In my Spring 2015 newsletter, I introduced an exercise for your spine called Camel Ride, which involves moving the full length of the spine rhythmically forward and backwards.
In this issue, I’d like to introduce you a pose called Crescent Moon, which flexes the spine sideways to maintain spinal flexibility and stretch out the muscles between your ribs – called the intercostals – that help to regulate breathing. Flexible intercostals allow you to take deeper breaths, which can be extremely valuable for relieving stress.
Here’s how to enjoy the benefits of
- Stand upright with your feet together.
- Bring your arms up over your head, palms together. Interlace your fingers, and release your index fingers so they point up towards the ceiling.
- Inhale slowly, bringing your belly button in and up as you do, and stretch your fingers up to make yourself as tall as you can be from your feet to your fingertips.
- Bring your arms back so that your biceps are close to your ears. Rotate your arms to bring your elbows forward – this will lower your shoulders away from your ears. It’s ok to bend your elbows here if you’d like.
- Bend slowly to the right from the waist without twisting your spine at all. If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, come out of the bend a bit, spread your feet apart a little bit, and pigeon-toe your feet.
- If your back feels ok, try gently pressing your left hip farther to the left to bring the stretch into the entire left side of your body.
- Breathe deeply into the left side of your body.
- Hold for 30-45 seconds, inhale slowly back upright, and repeat on the left.
If you have shoulder pain or injuries, you can keep one or both arms down for this.