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Monday, September 19, 2016

Tip of the Week: Floor Bow Pose

The last of the of spine strengthening series postures works on the entire spine. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get the most out of this posture.

1. Lying on the belly, bend the knees, reach back and grab the outside of each foot, two inches below the toes. Keep the knees and feet as close together as possible and make sure that the wrists stay straight (*read more on this below). 

2. Roll your shoulders onto your back so that the heads of your arm bones lift off the floor and the shoulder blades move towards each other. 

3. Exhale and contract through the abdominal region in order to lengthen the lower back and bring support to the spine. 

4. Inhale and lengthen out through the crown of your head.  At the same time, keeping the knees hip width apart, press the feet back into the hands, creating a natural lift. For more strength, push the hips and pelvis into the floor before lifting the legs up and back. 

5. Release the shoulders back as the torso keeps lifting and roll the body weight forward to balance on the center of the abdomen (not too far forward on your ribs or too far back on your hip bones)

6. Just as in Standing Bow Pose, it's more about the KICK than the pull of your arms. With each breath press the feet back and up into your hands, gradually increasing the back bend, keeping the spine long. Maintain the supportive contraction of the abdominal muscles to counter any pressure going into the lower spine. 

7. Use inner thigh strength to make sure the knees don’t splay out too wide – keep the knees and feet six inches apart. Bringing the heels together with the toes pointed outwards helps to keep your thighs together.

8. Keep looking up! Try to look up towards your toes and one day you will see them! Looking up during this posture helps to complete the benefit for the cervical spine (neck) and helps to tone the muscles surrounding the eyes while stretching the ocular nerve. 

80-20 breathing is very important during this posture. Read more on that by clicking (here)

*From our blog entry on 10/23/12: If you are bending your wrists, it is a sure sign that you are using the strength of your arms instead of the strength of your legs. Bow Pose is all about the KICK. Instead of holding on to the feet, think of yourself as ‘hanging’ from your feet, using your fingers only. You kick your legs up and back behind you. This pulls on your arms. The arms have hold of the feet only through the grip of the hands (the only active part of your arms). The kick of the legs pulls the arms back allowing a surrender of the shoulders so that they get pulled behind you as well.

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