If lower back pain, sciatica or stiffness is slowing you down, steal this move from yin yoga, a gentle style of practice known for its longer-held stretches.
This stretch, demonstrated by fitness expert and yogi Jennifer Kries and used in her “Hot Body Cool Mind” DVD series, will melt away tension, ease pain and clear your mind.
What it does
The shoelace opens and loosens your hips, stretches your lower back and legs and relieves stress.
What to do
Start on your hands and knees. Place your left knee behind your right knee, and sit back until your bottom is on the floor and your legs are bent and stacked with the right knee on top, with both knees facing the front. Calves and feet are pointing out to the sides like untied shoelaces. You can adjust the position of the foot on top, moving it forward as needed to adjust the degree of stretch on the top leg.
Clasp your hands on your top knee. Breathe and settle into the pose. Then, if your flexibility allows, try placing your hands flat on the floor in front of your legs and drop your head, allowing its weight to pull your body down over your legs. Stay here for several breaths, gently deepening the position as you relax into it, if possible. Walk your hands back and sit up, gentling untwisting your legs and shaking them out in front of you. Switch legs, stacking the left knee on top of the right.
Hold the bent-over fold for five to 10 slow breaths.