Body Care

Top 6 Poses Yoga For The Back

Yoga is hardly a prissy activity, so don’t let those svelte women in cute leotards mislead you. You’re in for a demanding, athletically challenging workout here.”

Experts now believe certain yoga positions help prevent physical misalignment while helping to fend off mental stress, thus relieving migraine symptoms and minimizing migraine triggers. And there’s 6 yoga poses for the Back:

The Standing Half-Forward Bend

Focus: Back

Level: Beginner

Total Time:  N/A

Indications: digestion, liver, kidneys, insomnia

Contraindications: modification for neck injury

The Standing Half-Forward Bend

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The standing half-forward bend focuses on strengthening your back to improve your posture while simultaneously stretching the front of your body.  Those who have a neck injury can perform this pose, but they should avoid raising their head to gaze forward. 

  • Begin in a standing forward bend and rest the tips of your fingers on the ground next to your feet.  Breathe in, straighten your elbows and curve your body away from your thighs.  Try to create as much space between your belly button and your pubis as you can.
  • Push into the ground with the tips of your fingers and raise the top of your chest up and forward from the ground.  You can slightly bend your knees if needed. 
  • Gaze forward without tightly crunching the back of your neck.  Take a few breaths while in this position, then breathe out and return to the standing forward bend.

The Sphinx

Focus: Spine

Level: Beginner

Total Time: 5 to 10 breaths

Indications: fatigue, depression

Contraindications: headache, back injury

The Sphinx

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The sphinx strengthens your spine while simultaneously stretching your shoulders, abdomen, lungs, and chest.  It can energize your abdominal organs and help relieve stress.  Individuals with a headache or back injury should avoid this pose. 

  • Begin by lying on your stomach with your legs together.  Tense your tailbone into your pubis and elongate it toward the soles of your feet.  Turn your thighs inward to elongate your sacrum and stretch your lower back to prep it for the rest of this pose. 
  • While actively stretching through your toes, continue to elongate your tailbone.  Slightly tense your hips and activate your legs while resting your brain, eyes and tongue. 
  • Position your elbows under your shoulders and set your forearms on the ground.  Breathe in and raise your head and torso off the ground and into a soft backbend.
  • Softly draw your stomach up from the ground to make your backbend evenly distributed across your vertebrae. 
  • Stay in this position for five to 10 breaths.  To release yourself from this position, breathe out, gently lower your stomach to the ground followed by your chest and head. Lay your head on its side and rest on the ground for a few moments as you breathe consistently.

The Sage

Focus: Spine

Level: Intermediate

Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds

Indications: backache, hip pain, constipation, asthma, exhaustion

Contraindications: spinal injury, blood pressure (high or low), diarrhea, insomnia, migraines

The Sage

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The sage strengthens and stretches your spine while stretching your shoulders and energizing your brain.  It offers relief to sufferers of backache and hip pain.  Experts also believe the sage can offer relief for indigestion, constipation, backaches, restlessness, exhaustion, and asthma.  Those with a back injury should only perform the sage under the supervision of an experienced instructor.  Individuals with blood pressure problems, migraines, diarrhea, or sleeplessness should avoid it entirely. 

  • Begin by sitting in staff pose.  Sit down on the ground and stretch your legs straight forward, flexing your ankles and bending your toes back toward your torso, which is suspended straight and tall, rising from your hips to the sky.
  • Bend your right knee, resting the sole of your right foot on the ground.  Pull this foot close to your sitting bones.  Rotate your left leg slightly inward and anchor your upper thigh into the ground.  Press down your left heel and move the bottom of your big toe away from your abdomen.  Press the inside of your right foot into the ground while relaxing your inner right groin.
  • Anchor the thigh of your straightened left leg to the ground to help elongate your spine. Rotate your body to the right, hooking your left arm over your right thigh.  Hold the outside of your thigh with your hand and use this leverage to pull your thigh up while letting your right hip press into the ground.  Press the tips of your fingers into the ground behind your abdomen, raise your torso to lengthen it, and angle it slightly forward.  Let your groin fall into your abdomen. 
  • Elongate your spine with each inhale and rotate your body further as you breathe out.  Keep your thigh close to your stomach and angle yourself across your shoulder blades to create an upper backbend.  Slowly turn your head to the right.
  • Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. 
  • To exit this pose, breathe out as you release your arms and return to staff pose:  stretch your legs straight forward, flexing your ankles and bending your toes back toward your torso, which is suspended straight and tall, rising from your hips to the sky.  Breathe in, filling your lungs and expanding your chest.  Breathe out slowly, taking twice as long to empty your lungs as you took to fill them.  Take another breath and let it out
  • Repeat the process with the other side of your body.

The Hero

Focus: Arches

Level: Beginner

Total Time: 30 seconds plus

Indications: indigestion, flatulence, menstrual pain

Contraindications: ankle injury, knee injury

The Hero

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The hero strengthens the arches of your feet while simultaneously stretching your legs and ankle.  It is great for relieving menstrual pain, indigestion, and flatulence.  Experts believe that the hero can help asthma and high blood pressure.  If you experience heart problems or have a headache, you should avoid this one.  If you have an ankle or knee injury, you should consult with an experienced instructor before taking on this pose.

