7 Yin Yoga Poses to Increase Back Flexibility (and Decrease Pain)

All of our backs could use a little love. Our spine does a lot for us, it's our turn to do a little bit for it. 

Whether you are experiencing pain in your back due to hunching over at your computer all day, or you are looking to increase your spinal flexibility to further your yoga practice - this Yin sequence is great for everyone!

These poses will focus on the spine. It will help you to improve your posture. It will also help you to get deeper in to back bends and forward folds.

Yin yoga is a passive practice. These poses should be held for between 2-4 minutes, and instead of pushing yourself deep in to the pose, find your edge and stay still. Let gravity gradually open your body in to the posture, working the joints rather than the muscles.

Have 2 blocks close by, roll out your mat and give your back the attention it deserves.

1. Melting Heart -  Also known as puppy pose. Start in table top pose. Making sure your knees are comfortable. If you have any pain in your knees, you may want to add a blanket or double pad your mat underneath them, as you will hold on your knees for a few minutes. Check that your hips are directly over your knees. Walk your palms forward, until your forehead and chest melt down to the mat. Either keep your forearms flat or to get deeper in to your triceps and chest, bring your palms together and reach the thumbs towards the back of the skull. Keep the low belly drawn in towards the low back, so as to not overstretch this area. The focus in this pose is in the upper, not lower back. Breathe in to the space you are creating.

2. Sphinx - From puppy pose, slide forward on to your stomach. Plant the pelvis on to the floor, widen the elbows and palms. Lift the chest, shining your heart forward. Squeeze your shoulder blades back behind you, as you pull your heart forward. Breathe in to the front body. If you are starting to feel any pinching in the back, you may have taken the back bend too deep. Walk your arms forward to lessen the bend. If you are comfortable here, and want to increase the stretch, you can try straightening the arms by lifting the elbows from the ground. Again, if you feel any pinching, don't push it for the sake of the pose, lower back to the elbows.

3. Easy Child's Pose - This pose is extremely nurturing for your spine. Press up to hands and knees. Keeping the knees close together, sit back on your heels. Extend your arms back at your sides. Let the forehead come down to the mat, or if it's more comfortable rest on a block. Let your spine round naturally, to counteract the deep back bend in Spinx. Let your arms be heavy by your sides. Relax fully, breathing in to the back body.

4. Caterpillar - Come up to a seat, extending your legs out in front of you. Have your feet about hip width apart, with blocks close by in case you want them. Allow yourself to naturally round, as you fold forward over your legs. Take a bit of a bend in the knees if it feels good for your body. Choose to let your head dangle, while gravity slowly takes you further in to  the pose. Or if you are closer to the ground, you can prop your forehead up with a block or two stacked. Lowering the blocks as your body opens up in to the forward fold. Turn your palms upwards, so that you don't find yourself tempted to use muscular effort to pull deeper in to the fold. In this intense fold, can you breathe deeply down through the back body? After a few moments here, be mindful as you slowly come out of the pose. Start to push your hands in to the ground and keep breathing as you slowly lift back up.

5. Supported Bridge - Lower all the way down to your back. Bend your knees and walk your feet in close to the sit bones. Push your feet in to the floor, lifting your hips up off of the mat. Slide your block underneath the hips on either the lowest or middle height. Whichever level feels right for your body today. You can choose to keep your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Or extend your legs out in front of you. Check in with your spine, that it's not feeling compressed or aching here. When you are ready to exit the pose, bend your legs if they are extended, and slide the block out to the side.

6. Lying Spinal Twist - This is another great counter pose after deep back bends. Laying on your back, open your arms out to the sides. Bend your knees and bring the soles of the feet to the floor. Shift your hips slightly to the right, and lower your knees down to the left. Keeping the knees stacked one on top of the other, or crossing the right over the left. See if you can turn your head and gaze towards the right fingertips. Creating as much space as you can between the right hip and right shoulder. After a few minutes hold, float your knees back up, shift the hips the other direction, and drop knees to the right.

7. Savasana -  Take up some space on the ground. Get comfortable as you extend the legs and arms long. Turn your palms to face up. Let your body relax fully. Let the breath return to its natural rhythm. Take a few moments here, noticing the effects of this practice on your spine. Digest the work you have done during this time on your mat. Give yourself this gift of stillness for a few minutes more before you carry on with your day.

Struggle with timing in Yin poses, find yourself constantly thinking about when it should be over? Practice along with me in the video below, so all you have to do is hold the post until I lead you out.



Namaste,
Kassandra

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1 comment:

  1. As a person who suffers from back pain, I can't stress enough how beneficial physical therapy is to out physical and mental health. It's sad that people don't know how impactful undergoing physical therapy is. A website that has helped me become more aware of physical therapy is Preferred Rehab , you should check it out!

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