Find a comfortable and safe place to lay face up, as flat as you can.
This meditation is to encourage deep back muscles to stretch and relax in order to decrease pressure on the nerves along the sides of spinal segments. It is especially useful for people with balance issues and for those whose knees and hips feel stiff or awkward when walking.
When the spinal column is in chaos, there is an overbearing presence of stress and postural demands. Directions to muscles from the central nervous system are muffled and confused. The sensory nerves can’t get their messages back to the spine to make change updates so the rest of the body can react accordingly.
As the spine relaxes, spinal nerve communication between opposing muscle groups begins to clear. As one group moves the bones through a joint, the opposing group of muscles quietly stretches, waiting for their turn to move.
As you lay face up with a flat back on the table, remind your soul that you are safe and warm. If you are chilly, cover yourself with a blanket. Imagine you are floating in the waters of the Great Salt Lake with the entire weight of your body being supported by the dense salt ion crystals. The sun is shining in your face, and all of the deep back muscles along the spine can take a much needed break from trying to hold your body upright all day long.
Wiggle your shoulders to discover a position where the head, neck and spine are rested and supported comfortably. Center your upper body along the spine between the shoulder blades.
Now bring your attention to the sacrum and tailbone at the bottom of the spine. Gently alternate sliding your legs up and down against the table until the triangular sacral bone in the back of the hip feels neutral and grounded.
Face up Bird Dog Stretch
As the entire spinal column is starting to relax, we will do a simple cross body stretch for the deep back muscles.
Bring your right arm up over your head as if you are flying like superman. Only stretch as far as your arm or shoulder can go without pain or discomfort. Gently press your right shoulder down in order to anchor your upper right spine into the table. Next, lift and bend your left knee a little bit off the table, and stretch your inner thigh muscles as you move your knee downward and to the outside of the table – like a butterfly or frog stretch. Imagine all of the deep back muscles on the left follow the downward and outward motion of the knee, gently pulling the back muscles away from the spine. Slowly inhale, and on the exhale, stretch the bent left knee deeper into the table with slightly more force to enhance the stretch of the deep back muscles.
Bring your right arm and left leg back to neutral. Now bring your left arm over your head, anchor your left upper spine, and lift, bend and stretch your right knee to extend the right back muscles downward and outward along the spine. Inhale and, on the exhale, press the bended right knee further into the table.
Repeat the crossbody stretching for the posture muscles along the spine and upper body until you sense the spine drifting further into the table as you are starting to relax.
Bring your arms to your side and straighten your legs so we can begin a muscle rebalancing exercise for the lower body..
Hamstrings vs Quadriceps Muscle Rebalancing Exercise
Using only the muscles in the back of your left leg, very gently draw the back of the knee into the table. Check in at the top of your thigh to make sure that the muscles on the top of the thigh are not pushing the knee into the table. This job is to be done only by the hamstrings in the back of the leg, without help from the quadriceps, the opposing muscle group in the front of the leg. The knee is already very close to the top of the table, so very little energy is needed to accomplish this task. Using only five percent of your power, send signals from your brain only to the muscles in the back of your leg to bring the knee into the table. Relax the leg and try again a couple of times until you are confident that only the muscles in the back of the leg are activating.
Next, in a connected chain of motion, bring the knee into the table and then bring the gluts into the table as if you are in a relay handing the baton from the back of the knee joint to the back of the hip joint. Pass the baton to the low back, imaging that a magnet is pulling the spine into the table. The baton goes next to flatten the left shoulder, anchoring the top of the spine into the table from the neck and shoulders. Relax and try the 4 step relay a couple of times on only the back of the left side of the body.
When the baton transitions are smooth, press the entire left side of the body into the table, step by step. Take a deep breath to hold the anchored position on your left side and to activate the core muscles. While still holding your breath, gently lift the right knee slightly up off the table for just a moment using the muscles in the front of the right leg. Exhale as you straighten your right leg. Practice the left back muscles holding onto the table as the right knee is lifted for a couple of times, until you feel that the anchored back of the left side seems to be supporting the movement of the front of the right side, as newly organized information is getting to and from the spine.
Now practice the right side bringing the back of the right knee, hip, lower back and shoulder into the table checking to make sure the right quadriceps are not active in the motion. When the right side is anchored into the table, take a deep breath and gently lift your left knee up off the table. Practice this a couple of times. Which side adapted more easily to the new pattern?
The hamstrings and the quadriceps are retooling to allow alternating movement patterns and to reduce the chaos of the nervous system. The anchored muscles in the posterior, or back, muscles on one side are working with the core muscles to fully support the anterior, or front, moving leg muscles on the other side.
By now, you might realize that these muscle movements are for walking. Resting the spine on the table when you are face up disables the need for posture and stress to hold you upright so that the muscles can rebalance in a quiet and safe place. Muscle rebalancing can be done lying face up before taking a walk or doing other forms of exercise.
This meditation can also be done before you go to sleep to encourage the stress system to relax and to allow the opposing hamstring and quadricep muscles to regroup and recover so you will be ready to awake with an organized spine and a rested body.