Unless we keep our spine mobile, moving it through its full range of movement, which includes twisting, sideways extensions, forward and back bends, the upper spine may tighten and round forward with age. This is even more so when our work demands long hours of focusing forward and down over a desk, workbench or computer. There are many ways to counter a tight upper back, but the yoga crocodile rest is easy, effective and soothing.
The Crocodile Rest is a passive stretch for the upper back and neck. A tight upper back benefits from the gentleness because it is not forced to extend in a back bend. Instead, the lengthening of the upper part of the spine happens naturally. Staying in this position for a few minutes not only releases the upper spine but also stretches the armpits and can thereby release the shoulders.
This resting position is soothing for the nervous system because the front of the body is touching the mat. It has been prescribed for reducing anxiety and for those yogis who feel too exposed when lying in a restorative position on the back. There is something very soothing for everyone to have the busy front side of the body quiet and supported. See how you experience this pose, but isn’t it lovely to have the touch on the forehead, the heart centre and the solar plexus?
Lie face down on a yoga mat or carpet.
If your lower back aches when lying on your front, place a folded blanket under the lower abdomen. This is to prevent the over-curving of the lower back.
Place the feet a comfortable distance apart form each other and allow them to roll out.
Bend the elbows to the side and place one hand on top of the other, palms down.
Rest the forehead on the hands, making sure the back of the neck remains long.
If this position is not comfortable for the neck, look over to one side and swap sides in the middle of your rest.
This is a good position to be aware of your breath:
Notice the movement of your abdomen against the floor: feel more pressure as you breathe in and less as you breathe out. Keep focusing on this abdominal movement for a few minutes.
Connect with the sensation of surrendering the body’s weight every time you breathe out.
Pay attention to the movement along your back and side ribs as you breathe.