Five yoga poses for strengthening the upper back
Bad posture and wear and tear can make the upper back ache. The fix: targeted exercises to stretch and strengthen the upper back.
The upper back starts just below the neck, and goes down all the way to your rib cage
Along with muscle fibres and ligaments, it comprises the thoracic spine - this has the all-important functions of protecting the spinal cord and anchoring the rib cage
Bad posture and wear and tear can make this part of the back ache. The fix: targeted exercises to stretch and strengthen the upper back
The upper back starts just below the neck, and goes down all the way to your rib cage. Along with muscle fibres and ligaments, it comprises the thoracic spine - this has the all-important functions of protecting the spinal cord and anchoring the rib cage.
Bad posture and wear and tear can make this part of the back ache. The fix: targeted exercises to stretch and strengthen the upper back.
There are many yoga poses that can help to strengthen your upper back. Here's a selection of five that are suitable for beginners as well as advanced practitioners. If, however, you have back pain or a prior back condition, check with your doctor before attempting the yoga sequence. Also, it’s best to start your practice under the supervision of a trained yoga instructor.
- On a yoga mat, sit down on your heels
- Raise your arms overhead
- Now gently bend forward from the waist, till your palms touch the mat
- Exhale and try to touch your stomach to your thighs
- Hold this position for up to a minute
- Inhale and come back to the starting position
Cat and cow pose:
- Come down on all fours; your hands should be right underneath your shoulders and your knees right below the hips
- Breathe out, curve and stretch your spine upwards, just like a cat
- Hold for 20-25 seconds
- Exhale and return to the starting position
- Breathe in. Curve your back, so that it forms a trough
- Hold this position for 20-25 seconds
- Come back to the starting position
- Repeat five times
Double V pose:
- Lie down on your stomach
- Place your head on a pillow or soft block to raise it slightly
- Hug yourself by crossing your arms (right above left)
- Keep your arms straight with the palm facing downward
- Try to stretch your arms as much as possible
- Switch the arms (left above right) and repeat
- Do five repetitions on each arm
Thread the needle pose:
- Come on all fours, to assume the tabletop position. Divide your weight equally on both knees (avoid this pose if you have knee pain)
- Breathe in, and lift your left arm parallel to the floor. Make sure it’s straight
- Hold for a few seconds
- Then as you breathe out, twist the upper back slightly to bring the left arm under your right arm
- Rest your left shoulder, left palm and left ear on the mat
- Stay in this position for 15-20 seconds
- Come back to the starting position and repeat on the other side
- Come on your knees and hands, to assume the tabletop position
- Gently inch your hands forward till they are just a little ahead of your shoulders
- Breathe out, and move your buttocks back halfway to your heels
- Without bending the arms, bring your head towards the floor
- Hold for a few seconds and then bring your buttocks all the way down to your heels to increase the stretch
- Hold for 15-20 seconds
- Return to the starting position
End your yoga practice with shavasana or sleeping pose: close your eyes and relax all your muscles, right down to your feet. Stay in this position for at least five minutes, then gently sit up and open your eyes.
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