Begin to stretch and strengthen your upper body and back in Sphinx Pose…
This gentle beginner stretch is a great way to begin preparing your body for backbend poses and start building your upper body strength. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana) is a heart-opening stretch for the chest, lungs, and shoulders. It also strengthens the shoulders and spine, stretches the abs and hip flexors, and is thought to boost energy.
This is also a good substitute for Cobra pose for those with back problems. Practicing Sphinx pose on a regular basis can help ease and prevent lower back pain and stiffness, and it’s great for restoring the proper curve to your lower back if you spend a lot of time sitting.
Those in the first trimester of pregnancy can place a folded blanket under the pubic bone for extra comfort. In the later stages of pregnancy, you should skip this pose. This is generally a gentle enough pose even for those with back pain, but if you have any disc problems, you should consult your doctor before performing this pose.
Here are step-by-step instructions for performing Sphinx Pose, from EkhartYoga.com:
- Lying down on your abdomen, arrange your shoulders over your elbows
- Bring the shoulders back away from your neck, shoulder blades sliding down your back and feel a subtle lift in the breast bones
- Breathe in your lower back and abdomen
- To come out of the pose, bring your elbows to the sides and rest your forehead over your hands
- Take your time in this backbend. Only go as far as feels comfortable. Keep your belly pulled in and up, and the lower back long. Maintain the connection between your hips and the floor.
- Keep an eye on your shoulders – keep them away from your ears and the base of the neck relaxed.
- Point your elbows backwards rather than out to the sides.