Take a Yoga Break: A Simple, Stress-Busting Pose
High Stress and Low Back Pain
If you aren’t experiencing one of these conditions at least some of the time yours is a charmed life. If you find yourself coping with both much of the time you are living what passes for a normal life these days. There are countless yogic techniques for soothing stress and at least a dozen others for relieving tension in the lower back, but if you are looking to loosen the grip of both with one exercise, look no further than the crocodile pose. You can do this simplest of postures anywhere there’s a clean rug and a modicum of privacy. Here’s how:
Stretch out face-down with your legs about hip-width apart. The toes can point in or out—it doesn’t matter. Fold your arms and place your hands on the opposite elbows, drawing the elbows in so that the shoulders and upper chest are off the floor. Rest your forehead on your folded arms. Close your eyes and let go—relaxing your face, shoulders, abdomen, pelvis, legs, and feet.
As you soften the abdomen, letting the breath flow in and out in its own rhythm, the nervous system quiets and emotional tension drains away.
Breathe through your nose and notice the abdominal muscles pressing against the rug as you inhale and your body relaxing as you exhale. As you soften the abdomen, letting the breath flow in and out in its own rhythm, the nervous system quiets and emotional tension drains away.
When you bring your attention to your lower back you will find the muscles that support the back when you stand and sit have relaxed. And as your relaxation deepens, the back of the waist and the lower back expand with the inhalation and soften with the exhalation, banishing the vise-like tension that often grips this area.
Even as little as ten minutes a day in the crocodile pose can help break the cycle of chronic stress by calming the nervous system and easing tension in the lower back.
Time Out for the Crocodile
Besides helping you unwind and releasing stress in the lower back, the crocodile is the entrée to pranayama practice. This deceptively simple pose:
- Helps break the habit of chest breathing
- Trains the mind to observe the body
- Increases digestive fire by gently massaging the abdomen
- Provides a glimpse of the benefits of breath awareness