Note: The safest way to perform the hero, especially at the beginning is by sitting on a yoga block.  It enforces proper positioning of knees and thighs to avoid injury.  You should feel no pain in your knees when you are in this pose. If you feel any pain at all, stop and add some height to your hip support. 

The illustration above provides a modification for more experienced yogis.

  • Lay a folded mat before you and place a yoga block on the ground in front of the mat.  Stand on your knees in the middle of the mat with your ankles supported on its edge. Your knees should be hip-distance apart.  Your feet will extend to either side of the yoga block on the ground, slightly wider than your hips. Inhale.
  • As you exhale, slowly lower your hips between your heels and sit down onto the yoga block, resting your palms comfortably atop your upper thighs.  If you experience any knee pain at all, stop and provide additional seating support, raising your hips to relieve the pressure on your knees.
  • As you breathe in, double-check your feet; the pressure on the ground should come from the center of your feet, not from either inner or outer edges.  Your inner heels should be touching your outer hips.
  • Continue breathing and check that your thighs are parallel. Ensure that your sitting bones are even.  Tilt your hips so that you are sitting atop your sitting bones.  Let your tailbone reach down into the block.  Let your back sustain its normal curvature.
  • Let your arms rise into their sockets and use slight activation in your shoulder blades to expand the top of your chest.  Align your head atop your spine and let your soft gaze be straight ahead and slightly below eye level.
  • As you breathe in deeply, be aware of your breath filling your body and going deep down into your being.  Exhale slowly, following your breath and letting it take with it all tension, stress, and anxiety.
  • Beginners should stay in this position for 30 seconds at first.  Over time you will be able to gradually extend your time in this pose to five minutes. 
  • To release this pose, lean forward, onto your hands and knees and straighten behind you first one leg, and then the other.. 

The Revolved Head to Knee

Focus: Spine

Level: Intermediate

Total Time: 60 seconds

Indications: backache headache, insomnia, exhaustion; improve digestion, liver and kidney function

Contraindications: diarrhea

The Revolved Head to Knee

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The revolved head to knee works to open your spine while simultaneously stretching your hamstrings and shoulders.  It can energize your liver and kidneys and can lead to better digestion.  Experts believe that regularly performing the revolved head to knee can offer relief to those suffering from backaches, sleeplessness, headaches, and exhaustion.  Stay away from this pose if you’re currently suffering from diarrhea. 

  • Begin by sitting with your torso straight upright and your legs spread apart.  Bend your right knee out to the side and draw your right heel up to your groin.  Flex your right knee slightly and move your right heel close to your left buttock. 
  • Breathe out, angle your torso to the left and bring your left shoulder to meet your inner left knee.  Rest your left elbow on the ground inside your left knee, with your palm facing up.  Grasp the big toe side of your left foot.  Elongate the right side of your body, as you stretch your right arm upward to curve over your left thigh.  Continue to stretch your right side until you can touch the toes of your left foot with the fingers of your right hand.
  • Push your left thigh into the ground as you breathe in and gently stretch out your left leg.  Avoid moving your left shoulder away from your knee as you straighten the left leg. 
  • When your left knee is fully extended, you can then turn your head and look toward the sky.  Breathe in and move your right arm straight into the sky, angling toward your left foot.  Breathe in again, stretch your right arm over the left side of your head, and grasp the edge of your right foot.  Move your elbows apart and turn your head toward the sky.
  • Stay in this position for several deep, slow breaths. 
  • To exit this pose, release your left foot with your hands, undo the twist of your torso, and rise up until you are once again sitting upright with your hands lowered at your sides.  Return your legs to straight before you.
  • Repeat this process, stretching to the right side.

The Reclining Hero

Focus: Arches

Level: Intermediate

Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds +

Indications: varicose veins, respiration, high blood pressure, sciatica, infertility, insomnia, flat feet

Contraindications: injury to knee, back, ankle

The Reclining Hero

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The reclining hero works to build strength in your arches while simultaneously stretching your legs, abdomen, and hip flexors.  Regular use can relieve numerous conditions including varicose veins, other leg- and foot-related issues, respiratory conditions, and high blood pressure.  Individuals with ankle, knee, hip, or back injuries should forego this pose.  The prerequisite for the reclining hero is to be comfortable in the hero pose, with or without a block supporting your hips.

  • Begin in the hero, seated on your hips and knees, with your feet – soles upward – just outside your hips. 
  • Breathe out and position your hands on the ground slightly behind you. Angle your torso back onto your hands, then your forearms, keeping your knees and shins rooted on the ground.
  • If your knees or shins come loose from the floor, you have leaned back too far.  Rise back up and lower your torso again, supporting it on your arms but stopping before your knees begin to lose contact with the floor.  This is the perfect position for you.
  •  If you are able to go farther, however, lower your torso until you are lying on your shoulders.  At this point lower your arms to your sides with your palms facing up. 
  • If your ribs stick up dramatically, lower them and press your pubis into your belly button. 
  • Sustain this position for 30 seconds in the beginning.  Over time, you can gradually work your way up to five minutes at a stretch. 
  • To release from this position, push your forearms into the ground and shift your weight onto your hands.  Using the support of your hands, raise yourself back into the hero pose using the strength surrounding your breastbone.

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