel free to either roll back over to your back and try Happy Baby which we did together last month or press back into childs pose.
Tummy Time can be a great way to stretch out your spine and chest throughout the day. It counteracts the slouch that comes from sitting in front of a computer or driving. Bringing more flexibility to your spine will help you to feel more balanced, while opening your chest and heart will energize and rejuvenate you throughout the day!
Not recommended for individuals suffering from any back issues that limit spine extension. Please consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.