Starting Position: Kneel on an exercise mat or floor positioning your knees and feet hip-width apart, toes pointing to the wall behind you. Engage your core and abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine and pelvis.
Slowly lean forward bending from the hips. Keep the abdominals braced to keep the spine straight. Place your hands on the bench. Keep the arms straight so there is a straight line from the shoulders, through the elbows to the wrists.
With your hands on the bench, keep your knees directly under your hips while leaning back into your hips to increase the stretch into the upper back. Keep your chin tucked into your neck to stabilize your cervical spine and to keep your head from dropping toward the floor. Maintain your abdominal bracing to keep the spine straight and the pelvis level.
Hold the stretch position for approximately 30-45 seconds, to increase the stretch into the latissimus dorsi (back) muscles, slowly rotate your thumbs to point up towards the ceiling. Repeat for a total of 2-4 repetitions.
Exercise Variation: To further increase the stretch, turn the palms up to face the ceiling while leaning back into your hips.
Exhale as you lean back into your hips, and do not let your head drop toward the ground.