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When the days and weeks seem shorter than you want, there can be a tendency to skimp on the things that you need. That can work in your favor when it comes to perceived needs, like your third iced coffee or your 73rd scroll through Instagram. But when you compromise on your actual needs, like putting off learning how to stretch your lower back and soothe your tight or aching muscles, can actually slow you down as you make your way through the rest of your day.
The following yoga practice teaches you how to stretch your lower back in 10 minutes or less without even standing up. It’s effective and efficient. And it’s so simple, you can commit it to memory after you practice it once or twice and come back to it anytime you have a few quiet moments. You can even practice it in bed.
A curious thing happens when you take time to ensure you feel your physical best. You no longer need distractions from your body’s stiffness or soreness. It’s a life hack of the most beneficial sort. And you’ll start to experience the efficiency of it on day one.
How to Stretch Your Lower Back in 10 Minutes—Without Standing Up
1. Sit Cross-Legged
Sit in any sort of cross-legged position, including Sukhasana (Easy Pose) or you can draw your heels closer toward your opposite hips. If it feels more comfortable, sit on a folded blanket or block. Close your eyes and start to lengthen the time it takes to inhale and exhale. Stay here until you slow your breath and find ease in it.
2. Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose)
Lie on your back and draw both knees toward your chest. You can rest your hands on your shins or reach and clasp opposite hands or forearms around your shins. Stay still or gently rock side to side, massaging your back body and lower back. Play with curling your pubic bone toward your navel to lift your low back off the mat slightly and then release it to the mat. Stay here for 8-10 breaths.
3. Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Twist)
With your knees drawn into your chest, release your arms straight out from your shoulders in a T shape, palms up or down. Release both shoulder blades into the mat as you inhale deeply. As you exhale, slowly lower both knees to the right, stacking them in Reclined Twist. Stay here for 4–5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
4. Marjaryasana-Bitilasana (Cat-Cow)
Come to your hands and knees, aligning your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. As you inhale, arch your spine, drawing your chest forward and up.
As you exhale, round your spine, pushing the floor away with both hands, lifting your navel toward your spine, and releasing your head and neck. Repeat 4-5 times or more if you like.
Still on all fours, gently lift your navel to your spine to engage your abdominal muscles. Inhale and extend your right arm forward and your left leg straight behind you. Keep your inner left thigh turning skyward. Exhale as you bring your right elbow and left knee toward each other, rounding your spine and bringing your chin toward your chest. Inhale and reach your right arm forward and left leg back. Do this 4-5 times on each side.
5. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Bring your big toes to touch and keep your knees together or slide them wider than your knees. Ease your hips back toward your heels while your arms remain extended in Child’s Pose. You can rest your hands or press your fingertips into the mat. Place a block or blanket beneath your forehead if that’s more comfortable. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Linger here for 16-20 breaths.
Take at least a few breaths to settle into Savasana. If it’s more comfortable, slide a rolled blanket or a firm pillow beneath your knees to relieve pressure on your lower back. Bring your attention back to your breath. Stay here for as long as you can.
This article has been updated. Originally published January 4, 2016.
About Our Contributor
Yoga teacher and model Grace Flowers started her practice more than 15 years ago. A student of Annie Carpenter, Maty Ezraty, Erich Schiffmann, Shiva Rea, Saul David Raye, and numerous others, Grace has a unique teaching style that encourages artistic exploration in her students. Learn more at graceflowersyoga.com.
This content was originally published here.