The number one secret to staying youthful is to keep your spine flexible and healthy.
The spine is an indicator of health and balance. When it is strong, lengthened, and flexible, the benefits can be seen physically, mentally, and spiritually. Collapsing the spine by slumping affects our entire body: it minimizes our capacity to breathe deeply, limits space in the upper thoracic spine, and overextends muscles, tendons, and nerves in the lumbar region. The spine is our framework, and when the structure of our frame breaks down, all systems are jeopardized.
The Basic Spinal Series energetically revitalizes the body. It strengthens the abdomen, which supports the lengthening of the spine. In this lengthened spine posture, vital organs are stimulated, cleansed, and work efficiently.
This is a condensed version of the original practice. You can find the complete practice here. Stick with it for 40 consecutive days and notice all the benefits it brings to your life.
Here’s how the Basic Spinal Series works:
This series energizes all 26 vertebrae. The movement and the deep healing breath that accompanies it brings vitality to the central nervous system, which facilitates health and well-being at all levels. I recommend that you complete the whole series with your eyes closed. This will allow you to experience yourself from the inside out.
Take a seat on the floor in a cross-legged position or sit in a chair with your feet on the ground. Feel yourself rooted at your tailbone and allow this connection to energize the lengthening of your spine. We will now complete a sequence of exercises from the lumbar spine up to the top of the head.
1. Lumbar Spine Place your hands on your knees in preparation to start. Take a deep inhale and a long exhale. On the next inhale, begin to flex your chest forward, and on the exhale, flex your spine backward. This will feel a little like a cat/cow movement, covering the full range of motion in your spine. Do this 26 times, then rest for 30 seconds.
2. Mid Thoracic Sit on your heels for this exercise if you can (you will be staying in this position for the remaining exercises). If not, sit in a chair with your feet touching the floor. On an inhale, flex your chest forward, then, on the exhale, turn your spine backward. Keep your chin level to the ground to avoid overextending your neck. Do this 26 times, then rest for 30 seconds.
3. Shoulders and Arms Place your hands on your shoulders, arms parallel to the floor, thumbs in back, the rest of your fingers in the front. As you inhale, twist to the left, exhale, and turn to the right like a washing machine. Continue 13 times, breathing in and out expansively, then rest for 30 seconds.
4. Heart Center Cup your right hand face-up in front of your heart center, place your left hand on top, connect the fingers, and pull outward. Move your elbows in a sea-saw movement, breathing with the movement. Continue 13 times, then rest for 30 seconds.
5. Upper Thoracic Place your hands on your knees or on your thighs and straighten your arms. On an inhale, flex your chest forward, then exhale while flexing the spine backward, with your chin level to the ground to avoid overextending your neck and keeping the movement small. Do this 26 times, then rest for 30 seconds.
6. Traps, Upper Chest, and Shoulders Place your hands on your thighs. Inhale your shoulders toward your ears, then exhale and drop them down. Do this 26 times, then rest for 30 seconds.
7. Neck and Upper Back Place your hands on your thighs. While breathing deeply, drop your chin toward your chest, take your ear to your right shoulder, roll it back, then move your left ear to your left shoulder and back to center. Do this three times, then change direction. Rest for 30 seconds.
8. Throat and Top of Head Cup your right hand face-up and place your left hand on top, connecting the fingers. Bring your hands up to throat level and pull outward as you inhale. Suspend the breath, lifting from the center of your body. Staying in the same position, exhale, hold your breath out, and continue to pull on your hands.Raise your hands overhead in a halo position and pull on your hands as you inhale and suspend your breath. Hold as long as you can comfortably, lifting from the center of your body. Exhale, hold your breath out and continue to pull on your hands. Repeat the sequence three times. Rest for 1 minute in a seated position or lying down.
Close your practice by expressing gratitude to yourself for taking this time to heal.