If you work in an office, you probably spend a lot of time sitting and looking down at your keyboard or screen. Curving the spine this way doesn’t just make it more difficult to stand up straight; it makes you feel less confident too. Here are five gentle heart openers to start undoing the damage and help you walk with your head held high.
Warm up your spine with cat-cow
Before doing any kind of yoga, it’s a good idea to warm up your spine. The humble cat-cow (arching your back towards the floor, then rounding it up to the ceiling) works wonders on your back. Be mindful to articulate every vertebrae as you go – this might feel impossible to begin with, but the more you focus, the easier it becomes.
Stand with your hands clasped behind your back
Stand with your feet about as wide as your hips, and keep the core and legs switched on. For some, this might just mean tucking the tailbone in, but experiment and see what works for you. Clasp your hands behind your back, roll your shoulders down your back, and arch backwards. Don’t worry about going really far. The point is to open your chest, not to touch the floor with your head.
Take a Warrior 1 with cactus arms
If you’re not familiar with Warrior 1, work on finding the right leg position for you to get the stretch along the back hip and keep the back leg strong. Once you’re comfortable with the stance, have a go at holding the arms up at 90 degrees, as if you were a sturdy cactus in the desert, only more hydrated. This will stretch out your chest while strengthening your legs. Double win!
Not a huge fan of backbends? Take a bridge! Lie on the floor, bend your legs towards your bum, and slowly peel the hips and spine off the floor. Similar to cat-cow, focus on articulating every vertebrae to get the full benefit of the pose. If you wanted to go further, you can take full wheel. As a general rule, it’s much better for your body if you can go into and come out of wheel slowly. Slow, deliberate movements make a happy spine. If you’re throwing yourself in and then collapsing down, consider taking bridge for now.