Those of us who spend much of our time sitting in the car, behind a desk and then in front of the TV need to counteract all the forward bending we do. Slouching forward shortens the muscles in the front of the spine and overstretches the muscles at the back of the spine. This move reverses that action. Practicing it regularly helps develop balanced muscles so you can maintain the correct position of your spine.
1 Lie face down on a mat, bring your heels toward your buttocks and reach back with your hands to hold your ankles. Your knees can separate, but keep your thighs parallel to each other. If you cannot reach your ankles, wrap straps around your ankles and grasp the ends. Keep your thighs on the floor, relax your abdomen and neck, and focus on moving the tops of your shoulders away from your ears. Look forward and hold this position for two breaths.
2 On an exhale, lift your chest and legs while still holding your ankles. Firm your buttocks and lengthen the front of your body. Hold for 10 seconds, breathing evenly. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend in this pose. To release, lower your thighs and chest to the mat, then let go of your feet, and lower your legs and head. Rest for a few minutes and allow your breathing to return to normal.
-- Karen Voight