Yoga for the Spine: Lengthening Poses

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana: Revolved Side Angle Pose

Revolved Side Angle Pose

Begin with the same stance as in Utthita Parsvakonasana. Starting on the right side, bend the right knee over the right ankle, with the shin perpendicular to the floor. Twist your torso to your right and allow the back of the left upper arm or shoulder to rest on the outside of the right leg. Press your palms together and gaze upwards over the right shoulder.

Feel a comfortable resistance between the left arm and right leg to increase your twist. Your back foot may have lifted while twisting. Activate the left leg and press the outer edge of the left foot back down into the floor to stabilize. Inhale; reach forward through the crown of the head while drawing the right hip back. Exhale; twist open the upper torso to the right. Breathe deeply for five cycles; inhale back to center and switch sides.

Benefits: The revolved side angle pose strengthens and stretches the legs, knees and ankles.The pose stretches the groins, spine, shoulders, chest and lungs. It also increases stamina and improves balance.

More: Energizing Yoga Flow: Wake Up With Sun Salutations

Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana: Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose

Head to Knee Pose

Sit on the floor with your torso upright and your legs spread wide. Bend your left knee and draw your left heel into your left groin. Keep the hips spread wide, press the left foot into the groin, and ground the left bent leg to the floor. Extend the through the right leg, reaching through the right heal, and pull the right toes back toward you.

Inhale; bring your hands to the hips facing forward. Exhale; reach the right arm straight in front of you, take the left arm to the right over your head, and clasp the right toes or shin. Stay here or take the stretch deeper by bringing the right hand to the right foot as well. Inhale; stretch through the left side torso and lengthen through the extended right leg. Exhale; bend the left elbow to assist you in twisting the front torso toward the sky. Hold for 5 to 10 breath cycles, inhale to center, exhale to release, and switch sides.

Benefits: The pose stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings.

Ardha Matsyendrasana: Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Half Lord of The Fishes Pose

Start in a seated position with the legs extended forward. Inhale; bend the knees toward the sky. Drop the left knee toward the floor, facing forward, and bring the left foot underneath the right leg. Secure the left foot next to the right hip, point the toes back. To modify, keep the left leg straight.

Cross the right leg over the left bringing the right foot to the outside of the left knee. Exhale, bend the left elbow, and place the elbow or left shoulder on the outside of the right knee. Bring the right hand underneath the right shoulder. Inhale, lift the torso, and lengthen the spine.

Exhale; twist gazing over the right shoulder. Press the left shoulder into the right leg and draw the right hip down. Allow the shoulders to drop down and stay aligned as you reach upward through the spine. Stay in pose for five breath cycles, inhale back to center, exhale to release, and switch sides.

Benefits: The pose stretches the shoulders, hips and neck as well as energizes the spine.

More: 4 Yoga Poses for a Healthy Heart

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