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Winter tightness is the worst! And if you’ve been shoveling snow lately (thanks, #SnowBombCyclone!), you’re may find yourself with a doubly aching back the next day.

Yoga to the rescue! Here are my four key stretches for survival!

1: Release Your Hip Flexors & Lower Back: Crescent Lunge
The psoas is the largest hip flexor muscle. It runs up the front of the hip, cuts through the abdominal cavity and attaches to the lower lumbar spine. Stretching the psoas not only gives you a hip flexor stretch, it can also release lower back tightness. Stand in a lunge position, with your right foot forward and the right knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your tailbone forward to intensify.

BONUS: Open your arms, bend your elbows, and pull your shoulder blades together to add a chest stretch.

Stay for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.


2. Release Your Upper Back: Eagle Arms
Bring the arms in front of you at a 90-degree angle, elbows at shoulder-height. If this is enough of a stretch for the shoulders/upper back, stay here. If you need more of a stretch, drop the left elbow below the right and twine the forearms, pressing the back of the palms together. The key to releasing the upper back muscles is to keep the elbows lifted and equal height to the shoulders, and the shoulders as relaxed and low as possible.

Take ten deep breaths and switch sides.



3. Release Your Lower Back: Modified Half-Moon Pose
Your lower back may bear the brunt of the winter tightness AND certainly will feel it after any significant amount of shoveling. Release this vulnerable area with this gentle stretch.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place your right hand on your right hip. Lift the left arm up and then to the right. You should feel an immediate (and delightful!) release of your lower back muscles (the quadratus laborum or “QLs”).

Take ten deep breaths here, using your breath to expand the left ribs, deepening the stretch, then switch sides.



4. Release Your Chest Muscles: Doorway Pose
Anytime you stretch a muscle group, you want to release the synergists and antagonists. After you stretch the upper back, you also want to stretch the chest. While we began that work with the open-arm bonus above (Pose #1), let’s stretch them pectorals (chest muscles) a little more deeply now. Stand in a doorway or agaist a wall and put your right arm out at a ninety-degree angle. Press your palm, forearm, and elbow against the doorframe and twist your chest gently away (in this case, to the left).
Stay for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.

Taking time to stretch all the major muscles you’ve just worked will minimize soreness and increase your chances for the quickest snow bomb cyclone recovery possible. Stay warm, stay hydrated, and remember the most important pose of all: couch-asana, which should be done lying down and for an extended amount of time. Bonus if done with a puppy. 🙂