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This posture can deliver a profound experience if you often stand lopsided. Distributing your weight evenly brings immediate relief to your low back.
A Close your eyes and bring awareness to the soles of your feet. Notice how you stand. Where do you feel the most pressure? In the balls of your feet or your heels? On the inside or outside lines of your feet? Are all 10 toes on the floor? Make micromovements until you sense your weight is evenly distributed in the both feet. When you sense that your body weight is balanced, open your eyes.
B Turn your palms forward and stretch your arms outward in a big circle until they extend overhead with the palms facing each other. This is Utthita Tadasana (Extended Mountain Pose) and it stretches the spinal column, lengthening and opening spaces between your vertebrae.
See also Mountain Pose
2. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
A Hang over like a rag doll. Take 3–6 deep breaths. Relax deeply into each exhalation and allow the weight of your torso to open your spine and stretch muscles along the back of your body.
Watch a demonstration of Uttanasana
B If vertigo is present or your balance feels shaky, use a chair and place your palms on the seat when you bend forward. Look straight down at the chair seat and adjust your head so that the back of your neck feels comfortable.
See also More Forward Bend Poses
C Another option is Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend). Keep a slight bend in your knees. Instead of lowering your head, keep it aligned with your heart. This option is helpful for those with high or low blood pressure. Return to Mountain Pose. Bring your finger tips to your waist and maintain a slight bend in your knees. Press into your feet, take a deep breath in, and straighten your legs to stand upright.
3. Ardha chandrasana (Half Moon Pose variation)
A This posture can be adapted depending on the range of motion in your shoulders. Stretching and increasing flexibility of the intercostal muscles (located between your ribs) is a key to regaining balance. Place your left hand on your waist and raise your right arm. Take a breath in and exhale as you bend to the right. Inhale upright. Lower your right hand to your waist and lift your left arm. Side bend to the left. Repeat at least two more times on each side. (The deepest option is the full expression of Half Moon Pose if that is already part of your practice.)
B For a gentler option, keep both hands on your waist. Bend at least 3 times on each side.
Watch a video demonstration of Half Moon Pose.
4. Gentle backbend
A Return to Extended Mountain Pose. Take a breath and reach your extended arms back. Exhale as you look up. Hold for 3 deep breaths and release your arms alongside your body on the third exhalation.
See also More Standing Poses
B For a supported backbend, place your hands at your lower back with your elbows slightly drawn back. Take a breath, filling your chest, and lift your heart center, or breastbone. Look up as you exhale for 3 breaths.
See also Yoga Backbends
5. Tiptoe Balance Posture
A From Mountain Pose, inhale to the count of four as you lift onto your tiptoes; hold the inhalation and stay on your toes for a count of four and then exhale, 1…2…3…4, as you lower your heels to the floor. Do 4 sets to stretch your feet and strengthen your toes, ankles, and legs.
B Tiptoe balancing helps to bring the spinal column into natural alignment and it can be practiced around the house anywhere there is a surface, such as a chair back, countertop, or vanity. Place your fingers on the surface. Do 4 sets.
End in Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 10 minutes. Then, follow it with a short 3-minute meditation, increasing the duration over time. Sit still and quiet and become aware of how your breath feels. If you find you are thinking or clinging to thoughts, let them go and return to feeling your breath.
Watch it For a guided meditation, go to yogajournal.com/janalongmeditation.
I recommend Pawanmuktasana, or the joint-freeing series from the Bihar School of Yoga. If your joints are stiff, movement will be limited. This series of small joint movements stimulates flow of synovial fluid at friction points where tendons pass over bones in your shoulders, fingers, hips, and knees. Move your spine in five directions daily: Stretch up, fold forward, sidebend from right to left and left to right, and gently backbend. These are the “gold star” movements that should be a regular part of your home practice. This sequence can be used as a warm-up or as your main asana practice.
Practice the joint-freeing series with Jana Long at yogajournal.com/yogaforseniors
About the author
Jana Long is a certified yoga therapist and a Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider. She is also writer, a certified Master Gardener, and an ardent student of astrology. Learn more at powerofonecenter.com.