Although sitters and CrossFitters sound like two very different groups, they have a lot in common...tight chests, backs, and hips. Before sinking into the postures, I recommend warming up so you can rest with more ease. All of these poses can be done after a workout and with a foam roller, something all the CrossFit gyms have. If you are practicing at home, feel free to use a blanket or bolster. Get comfortable, breathe easy, and hang out for 5-10 minutes in each pose. Enjoy!
As people sit, there is a tendency to allow the shoulders to roll forward which causes the upper back muscles to lengthen and the chest becomes tight. Backbends are a great way to open the chest.
Place a rolled up blanket, bolster, or foam roller horizontal on your mat. From a seated position gently lower down. The blanket, bolster or foam roller will rest where a bra strap is located. If the stretch is too deep, place another blanket or yoga block under your head and bend your knees, bringing your feet back to the floor. You may even cross your hands and rest them under your head. Go only as far into the stretch where you can still breathe deeply and with ease.
Supported bridge pose helps bring length to the low back as well as gently opens the hip flexors. As people continue to sit or spend time in a squat like position, the hip flexors may shorten and become tight. Tight hip flexors can also lead to back pain.
Begin lying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees hips distance apart. Press through your feet and lift your hips into a bridge position. Slide the blanket, bolster, or foam roller under the sacrum. The sacrum is the triangle like shaped bone structure at the base of your lumbar spine. Let the hips rest on the blanket, bolster, or foam roller.
Option 2: extend one leg at a time for an additional stretch
Pigeon Against the Wall:
Pigeon against the wall is excellent for those suffering from hip tightness or sciatic pain. Opening the hips helps relieve discomfort from long hours of sitting. Pigeon also increases mobility and range of motion for many lifts and functional movements.
First, sit down next to the wall. If you know your hamstrings are tight place a few inches between you and the wall. If your hamstrings are generally flexible, you can sit with one side shoulder and hip touchng the wall. Then lie down on your side. As you roll on to your back, allow your knees to stay bent towards your chest. Then extend the legs up onto the wall to legs up the wall (See the bonus pose below for benefits). With your legs up on the wall, cross one ankle above the opposite knee. Gently draw the straight leg down the wall, towards 90 degrees, until you feel a nice hip and bum stretch. Hold for a few minutes then switch sides. When changing sides be sure to extend the bent leg back up the wall before uncrossing the crossed leg. Notice the difference between each side
Bonus Pose - Legs up the Wall:
Legs up the wall is a great restorative pose for all. Having the legs up on the wall allows the blood return to the heart with the help of gravity and with ease. Usually, our bodies are working hard to pump the blood from our feet, back to heart, against gravity. So as you may guess, this restorative posture provides a beautiful resting state for the body. This pose also helps drain lactic acid out of the legs helping us feel less sore after a long week or a hard workout. Lastly, I often recommend this pose to those who have restless legs at night and find it difficult to sleep. Just a few minutes in this posture packs a lot of benefits.