Here’s a relaxing way to elongate and straighten your spine and side body. If you have health issues (particularly back problems) you should get the okay from a health professional before trying this relaxation exercise just to ensure you are doing the best for your back.
1) Place a Cylindrical Bolster across the middle of your mat.
2) Stack three Chip Foam Blocks and centre them half a foot or so closer to the top of your mat.
3) Lie down on your side and adjust the distance between the bolster and the blocks according to your proportions. The bolster goes under your waist while the stack of chip foam blocks goes under your head like a pillow. Told you this was going to be relaxing!
4) Place your head down on to the chip foam blocks slowly — if you feel any discomfort as you approach the blocks, come up and place more height under your head. You can use dense blankets or more chip foam blocks. Raise the level until you can lie on your side, head resting on your blocks without any discomfort. If you’re quite flexible, you may find that you can rest your head directly on your mat and may even need to add blanket height to your bolster to feel the side stretch.
5) Now observe the side of your body facing the ceiling. Is there a good stretch happening in there, without straining the spine? That’s what you’re going for. If you don’t feel the stretch, lower yourself one chip foam block at a time until you do. This is a gentle yet powerful stretch, so make sure you don’t overdo it. Too little is way better for you than too much.
You should feel a wonderful stretch through your side that both elongates your waist and feels pleasantly calming and rejuvenating. Too much stretch and you won’t feel relaxed. Too little stretch and you won’t feel the pleasurable intensity.
6) Relax and breathe deeply into your tight spots!As long as you’re relaxed and free from any discomfort, you can rest in this position, letting the bolster and your breath do the work. When you’re ready, roll or slide your bolster a little further up your side – maybe 2 or 3 inches – and lie back down. Continue this all the way up one side, and then roll over and do the other. You can do the same stretching exploration while lying on your back.
Ahhhh…feels great, doesn’t it? Rinse and repeat as desired. I hope these exercises will give you immediate benefit and get you into a more relaxed state of mind. Stay tuned because I’ve got even more tips on how to get greater spinal satisfaction. Check back soon.
Che Nolan is a propologist with a major in bolsterology and an Iyengar yoga practitioner with a daily meditation practice. He’s also a writer and a regular Halfmoon contributor.