Using a dowel for Mountain Pose (pictured on page 79) can relieve pressure in your lumbar spine through axial extension. If you tend to slouch or have hyperkyphosis (exaggerated rounding of your upper back), it will also help you to lift and open your chest as you pull on it.
Stand in Mountain Pose with your feet hip-width apart. Place the dowel between your feet so that it’s near the middle of your feet but slightly closer to the balls of your feet than your heels. Reach up to clasp the dowel, one hand over the other, so that your hands are roughly in front of your forehead for the best leverage. Relax your shoulders and neck. Pull down on the dowel to lengthen your spine. Imagine that you’re moving your back ribs and the back of your pelvis away from each other to prevent overarching your lower back. The action of your arms helps to draw the bottom of each of your shoulder blades down without pinching and moves your mid-thoracic spine and ribs in. Again, avoid lifting your shoulders. Hold for 5 breaths, pause, switch your hands, and then hold for another 5 breaths.