We all have experienced back pain. It comes, it goes. Sometimes from sitting too long, sometimes from moving too much. We need to take special care of our spines and make sure that we keep mobility and stability throughout our core. Try these five yoga poses today for a little spinal TLC:
1) CAT/COW: Cat/Cow is a gentle spine stretch to help loosen shoulders and back.Begin in table top pose. Wrists under shoulders, knees under hips (place blanket underneath knees for added support).On an inhale, drop belly, tailbone lifts, chest forward (shoulders down).On exhale, round spine, drop chin to chest.Tips: keep arms straight, use this pose to connect breath with movement, keep neck neutral if you have neck injury or sensitivity.
2) DOWNWARD FACING DOG: From table top pose, start to walk fingertips out in front of you slightly. Fingers spread evenly, pressing weight into your index finger knuckles and the inside edges of your fingertips. Curl your toes under and lift hips up and back. Option to bring feet as wide as the mat and keep a bend in your knees (especially if hamstrings are tight). If shoulders are tight, option to bring hands wider than shoulder width apart with fingers pointing slightly out. Think about having a long spine and keep shoulders shrugging down away from ears. Lift one heel bending opposite knee, and drop the other heel – switch sides.
3) FORWARD FOLD: From downward facing dog, walk your feet up to your hands, keeping a soft bend in your knees. Bring your feet as wide as your yoga mat and put an even bigger bend in your knees. This will take pressure off of low back. Reach for elbows and sway slowly side to side. Use your hands to gently guide your elbows in the direction of the ground. This will help to create a little traction for lats and side body as well.
4) RECLINED PIGEON POSE: from forward fold, bend knees even more and come through seated all the way on to your back. Ground feet on the mat, about hip width apart. Cross right ankle over left knee, flexing right foot just a bit. Stay here or if you need to feel more, use right hand to gently press right thigh away from you. Option to thread both hands through back of left thigh and gently rock side to side (only take this variation if you can keep head and shoulders on the ground).
5) SPINAL TWIST: from reclined pigeon pose, hug right knee into chest and send right knee across body to left side. You can place left hand on knee and extend right arm straight out to the right, or settle in to any more comfortable version.
Stay in each of these poses for at LEAST ten deep breaths. Focusing on your breath in these poses will provide even more benefits, as making the mind-body connection will help you to find greater range of motion.