Yoga can seem a little daunting for some of us, so our fitness expert has come up with five great poses to strengthen and stretch out your back muscles with two variations.
Try these poses and feel your back become healthier and more supple:
Similar to downward facing dog, this pose allows you to lengthen through the neck and spine more and draw the shoulders away from the ears, activating more of the upper back muscles.
To get into this pose, begin on all fours and then push up into downward dog, fold further forward and gently come down onto your forearms, pressing all knuckles into the floor. Look down towards the floor to lengthen the neck and keep the spine flat and aligned. Bend your knees slightly if you need to, aim to push the hips up to the roof, rather than be flat footed.
Version 2: Do this same position on your knees instead of up on your toes.
On your knees, reach behind you and place one hand at a time on your lower back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lift and rise through the chest and move your gaze up towards the roof, if you can drop the head back slightly, with control (don’t let your neck dangle) and breathe deeply.
Same as above but tuck your toes onto the mat and reach your hands back to find your ankle or inner side of your foot. Open the chest and feel the spine stretch and extend.
Knees chest and chin to begin. On your knees lower slightly towards the floor and then tuck your elbows in as your aim to get your chest as close to the floor as possible. Keeping your hips high to the sky and chest low, graze your chin on the floor below as you look forwards.
Begin laying face down on the floor, toes shooting away from you. Press your hands flat into the floor, wrists under your shoulders. Lift and rise through the arms as your press your chest toward the sky and raise your gaze to where the roof and wall meet. Always keep your elbows in towards your sides and only go up as far as is comfortable for you and your spine. Remember that everyone is different! Don’t try to copy anyone else. Your pose may look different to others and that is the beauty of being unique.
A personal favourite, this pose is a great to warm up the spine and can be done with some free-flowing hip movements and swivels to get into all areas of the spine, up down, side to side. On all fours, ensure your needs are under your hips, hip distance apart and your wrists are under your shoulders. Curl the chin into your chest and crate a big round curve in the spine (cat). Come back to a flat back position and then drop your belly button down towards the mat and bring your gaze up between the eyebrows to the third eye. Repeat with some hip swaying and circular movements. Be free with your expression and interpretation of this pose! There are no one-size fits all poses.
This can be done on a chair, seated on the edge but stil stable, ensure your shoulders are back and chest is open. Feet planted firmly on the floor. Place your hand on the tops of your thighs and tuck your chin into your chest for cat. Then open up, keeping the elbows close to your body as you lower your belly button towards the thighs and look up between the eyebrows.
Seated on the floor with your legs out in front of your, reach your hands behind you and either rest them on your lower back or on the floor behind you. Draw your shoulder blades together and elbows towards one another as your look up and over head.
Lay with your back flat on the floor. Shoot your toes away from you, down to the floor. Bring your arms underneath you as close as possible as you squeeze your shoulder blades together and elevate your middle spine off the floor slightly. Tilt your head back and let it touch the floor, opening the neck to the sky. To come out safely, ensure you tuck your chin to your chest, then slowly roll back down to lie flat on the mat. Release the arms last.
Listen to your body, everyday you will feel different so never try to get into the same position as you may have previously done. Allow the body to drive your movements.