The human spine has the capacity to move in six different directions, yet often we only move our spines in a couple of ways all day long. Taking the time to move it in all directions—side bending, twisting, backward, and forward—allows your spine to experience its complete range of motion, which helps increase circulation and can boost your mood. So next time your body feels stiff or your mind seems stuck, give these six movements of the spine a shot. Kripalu Yoga teacher Janna Delgado has your back and shows you how in the sequence below.
See also 38 Health Benefits of Yoga
Seated Side Bend
Begin by sitting tall with your arms by your sides. You can sit on a blanket, bolster, or chair for more support. Inhale and sweep your arms overhead. Exhale and lower your right hand beside your right hip while lengthening your left arm and torso to the right, extending through your left fingertips. Bring your torso back to vertical on the inhale as you sweep the right hand up to meet the left overhead. Exhale and repeat on the other side, flowing from side to side for several rounds.
Benefits: Side bending brings vital oxygen to your organs and muscles, optimizing respiration.
Seated Spinal Twist
Inhale and sweep your arms overhead. Exhale and lower your left hand to your right knee and your right hand to the ground behind your sacrum, rotating your torso to the right. Inhale back to
center, arms overhead. Repeat on the left side. Continue rotating in each direction for several rounds, keeping your spine long the entire time.
Benefits: Twists stimulate your circulation, digestion, and help cultivate body awareness.
Seated Cow Pose
Inhale and sweep your arms overhead. Exhale and lower your arms down, planting your palms on your low back or clasping your hands. Draw your elbows toward one another while lifting your chest. If your hands are clasped, straighten your arms, pressing your knuckles and shoulder blades toward the floor.
Benefits: Cow Pose, a gentle heart-opener, strengthens your spine, opens your lungs, and revitalizes your entire being.
Seated Cat Pose
On an exhale, release the hands and sweep your arms out to your sides and in front of your chest, interlacing your fingers and pressing your palms forward to straighten your arms while rounding your spine. Inhale to release the hands, sweeping your arms overhead. Flow through the forward bend and backbend for several rounds, keeping your breath smooth.
Benefits: This seated variation of Cat Pose stretches your arms, releases any tension in your neck and shoulders, and softly expands your back body.
See also Poses for Your Spine