Five yoga poses for greater upper back flexibility
Yoga has asanas or postures for improving flexibility in all 640-plus muscles in the body, as well as to strengthen them.
Flexibility is the range of motion in your joints and muscles - it determines how much and how freely you can move them
Yoga has asanas or postures for improving flexibility in all 640-plus muscles in the body, as well as to strengthen them
Because of these benefits, and because yoga doesn’t require special equipment, it is a great workout option for most of us
Flexibility is the range of motion in your joints and muscles - it determines how much and how freely you can move them. Over time, your joints and muscles can become stiff. Part of this is because of the natural process of ageing. But part of it has to do with lifestyle and can be reversed with exercise.
Yoga has asanas or postures for improving flexibility in all 640-plus muscles in the body, as well as to strengthen them. In 2016, researchers at three American universities ran a 10-week experiment to measure the benefits of yoga on a group of college athletes. At the end of the study period, they found that the group that did yoga in addition to their training had significantly more flexibility in their legs, back and shoulders than the control group, who only followed their regular training regime. Their study was published in the International Journal of Yoga, as “Impact of 10-weeks of yoga practice on flexibility and balance of college athletes”.
Because of these benefits, and because yoga doesn’t require special equipment, it is a great workout option for most of us. However, it is best to start your practice with a trained yoga teacher to get the desired results and avoid injuries. Some asanas may be unsuitable for people with back pain - do check with your doctor or physiotherapist before doing these.
Here are five yoga asanas that can help improve flexibility in your upper back:
- Come on all fours, making sure your palms are under your shoulders and your knees are in line with your hips
- Now, rest your elbows on the mat in such a way that your arms form an “L”. Place your palms on the mat
- Extend the legs back and rest your torso on the mat
- Move your elbows slightly forward - they should be just ahead of your shoulders. Look straight ahead
- Hold this position for five to six breaths
- Come back to starting position
- Repeat three to five times
Seated forward bend pose:
- Sit on the mat with your legs extended
- Breathe in and lift your arms overhead
- Breathe out and bend forward till your stomach is resting on your thighs
- Try to hold the big toes on your feet. If this is not possible, hold your ankles
- Stay in this position for 40 seconds. With every breath, try to go deeper into the stretch
- Breathe out and come back to the starting position
- Do three repetitions
Upward plank pose:
- Sit on the mat with your legs in front of you. Point your toes
- Place your palms on the mat behind you. Your fingers should be pointing towards your buttocks and you should be able to bend your elbows slightly to put weight on your arms
- Now, lift your buttock off the mat and straighten your arms to come into the reverse plank. An easier option is to place your elbows on the mat - your legs should be straight and the body in one line from head to toe
- Check that your body is in a straight line and gently tilt your head back - take care to avoid any jerky movement in this pose
- Hold this position for 30-50 seconds
- To return to the starting position, gently lift your head so it is in line with the body, lower the buttocks on to the mat, take the weight off your arms and sit up straight
Half lord of the fishes pose:
- Sit with your legs straight in front of you
- Gently bend your knees
- Now, drop your right knee on the floor and bring your right foot close to the left hip
- Twist your waist and place your right elbow against the outer part of your left knee
- Use the right elbow to push against the left knee and twist more
- Turn your head to look back
- Come back to the starting position
- Repeat on the other side
- Do three repetitions on each side
- On the mat, stand on your knees with your thighs slightly apart
- Curl your toes, so they can give you more support later on in the pose
- Place your palms on your back, with the fingers pointing down
- Suck your belly button in, raise your chest and bend backwards - use your hands for support. Look up
- Advanced practitioners can place their hands on their heels - in this case, the arms should be straight
- Hold this position for 30 seconds before returning to the starting position
Perform the shavasana, or sleeping pose, to end your session. Lie down on your back, close your eyes and try to relax every muscle in the body. Breathe normally. Stay in this position for three to five minutes. Gently turn to one side, and get up to sit cross-legged. Open your eyes.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/yoga
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