Home prac­tice: Stronger back, arms & abs

Yoga Journal - - Contents - By David Swen­son

BEN­E­FITS Strength­ens lower back mus­cles; tones ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles while stim­u­lat­ing or­gans; improves pos­ture

IN­STRUC­TION

1 Lie on your belly with your legs straight. Place your arms at your sides with palms up, your chin gen­tly rest­ing on the floor.

2 With­out lift­ing your legs or head, be­gin reach­ing for­ward through the top of your head and back through your toes. As your body length­ens, you’ll ac­ti­vate your ma­jor back mus­cles, in­clud­ing your erec­tor spinae mus­cles—cre­at­ing a sta­ble base of sup­port.

3 Con­tinue reach­ing for­ward with the top of your head and back­ward with your toes, slowly lift­ing your head, shoul­ders, and legs off the ground. Pull your legs to­gether. As you gain height, you should feel elon­ga­tion and el­e­va­tion—this will help strengthen your back while keep­ing it safe and sta­ble. Lift un­til you be­gin to feel a nat­u­ral re­sis­tance—you should feel ac­ti­vated from head to toe and with­out strain. Your breath should be flow­ing eas­ily. Now imag­ine that you’re draw­ing a line up the wall in front of you with the top of your head and one be­hind you with your toes—all while main­tain­ing an elon­ga­tion of your en­tire body.

4 Keep the backs of your hands rooted to the earth with a gen­tle, down­ward push­ing ac­tion as you extend your arms. Imag­ine that your fin­gers are grow­ing in length, reach­ing and slid­ing along the floor to­ward the back of the mat while be­ing pulled down to the earth. Hold for about 5 breaths (you can in­crease this amount over time).

5 To exit the pose, main­tain elon­ga­tion as you si­mul­ta­ne­ously lower your head, shoul­ders, and legs to the floor.

will com­pro­mise the ac­tion of your legs and add pres­sure to your lower back by dis­tribut­ing too much weight to your lower ver­te­brae.

to­ward your ears, which can strain neck mus­cles.

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