Ease lower back stiff­ness with Thread the Nee­dle pose

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - YUMEE CHUNG YuMee Chung is a re­cov­er­ing lawyer who teaches yoga in Toronto. She is on the fac­ulty of a num­ber of yoga teacher train­ing pro­grams and leads in­ter­na­tional yoga re­treats. Learn more about her at pad­mani.com. Spe­cial to the Toronto Star

Is your lower back prone to stiff­ness? Do for­ward bends and hip open­ers leave you feel­ing stuck? Ever wish you could fly away dur­ing pi­geon pose? If so, try this safe and ac­ces­si­ble re­clin­ing outer hip opener. Thread the Nee­dle 1. To be­gin, come onto your back with knees bent and feet rest­ing on the floor, hip dis­tance apart.

2. Cross your right an­kle over the left thigh, close to the kneecap. Keep the lower leg from col­laps­ing out­ward by flex­ing the an­kle and press­ing the pinky side of the foot into the op­po­site leg. As a bonus, this ac­tion will strengthen the outer an­kle.

3. With­out los­ing this align­ment, bring your legs close enough to your chest to thread the right hand through the tri­an­gu­lar open­ing be­tween your legs and in­ter­lace the fin­gers of both hands around the left shin, or be­hind the fold of the knee if the shin is out of reach.

4. Use your arms to draw the left kneecap to­ward your left shoul­der

while si­mul­ta­ne­ously see-saw­ing the right kneecap away from you.

5. Deepen the ex­pe­ri­ence by press­ing your tail­bone into the earth and al­low­ing the lower back to curve gen­tly away from your mat.

6. Re­lax your face and count five slow breaths be­fore switch­ing sides.

Make this opener a reg­u­lar part

of your prac­tice and you’ll have poses like Pi­geon and Cob­bler sewn up in no time.

MAR­CUS OLENIUK, TORONTO STAR

Bring your legs close enough to your chest to thread the right hand through the open­ing be­tween your legs.

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