Sitting in front of a computer all day can take a toll on the back. This flowing sequence, demonstrated by fitness expert Jennifer Kries, who uses it on her "Hot Body Cool Mind" DVD series, helps to restore the mobility and ease to your spine using some of the same stretches your pets use. Do it in the middle of the afternoon when you need to release stiffness and get energized.
What it does
This series of movements increases blood flow to the muscles surrounding the spine, stretches the upper body and strengthen the legs and buttocks.
What to do
Start the exercise with your feet parallel and slightly wider than hip-width apart and your hands on the tops of your thighs. Inhale and arch your back, bending your knees into a squat as you look up at the ceiling. Exhale and rise slightly as you contract your abdominals and round your back like a cat, dragging your palms down your legs as you round. Repeat this arch-and-contract motion five times. Then move on to the next move, called blossoming open.
For this exercise, come to a standing position. Inhale and clasp hands at your chest, then exhale, pushing straight out in front of you, palms facing out and rounding your back. Inhale and drop your hands to your upper legs. Skim them up your legs to your waist with fingers spread wide as you lower into a slight squat with an arched back.
Exhale as you drape over your bent legs like a rag doll. Inhale and roll up vertebra by vertebra, extending your arms to the ceiling with the backs of the hands facing each other, then circling back behind you in a backstroke manner, ending with your arms at your sides. Repeat three to five times.
Do this flowing series together, starting with five repetitions of the first exercise, before ending in three to five repetitions of the second set of movements.