This is semi-supine. Also known as “active rest”, it’s a way to take time for you. This position is great for releasing muscles in the lower back and shoulders, and a lie down during the day gives the inter-vertebral discs a chance to rehydrate. Having some quiet focused time each day helps if you tend to get wound up or anxious too.
15‐20 minutes a day would be great, but even 5 minutes is helpful to help reset your background levels of muscular tension.
- Lie on the floor on a mat with your head (not your neck) on some paperbacks (you will need an Alexander Technique lesson to give you the right height for you but try 3-4 thin books to get you started). Tempting though it is, your bed isn’t firm enough to support your back well. The same goes for using a pillow instead of books.
- Your knees bent, legs hip width apart, the feet about a foot from the buttocks
- Your hands resting somewhere on your stomach area
So now I am lying down, what next?
The name “active rest” refers to this practice being relaxing, but it’s not about going to sleep. You are doing active thinking about your body to bring about gradual change i.e. to make you less tense and have more body awareness. This is training your nervous system so that you will more relaxed when up and about and moving too.
We tend to pull ourselves down and “crunch” up in response to stress. Lying down in this way is an opportunity to undo tight muscles and let yourself get back to your natural height.
Just think of letting the body lengthen out and rest back onto the floor.
Don’t try and stretch or push, this just adds extra effort.
Let your head rest on the books and ask your neck muscles to un-grip. We often hold lots of tension in our neck and shoulders and a few minutes a day in semi-supine can really help switch it off.
Getting into a daily habit of a few minutes semi-supine is a great start for managing pain, stress or tension. But lying there worrying or making a shopping list isn’t very helpful, so keep the lie down short and if your mind drifts just gently bring your attention back to why you are there (don’t worry abut it though, it happens to us all!)
In Alexander Technique lessons I can help you to get so much more out of your time in semi-supine, and learn how to move with more ease too.