Many of us sit for much of the day in office jobs, which can cause the muscles in the abdomen to shorten and become tight. Tight muscles in the abdomen can lead to poor posture, pain and stiffness in the torso. It is important to perform these stretches on a regular basis, which overtime will help to lengthen the abdominal muscles.
Cobra is a yoga posture that is performed prostrate on the floor. To perform this flexibility exercise, lie on the floor on your stomach on a mat or carpet. Place your palms on the mat just beneath your shoulders with the points of your elbows sticking up into the air. Squeeze your arms into your side. Press the tops of your feet into the air and lift your upper body using your lower back strength. To go deeper, press your hands into the mat and lift your upper body off the mat even higher. Press your shoulders back and look upwards.
A standing backbend is an easy way to stretch the abdominal muscles and can be done anywhere. To perform a standing backbend, stand with your feet together and your arms at your side. Contract the muscles in your legs to that your are standing firmly. Lift your arms above your head and press your palms together. Gently press your pelvis forward as you let your head drop back and then bend backward through your middle back. Allow your arms to go back as well. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly come back up to standing. Don't go any further than you feel is safe and comfortable.
Camel is another yoga posture that is similar to a standing backbend but is done on the knees. Stand on your knees on a mat or carpet with your knees hip-distance apart. Place your hands on the small of your back with your fingers pointing down toward the floor. Contract the muscles in your thighs and buttocks and gently press your pelvis forward as you let your head drop back and bend backward through your middle back. Use your hands to support your lower back and prevent over-bending. Stay there for a few seconds and come back to an upright position.
A seated twist is an easy way to stretch the entire abdomen, including the sides and back. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor. Sit up tall with your shoulders stacked over your hips. Take your right hand across to your left knee and twist your torso to the left. Hold here for a few seconds and then come back to center. Release your right hand and take your left hand across to your right knee. Twist to the left. Hold for a few seconds and then release the posture.