6. The One Leg Stretch
This guy's other name is single leg stretch. From the rib cage up, similar to The Hundred (minus the arms pumping up and down). It is one of the eight abdominal series.
Classical start: lie flat with entire body resting on floor
Recommended start: seated with knees bent, grab right knee to roll back onto floor up to shoulder blades. Reach other leg straight a few inches off ground. Both ankles pointed. (click here for a video of the start variations)
1. Inhale put right hand on outside of right shin/ankle and left hand on inside of right knee. Pull knee towards chest twice.
2. Exhale straighten right knee, put left hand on outside of left shin/ankle and right hand on inside of left knee. Pull knee towards chest tis
3. Inhale pull knee towards chest twice. Repeat 4-6 times each leg.
To decrease neck tension: find armpit muscles to float head, neck, and shoulders, utilize support from the back of the neck, soften sternum/bend at thoracic spine to raise head.
To improve lumbar stability: think of tipping pubic bone towards nose when lowering the legs, image pushing down with hamstrings.
To improve overall efficiency of the exercise: inhale into the back of the ribs, exhale to wrap around softening ribs.
Modifications: keep head on the floor. Keep both knees bent and lower all the way to floor (instead of hovering a few inches off floor). Grab beside knee instead of slightly confusing hand placement. Prop head, neck and shoulders up with a small ball or pillow. Use any of combination of these modifications as needed for neck/low back pain or fatigue.
Variations: As you read in double leg stretch instructions, single straight leg stretch is NOT one of the original contrology exercises. However I like to use this variation of single leg stretch before performing any of the exercises where head, neck and shoulders are lifted off the floor and arms/legs are flying about. Follow the instructions above, but keep knees straight. When you press your leg into your hands, you can use those hamstrings to lift head, neck and shoulders. Utilizing those hammies effectively help increase the efficiency of your bod and make holding this position much easier. When this one is easier, you can perform more challenging exercises without increasing tension in the neck.
Challenges: Keep arms straight, hands near hips, palms down, a few inches from floor (similar to hundred, without the up/down movment). Keep the bent knee at 90d and don't pull the thigh past vertical. It's harder when you don't pull it into your chest.