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Those of you who suffer from upper back knots know what a pain (literally and figuratively) it can be to get moving when inflicted with these. However, you may also know that slow, easy, mindful movement can work as well as a visit to a Registered Massage Therapist.
These 5 yin yoga moves will help to give yourself an internal massage!
Take your time setting up and moving out of them. Stay in them for a length of time that feels good. I urge you to work through discomfort, but do ease off if it becomes painful and/or you are experiencing pinching.
You may notice some relief right away, or it might take a couple days to kick in, either way you have done yourself some good on the way to “untying” those knots!
If you have a limited range of motion (from the knots or otherwise), you may want to have a set of blocks nearby to help make the poses more accessible.
These moves come from the YouTube video I posted some time ago Yin Yoga for Upper Back Knots. Feel free to head on over there and practice with me. Or read on to learn the poses and have them in your arsenal the next time you are experiencing a stiff upper back.
1. Easy Child’s Pose – For this variation of child’s pose keep the knees only about hip distance apart. Instead of reaching the arms forward and straining the upper back, reach the arms back palms up at your sides. Let your forehead come to a block or directly to the mat. Connect to your breath, as you imagine it flowing to the area of the knot. Invite the knot to loosen and relax.
2. Thread the Needle – Make your way to hands and knees. Starting with the right side, reach your arm underneath you to the opposite side, until your shoulder and ear comes to rest on the mat or a block. The left hand can then either press to the floor just in front of you or slide forward, but be sure to keep the left shoulder down the back and away from the ear. Keep the hips from shifting forward, instead they should remain stacked directly over the knees. Feel the rib cage expanding with each breath. Repeat on the left side.
3. Straight Legged Forward Fold – Sitting up tall, extend the legs long in front of you. You may choose to keep a small bend in the knees here. If you find yourself rolling back in this position, slide a block underneath your hips for added height. You may want to set another block between the legs in front of you, approximately where your head will fall as you fold forward. Start to walk the palms forward, in this iteration let your spine curve naturally to target the area of tension. Let your head rest onto a block or two at whatever height to support you. As you hold the pose over time, and gravity allows you to fold deeper, lower the blocks. Relax your arms, jaw and facial muscles. As your back body stretches, imagine the breath moving through this posterior chain as you hold the pose.
4. Reclined Spinal Twist – Come all the way down to lying on your back on the mat. Bend the knees and set the soles of the feet on the mat. Extend your arms out to either side, or find cactus arms. Press into the feet as you shift your hips over to the right side. Drop both knees over towards the left. You may opt to either keep the knees stacked one on top of the other or to intensify the stretch by crossing the thighs. Ground the shoulder blades down to ensure the twist is happening throughout the spine. Keep the gaze straight up or turn the neck to look towards the right shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
5. Savasana – You have made it to the final resting pose, and it is not to be forgotten. Take up some space as you make your way flat onto your back. If laying on your back doesn’t allow you to rest with the pain you are currently experiencing you may opt to lay on your side or even on the stomach. Drop the toes out to the sides, let the palms turn up. Feel the difference throughout the body, particularly in the area we were targeting, from the start of the practice until now. Stay here and rest for at least a few minutes. When you feel ready to get up and start moving again, do so mindfully.
Want more details for these poses, or want to be guided through how long to hold each for? Check out the video below.
I hope these poses brought you some relief from back pain. If you enjoyed this practice, please do subscribe to my channel on YouTube – Yoga with Kassandra
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