The health of our back is crucial to our movement and mobility. In Part 1, I started to explain about yoga elements that do a superb job of maintaining back strength and function. And now for some more…
Utkatasana: Chair Pose
1. Stand in Mountain Pose.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
2. Exhale and bend the knees so you are in a squat position with the feet together. At the same time sweep the arms upward so they are in-line with the ears. The hands are shoulder-width distance apart or wider if the shoulders feel tight.
3. Press the thighs together and lengthen the spine by keeping the chest lifted and the chin parallel to the ground. Spread the toes and maintain even weight distribution through the feet.
4. Draw the shoulders downwards, away from the ears.
5. Hold for five breaths.
As the spine is extended in this asana, the entire back is both stretched and strengthened. Also, by raising the arms in this posture, the muscles of the back have to work more strongly.
1. Lay face down with the legs together and place the hands on the ground inline with the chest with the arms pressed against the rib cage.
2. Press the tops of the feet into the floor to activate the legs and gluteal muscles.
3. Lightly press into the hands and lift the head, chest and shoulders away from the floor.
4. Actively draw the shoulders down and away from the ears and keep the chin level to the floor. Think about lengthening from the navel to the chin whilst the spinal extensors contract strongly. Hold for five breaths.
This asana stretches and extends the spine, increasing both its flexibility and strength. Cobra is also beneficial for the digestive system it applies slight pressure to the abdomen and helps to massage the internal organs.
Parivrtta Trikonasana: Revolved Triangle
1. Step the feet approximately one metre apart and place the hands on the hip bones.
2. Turn the left foot in forty-five degrees to the right and the right foot out to the right ninety-degrees. Ideally align the right heel with the left heel but if that restricts the rotation of the pelvis, then step the left foot out to the left 3-4 inches/10-12cm.
3. Turn the torso to the right and extend the spine forwards until the upper body is parallel to the ground.
4. Reach the left hand down to the shin or onto a yoga block (positioned against your inner right foot).
5. Extend the right arm up and rotate the torso so the right shoulder stacks on top of the left shoulder. Keep the chin in line with the sternum to avoid strain in the neck.
6. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
This asana rotates the spine strongly, especially the middle spine. As there is an element of balancing in this posture, the spinal stabilisers are also strengthened as they work to support the spine. It also strongly stretches the hamstrings and calf muscles.
If you give these a go I can assure you you’re giving your back some seriously good attention.
Practised regularly these yoga exercises will enhance your back strength, balance and flexibilty – all attributes that only become more important as we get older.
Connect with Expert Sally Parkes.