From day one, we learned that being a law student included carrying the weight equivalent of a small toddler on our backs around campus. So, for those of us who are holding out against buying a pack mule, here are some simple exercises and yoga-inspired stretches to help relieve the tension that can build up in your back and neck from carrying around all that weight. Please use caution. You are responsible for listening to your body and judging whether these stretches and exercises are safe and right for you.
SIT UP STRAIGHT
Cultivating good posture is essential to relieving strain on your spine. Always support your spine with good alignment by sitting and standing straight. A good trick is to imagine a string is attached to the very top of your head and gently pulling up, elongating your neck. Remember to keep your shoulders back.
STRENGTHEN YOUR ABS
Strong stomach muscles will support your lower back. Start a routine of sit-ups and crunches every morning. Start simply with what you can do, and increase the number over time.
SIMPLE BODY STRETCH
•Stand up straight.
•Raise your right arm over your head and stretch it to the left, leaning your entire body in a nice curve.
•Repeat on the other side by raising your left arm and leaning to the right.
•Raise both arms over your head and bend forward from the waist, reaching for your toes and getting a nice stretch in your back and legs.
SIMPLE NECK STRETCH
•Sit or stand up straight.
•Gently lean your head to the right, left, backwards, and forwards.
•You can gently pull your head in these directions with your hand.
•Finally, roll your head around in a circle both clockwise and counterclockwise.
•Don’t strain. The idea is to relax the muscles, not to pull them.
•Lie on the floor and make sure your body is in a straight line.
•Bend your right knee so that your right foot is resting on the floor next to your left knee.
•Now, gently rotate that bent right leg to the left, trying to touch your right knee to the floor on the other side of your left leg.
•At the same time, keep your shoulders flat on the floor, stretch your arms straight out on either side, and turn your head to the right.
•Repeat the same thing on the other side.
•Remember, be slow and gentle; don’t force the stretch!
*Jyoti Jennings is a Certified Yoga Instructor*