Purpose: To work the muscles of your waistline (oblique abdominals) and wring the stale air from your lungs as you stretch the muscles of your back.
- Sit very tall with your arms stretched to either side of the room; palms down, fingers long. Legs are straight and held tightly together; toes point up to the ceiling.
- Inhale deeply, pull your navel into your spine; as if you were being cinched at the waist.
- Exhale, for 3 counts, twist your torso to the right. Lengthen and increase the rotation with the next 2 breaths. Release slightly between breaths. You can sustain one long exhalation or a gradual exhales on each count.
- Look toward your back arm as you turn. Stay perched on top of your hips, lifting taller and straighter; squeezing your buttocks and legs.
- Inhale deeply, return to center with your chest high. Keep your arms in your peripheral vision, shoulders down.
- Repeat to the left side, lifting even taller and longer through the waist; returning to center.
- Repeat 3-5 sets on each side.
Visualization: Imagine you are wringing the air out of your body as you would wring water from a wet towel.
Modifications: Sit on a foam cushion, the edge of the mat or cross-legged if you have tightness in your lower back, hamstrings or hip flexors.
Head to Toe Checklist:
- Don’t let the back shoulder hunch up when turning.
- Legs should stay aligned when twisting.
- Use your breath to increase the stretch.
- Don’t sink into your back as you twist. Lift tall out of your waist.
- Squeeze buttocks and upper thighs tightly together during the exercise.
Note: Omit the exercise if you have a recent back injury. If you have a bad shoulder, reach back only within a pain-free range.