Since I spent the last couple of posts in the beginner yoga series talking about how having an open and strong lower body can help relieve back pain (read them here and here), I decided, why not share how you can actually have a strong back? Today, I’m sharing 5 beginner yoga poses for a strong back.
You know, one thing I love about my yoga practice that I never considered until I started writing this was how much more aware I am of my body now.
The first time I did a back strengthening routine, my whole back was so sore the day after, I thought I broke something! Then I realized, it was just the regular muscle soreness you get after working out a muscle group that’s been ignored for a while.
But let’s be real, how often do you think about the muscles in your back? I know I didn’t, at least not actively, before yoga. Strength was all about those arms, legs and abs. But the back is the second half of the core that often gets ignored. A strong core is very essential in any yoga practice. Having a strong core supports your upper body in backbends, aids in floating in arm balances and helps to maintain good posture in standing poses. So, let’s jump right in, remember to hold each pose for 3 to 5 slow breaths.
5 Beginner Yoga Poses for a Strong Back
Sphinx Pose | Salamba Bhujangasana
How To: Begin by lying face down on your mat. Bring your palms forward and place them directly under your shoulders. Using your back muscles, push the floor away slightly, while lifting your head and chest. Slowly place your forearms on the floor, one at a time, with your elbows now directly under your shoulders. Relax your shoulders and legs, while pulling your chest forward. To come out, slowly lower your chest to the floor, and return to a lying position with your arms by your sides.
Benefits: Strengthens the backs. Stretches the back and ab muscles.
Cobra Twist | Parivrtta Bhujangasana
How To: Begin by lying face down on your mat. Bring your palms to rest on the floor directly below your shoulders, while also resting your chin on the floor. Using your back muscles, slowly lift your upper body from the mat, and press the floor away. Come up as far as comfortable, don’t worry about having straight arms. Shift your right hand inward to rest on the floor in front of your midline. Twisting to the left, reach your left arm back to rest on the inside of your left thigh, and look over your left shoulder. To come out, turn your body back to face forward, place both palms on the floor and slowly lower your whole body back to the mat.
Seated Forward Fold | Paschimottanasana
How To: Begin in a seated position with your legs stretched out in front of you. On an inhale, reach your arms strongly up towards the ceiling, to lengthen your spine. On an exhale, hinge forward at your hips, slide you’re the middle and index finger of both hands on the inside of your big toes and grab your big toes. On another inhale, lengthen your spine and create a flat back, then slowly draw your chest towards your legs on your exhale. Once you’ve reached as far as is comfortable, let your head hang, but do no strain your head towards the legs. All reaching should be done from the chest. To come out, inhale your upper body up with your arms reaching up towards the ceiling. Exhale and drop your hands to return to sitting.
Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings and lower back mucles.
Snake Pose | Sarpasana
How To: Begin by lying face down on your mat. Rest your chin on the floor and interlace your fingers behind you. On an inhale, reach your arms strongly towards the back wall, while lifting your chest and head with your back muscles. Keep your hands lifted from your body, and your shoulders relaxed down your back and away from your ears. Keep your neck relaxed, with your gaze straight ahead. To come out, slowly lower your upper body to the mat, and release your arms to the sides.
Benefits: Strengthens and increases flexibility in the lower back and muscles along the spine. Stretches the chest, abs and shoulders.
Half Locust | Ardha Salabhasana
How To: Begin by lying face down on your mat. Rest your chin on the floor and interlace your fingers under your body. On an inhale, activate the muscles in your lower back to lift your left leg. Make sure your left hip stays level with the right hip. To come out, slowly lower your leg on an exhale.
Benefits: Strengthens the lower back, hamstrings and glutes.
There you have it, 5 beginner yoga poses for a strong back. Don’t let your back muscles become the forgotten child of your core!