The bridge, windshield wiper, and cobra work to help you align your spine.
Exercise 7- The Bridge
The Bridge helps align your spine, lifting it into the ready set position for the floor. The Bridge is a restorative floor posture. It also is one of the best dynamic movements to bring your spine into correct posture. It opens your thoracic spine (the middle and upper back) and stabilizes your spine from your tailbone to the top of your head. The Bridge can be done on a bench or on the floor lying on your back.
To set good posture, bend your knees as needed with your feet to the mat/bench to allow for the natural arch in your lower back.
Bend your knees and plant your feet close enough to your seat so that your knees are directly over your heels.
Check to see if your feet are hip-distance apart and parallel to each other. Are your feet parallel, turned out or pigeon-toed? Constantly re-check the position of your feet and knees.
Press your low back into the mat/bench.
Relax your neck so your head is centered over your shoulders.
Gently push your head into the mat/bench while releasing your shoulders down to open your chest.
Press your shoulder blades into the mat/bench with your arms to your sides, palms up, to lengthen your spine.
Exhale to activate your core.
Press down with your feet, lift your hips up and off the floor.
Push your hips higher by contracting and squeezing your buttocks.
Inhale and hold your position 5 seconds
Exhale and slowly lower your spine back to the mat/bench to return to your starting position.
Do 10 reps pushing through both feet. Do 5 reps pushing through one side only. Repeat one-legged on the other side to test for strength balance. Ask yourself: “Is one side stronger than the other? Does one leg/hip have more range of motion?” If you find a weaker side, repeat a second set of 10 reps on the weaker side.
Check and test to see if you are out of balance each session. Keep doing double the reps on the weaker side until you no longer feel an imbalance. In most cases, the imbalance will correct itself fairly quickly. It is important to use one side at a time to measure for any imbalance.
Exercise 8 - Shoulder Upward/Downward Rotation
Warm up by doing a bridge to align the spine. Please refer to The Bridge. The Bridge is your Ready Set Position on the mat/floor.
Downward/Upward single arm:
Like a goal post, abduct both of your shoulders to a 90-degree angle from your chest. Bend your elbows upward at a 90-degree angle on the floor by your ears.
Can your wrists reach the floor? If not, stop when you feel a gentle stretch in your shoulder. It’s important not to force it!
Keep your wrists in a neutral position.
Press your head and shoulders into the mat/bench to increase your range of motion and ensure proper spinal alignment.
Use your elbows to pivot as you move your wrists to the floor, rotating downward towards your hip, being careful not to force it.
Maintain a 90-degree bend in your elbow and keep your elbow anchored on the floor.
Exhale and return upward to your Ready Set Position.
Do 10 reps on each side. Notice: “Does one side have more range of motion than the other? Shoulders can be delicate so slowly coax your rotation--very carefully! If you find a more limited side, build strength parity by doing a second set of 10 reps on the more limited shoulder. You will eventually progress to your ultimate goal of building balance. With consistent practice, you’ll see improvement over time.
Exercise 9- Windshield Wiper
This exercise is to help you increase the range of motion in your hips and lower back. This movement involves rotation. If you have a back condition, and your doctor has warned you not to rotate, then please skip this exercise.
Warm up by doing The Bridge to align the spine. Please refer to The Bridge. The Bridge is your Ready Set Position for the mat/floor.
Straighten one leg.
Sweep your other leg from side to side like a windshield wiper.
Keep the knee of the working leg slightly bent and below your hip as you cross your body.
Return your leg back across your body, opening up your inside thigh.
Rock your hips back and forth, keeping your shoulders down and back, palms up. Now try the other leg.
Is one side tighter than the other? Once you have identified the tighter side, do 10 repetitions on the tighter side. Check and test to see if you are out of balance each session. Keep doing double the reps on the tighter side until you no longer feel an imbalance. In most cases, the imbalance will correct itself fairly quickly. It is important to work one side at a time to measure for the imbalance.
Exercise 10 - The Cobra
The Cobra pose strengthens your spine and aligns your head, neck, and upper spine. It helps increase flexibility and proper alignment for a healthy upper back.
Lay on your belly on the mat/bench.
Keep your legs shoulder width apart with the feet extended.
Press your hands onto the floor just under your shoulders and close into your side.
Lift your chest off of the floor, keeping your neck in neutral position.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Press your hips into the floor as your chest rises.