This pandemic is not only associated with covid symptoms. Many have back pain after sitting for months on a kitchen stool, slumped over a laptop, or on our couches. The spines were not designed to handle the number of videoconferences and Netflix binges or our limited access to physiotherapists and massage therapists. Even after addressing the ergonomic problems and moving our bodies, we experience several pings and pains.
Here is a yin routine that will help us to get our backs in a better place and prevent further discomfort. This 60-minute sequence requires a bolster and two blocks. You may also need one or two blankets.
Sit comfortably in a seated position. Raise your crown to the ceiling. Your spine should feel tall, and your neck should be aligned so you don’t feel as heavy. Relax your hips and shoulders. Tuck your chin in and slightly retract your shoulders. Inhale deeply. After five minutes, try to stand up.
DANGLING/SQUAT COMBINATION: SIX MINUTES TOTAL (2 MINUTES DANGLING AND 1 MINUTE SQUAT DONE ONCE)
Your knees should be relaxed standing with your legs open and hip-width apart. Fold forward, clasping your elbows in opposite directions with your hands. Or rest your elbows against your thighs.
Try clasping your hands behind your legs and rounding your spine slightly if you don’t feel any stretch in your hamstrings.
Hold for 2 minutes, then move into a deep Squat. As you lower and flex your hips, move your toes and heels further apart as you drop your body. Your toes should point out at 45 degrees. Press your elbows against the inside of your knees. Then, push your knees towards your elbows to counter-pressure. Bring your hands in front of your chest, lift your chest, and gaze.
You can put a mat or blanket under your heels if not on the ground. Hold for a minute.
Place your hands on your floor and raise your hips to come out. Bring your feet to hip-width and dangle again. This time, try to straighten out your legs more. Hold for two minutes, then squat for another minute. After your second squat, you should sit on the mat and extend your legs in front of yourself. Support your weight with your hands behind your hips. Shake out each leg.
BENT-KNEE TWIST: SIX MINUTES (THREE MINUTES ON EACH SIDE)
Lean backward. Bring both knees to your chest by shifting your hips left a few inches. Allow your arms to form a T, then lower both knees to the right. They can rest on a blanket or a bolster. Reach your left hand overhead, and if your shoulder lifts from the floor, support it with a blanket folded in half.
Then, hold for three minutes and bring your left hand back into the T. Bring your knees up to your chest while letting the soles of the feet rest on your mat. Your hips should be shifted back to your midline, then to the right by one or two inches. Then, twist to the right and sit up.
SUPPORTED SPHINX: FIVE MINUTES
As you lie on your stomach, your feet should be extended, and your pelvis and tops of your foot should press into the mat. Placing a bolster beneath your chest. Place a bolster under your chest.
Check your lower back for any mild sensations. Remove the bolster and place your forehead on your fists or forearms if you feel a strong sensation.
If you feel the stretch is insufficient, place your forearms against the bolster. You can bend your knees to allow your heels to drop toward your glutes.
After five minutes, remove your bolster if you still use one and place your chest on the mat. Stacked fists or forearms will support your forehead. From there, slowly ease yourself into a seated posture.
CATERPILLAR: SIX MINUTES (5 MINUTES PLUS A 1-MINUTE CONTRAPOSE)
Keep your ankles and knees relaxed, and extend your legs in front of yourself. Sit on a folded blanket or bolster if you want to elevate your hips. You can place a blanket or blocks underneath your knees if you like. Fold forward while allowing your head to release and your spine to round. Tilt your pelvis forward and down. You can then place a block or bolster under your head and on your thighs to provide extra support.
Keep this pose for 5 minutes. Slowly lift your head, and lengthen your back to leave this pose. Place the soles of your feet on the ground, and bend your knees. Remove any props if necessary. Put your hands on the floor behind you (fingers facing either your hips or the opposite direction, depending on what is most comfortable). You can use your hands to raise and lower your hips so that your shoulders align with your wrists. Your knees should be directly above your ankles. You can do this counterpose for one minute.
Three Minutes for a COW AND A CAT with Lateral Bends
Incorporate tabletop. Inhale on all fours to lift your heart, gaze, and tailbone. Reach your chest away from your tailbone and let your navel fall toward the ground. Exhale and round your back. Draw your navel towards your spine, and look at your legs and stomach. Continue to breathe for five total breaths. Bend your spine to the left as if you were trying to bring together your left shoulder. Look over your left shoulder and feel the stretch in your neck. Switch sides.
Repeat the process four more times for each side, for five repetitions on each.
SUPPORTED FISH: FIVE MINUTES
Sit down. Place the bolster about a third down from the edge of your mat. This will allow you to lie on your back with your lower back supported and the bolster’s top in line with your bottom tips of shoulder blades. You can either place the crown of your hair on the mat or use a block at the lowest setting. You can place your hands or your arms on your belly.
Raise your arms above your head and rest them on the floor.
You can either extend your legs out or bend your knees.
After five minutes, you can slowly move to the side. Use your hands to help yourself get into a sitting position. The bolster can be moved to one side.