Part 2 is about articulation and spine lengthening. Before you start on part 2 go back to part one and do exercises 1 to 3 again to warm up. So once you’ve warmed yourself up with a bit of balance work, gently stretch the muscles around the spine with some spinal articulation.
4. The Roll Down from Standing
Spinal articulation and stretching
Start by standing tall on the floor (or exercise mat), take a full breath in and out before you do anything and note how the feet feel on the floor.
Are the feet hip distance apart with the toes pointing forward?
Can you feel both heels on the floor as equally as possible?
Can you feel all your toes on the floor – especially your big toes?
Now you’re ready!
- INHALE: through the nose, prepare.
- EXHALE: through pursed lips, soften your neck and chest and start to roll the spine down bone by bone to the floor, feel like you are melting the body down.
- Gently flex your knees and roll your abdominal muscles in so it feels like your belly button is going to touch your spine.
- Stay dangling your head and shoulders like a rag doll and take a deep breath into the back and sides of your ribs.
- NOTE: your knees are flexed and your abdominal muscles are still contracted to support you!
- EXHALE: push into your feet, especially your big toes, shrink your bottom cheeks, tighten your abdominal muscles, feel your bottom ribs sliding together and articulate up to standing bone by bone.
- Try 3 or 4 roll downs and then get onto the floor for the next exercise.
5. The Cat Stretch
The Cat is for spinal articulation, stretching and abdominal and bottom connection. This is one of my favorite stretches, done properly it feels fabulous!
The starting point for the cat stretch is in a 4-point kneeling position with equal weight under your hands and knees, the abdominal muscles are turned on so the tum should feel tight.
- Lengthen your spine, feel like your head and tail want to stretch in opposite directions.
- Spread your fingers out to activate your arm muscles and gently press them into the floor.
- Feel your breast bone open up in front of you like your collar bones are smiling to a point in front of your fingertips.
- Now you are ready to start!
- INHALE: breathe in through the nose wide and deep into your ribs.
- EXHALE: through pursed lips, curl your tailbone under your bottom and roll your pubic bone into your chest, shrink the abdominal muscles in towards the spine flexing over your ribs, let your head drop down.
TIP: you should feel like you are moving bone by bone from tail to head
- INHALE: stay in your flexed position and fill the back and sides of the ribs up with air like they are balloons!
- EXHALE: through pursed lips and articulate the spine back to a long line starting from your tail and ending at your head.
- Do 3 to 5 cat stretches, take your time with long SLOW breaths.
So now we’re all limbered up, try another balance, you can also do this next exercise kneeling on the stability cushions if you want to add more challenge!
6. Slow Swimming Prep
Strength and balance; particularly works your shoulder girdle, abdominal muscles, spinal muscles, your bottom and thighs!
Your start position is the same as for the cat stretch; 4-point kneeling
- INHALE: through your nose and let your ribs fill with air.
- EXHALE: through pursed lips and float your opposite arm and leg up so that you create 1 long line from the fingertips, through the spine to the toes.
TIP: press firmly into your fingers and down into your knee to activate your stabilising muscles.
- INHALE: lower your arm and leg, keeping them lined up with your shoulders and your hips.
- EXHALE: float the other arm and leg up.
- Keep the spine lengthened and avoid over-reaching the arm and leg, you will know if you have over-reached yourself if your hips and shoulders dip down to the floor or your body rotates.
Continue with a SLOW breath and SLOW actions, flow the movement with your breath and keep alternating from side to side for 10 goes.
7. Kneeling Thigh Stretch
With all that crouching and popping up on the surf board, your hips will need a good stretch.
Start position, kneeling with the legs lined up with your hip bones and one foot placed on the floor slightly forward of your knee. Stay tall and imagine you have a stack of books on your head. Keep your head, shoulders, hips and kneeling knee all lined up.
- INHALE: through your nose, lengthen your spine and smile across your collar bones.
- EXHALE: through pursed lips, keeping your head shoulders and hips lined up, slide your bottom ribs together, tighten your bottom and shift your weight forward to your front foot.
- INHALE: return to your start position (head, shoulders, hips and knee lined up vertically)
TIP: your front knee should not be poking out past your front foot when you’re in the stretch. If it is then just either don’t go so far into the stretch or move your front foot further forward!
Repeat 5 slow gentle stretches on the same side then swap legs.
This should feel great for the hip, remember to keep your abdominal muscles turned on and you should never feel this in your lower back, if you do – you’ve forgotten to switch your abs on!