If you aren’t experiencing high stress or low back pain 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 crocodile pose. You can do this simplest of postures anywhere there’s a clean rug and a modicum of privacy.
Even as little as ten minutes a day in crocodile can help break cycles of chronic stress and ease physical tension.
Stretch out face-down with your legs about hip-width apart. Your feet can point in or out—it doesn’t matter. Fold your arms and place your hands on opposite elbows, drawing your elbows in so that your shoulders and upper chest are off the floor. Rest your forehead on your folded arms. Close your eyes or soften your gaze and rest—relaxing your face, shoulders, abdomen, pelvis, legs, and feet.
As you soften your abdomen, letting the breath flow in and out in its own rhythm, the nervous system quiets and emotional tension can begin to soften.
Breathe through your nose and notice your abdominal muscles pressing against the floor as you inhale and your body relaxing as you exhale. As you soften your abdomen, letting your breath flow in and out in its own rhythm, the nervous system quiets and emotional tension can begin to soften.
When you bring your attention to your lower back, see if the muscles that support the back when you stand and sit have relaxed. And as your relaxation deepens, notice the back of your waist and your lower back expanding with the inhalation and softening with the exhalation, potentially releasing the vise-like tension that often grips this area.
Taking Time Out for Crocodile
Besides helping you unwind and releasing stress in your lower back, 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