If you’re looking to strengthen your back for better posture, relieve pain, or prevent injury, check out these four easy yoga moves to incorporate into your next stretching session.
Benefits: Strengthens arms, shoulders, thighs and back muscles. Improves balance and releases stress in the shoulders.
• Stand straight with legs wide apart. Turn your right foot out at 90 degrees, and your left foot in at around 15 degrees. Make sure the heel of your right foot is aligned to the centre of your left foot.
• Lift both arms sideways to shoulder height with your palms facing upward.
• Breathe out as you bend your right knee. Turn your head and look to your right.
• Stretch your arms wide as you settle into the pose, and make a gentle effort to push your pelvis down.
• Hold pose before breathing in and returning to a centre position.
Benefits: Strengthens spine, stretches chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen. Opens heart and lungs, stimulates abdominal organs, and helps relieve stress and fatigue.
• Lie stomach down on the floor.
• Stretch your legs back with the top of your feet on the floor. Spread your hands under your shoulders. Tuck your elbows back into your body.
• Inhale as your straighten your arms and lift the chest off the floor. Be sure not to overstretch.
• Firm your shoulder blades against your back, pushing your side ribs forward. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout your spine.
• Hold pose for 15-30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor as your exhale.
Benefits: Gently stretches lower back, massages and tones abdominal organs, and stimulates digestion and elimination.
• Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels (your big toes should touch together). Separate your knees as wide as your hips.
• Exhale as your lay your torso between your thighs. Place your arms overhead with your palms on the floor so that your back is fully stretched.
• Breathe slowly and deeply as you actively press the belly against your thighs as you exhale.
• Repeat for four to 12 breaths.
Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend
Benefits: Stretches hamstrings, calves and hips, and strengthens feet, ankles, legs, shoulders and upper back.
• Stand with your feet three to four feet apart and place your hands on your hips.
• Stretch tall through your torso and fold your upper body slowly over your legs.
• Place your hands flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, and begin to stretch your torso forward.
• If you want a deeper stretch, try to bring your head towards the floor. If you can’t touch the floor, step your feet out wider and practice with a slight bend to keep your hamstrings engaged.
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