Have you ever felt tight in your chest? Like you just could not breath? In the winter months I sometimes feel stuffy because of the dry air caused by the heater running and because of the constant threat of flu, colds and other upper respiratory illnesses. Also, winter tends to cause things like school closures, which causes little ones to be stuck inside at home, which causes a tiny bit of anxiety for moms, which causes the chest to tighten. A great yoga pose to help alleviate this tightness, whatever its cause, is Lateral Flexion.
Flowing with your breath
To begin, start from a standing, seated or kneeling position. Contract your abs and take your naval to your spine, creating some space between your hip bones and your rib cage. Lift through your sternum as you inhale. The Chin stays parallel to floor and the crown of head is up toward the sky. You exhale quietly out of you nose. On your next inhale reach both hands up so that your wrists stay directly over your shoulder. Shoulders remain relaxed and down. If this is too taxing on the shoulders put a small bend in your elbows reaching up as far you can. On your next exhale, lower the left hand toward the ground.
You can try these options as you work through this pose.
-Place the left hand lightly on your hip, floor or chair to stabilize the spine
-Actively press through the left hand (opposite) creating dynamic tension in chest
-If standing pressing through same foot as lifted arm (right) for a stretch
On an inhale both hands come up. On an exhale you repeat on the other side.
This pose is design to stretch the belly, obliques, shoulders and armpits. It may help with:
As with any yoga pose listen to your body and ask your doctor before trying any new exercise. Avoid raising your arm if you have shoulder or neck injuries.
Never compromise your breath. Happy 2018!