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  • Easy (and some Not-So-Easy)
    Cross Leg Stretches

    In cross leg stretches you can twist, side bend and forward bend while sitting with legs crossed. You can also "lift yourself up."

    If you have difficulty sitting upright with crossed legs, then an option is to sit with one shin folded to the outside of the thigh in a semi-kneeling posture. This is also a good option if you have difficulty bending forwards with legs crossed.

    Pelvic Tilting (Spinal Bending) Practice

    While sitting cross legged you can practice backward bending and forward bending the spine. Start by lifting and lowering your tailbone so that your lumbar spine alternately bends backwards and forwards, then carry the bending actions up into the thoracic spine. This is a great way to build pelvic awareness.

    Cross Legged Upright Twisting Stretches

    While sitting with legs crossed you can twist your spine with the help of your arms. Or you can put your hands together in prayer in which case you have to use the muscles of the waist and ribcage (the obliques and intercostals) to drive the twist.

    Sitting with legs crossed one hand is placed on the opposite knee. The other hand is on the floor just behind the body. Both arms are being used to turn the ribcage to one side, twisting the spine. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Sitting with legs crossed and hands in prayer, use the muscles of the waist and ribcage to turn the ribcage and twist the spine. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    You could also stretch the shoulders.

    You can stretch the shoulders while sitting cross legged by clasping the hands and reaching the arms rearwards behind the back. You could also touch them together in prayer behind your back.

    Sitting with legs crossed one option for the arms while twisting the spine is to clasp the hands behind the back and reach the arms upwards. (This is the same arm position used in prasaritta padottanasana C). Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Sitting with legs crossed one option for the arms while twisting the spine is to put the hands in reverse prayer position (hands together behind the back with fingers pointing upwards). Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Sitting with legs crossed one option for the arms while twisting the spine is to place the arms in the eagle arm position. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Sitting with legs crossed one option for the arms while twisting the spine is to clasp the hands behind the back with one arm up and the other arm down so that the arms are in the same position used in cow face yoga pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    You could also stretch the shoulders with the arms in front of the body using the eagle pose shoulder stretch. Another option is the cow face arm position.

    Cross Legged Forward Fold (Plus a Side Bend)

    Bending forwards with legs crossed, reach ribs away from the pelvis and open the spaces between the ribs. Reach the head away from the ribcage. Reach the shoulders forwards, (towards the ears) and make the arms long. Spread the fingers. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Sitting with legs crossed, bend forwards and then reach both arms to the side. Use the arms to bend the lumbar spine and thoracic spine sideways. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    To stretch the back of your hips you can bend forwards while sitting cross legged.

    While bent forwards try increasing the forward tilt of you pelvis. Push your pubic bone down and back. Pull your tailbone forwards and up. So that your hip muscles are active, try pressing your feet downwards into the floor.

    Try to make your arms feel long. Reach your shoulders forwards and make your palms feel open. To add a slight twist lift one arm while pressing down with the other hand (not shown.)

    To add a side bend for your spine, reach your arms to the side while bending your upper body sideways. Bending to the left try to expand the right side of your waist and ribcage. You could work on reaching your right-side-ribs away from your pelvis while pulling your left-side-ribs towards your pelvis.

    Forward Bent Shoulder Stretch or Twist

    Another option for the cross legged seated yoga pose is to bend forwards and reach an arm across the chest to the opposite side. Then sink the shoulder and ribcage on the side of the arm you are stretching.

    Reach the other hand forwards.

    Bending forwards while sitting with the legs crossed, reach one arm across the front of the chest towards the opposite side. Sink that shoulder down towards the floor to stretch the outside of the shoulder. Reach the other arm forwards and lengthen the upper body. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Sitting with legs crossed, bend forwards and place one elbow on the floor. Turn the ribcage towards the opposite side. Place hands together in prayer and position the forearms so that they form one straight line. Press the bottom elbow into the floor. Press the top hand against the bottom hand. Using both shoulders turn and twist the ribcage and spine. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    From the shoulder stretching position you can bend the elbow and use the shoulder to press it into the floor so that the ribcage lifts.

    Then put the hands together in prayer and use both shoulders to drive the twist.

    Reaching Up

    A very simple cross leg stretch is to reach your spine and arms upwards. Work at lifting your ribs up away from your pelvis. Draw you head away from your ribcage. Reach your shoulders up and at the same time make your arms and fingers all feel long.

    So that you get a better feel for the action you can relax arms and spine while exhaling then continually lengthen upwards while inhaling.

    Lifting Up

    To practice lifting up with legs cross start by setting up the arms and shoulders.

    Spread the shoulder blades then pull the arms inwards to activate the latissimus dorsai muscles. Prevent arms from rotating inwards. To use the lats to help you lift your body, create a downward pull on the arms, at the same time pulling the hips upwards. First lift just your hips and when you are comfortable holding this position then try lifting one foot, then both feet.

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