Yoga Moves to Strengthen and Support Your Back

Adina Crawford smiles as she demonstrates Mountain Pose

All photos courtesy of Ahmar Hamdani Shah

Whether you’re struggling with back pain, or aiming to improve your strength and mobility, a regular yoga practice can be incredibly helpful. Yoga is commonly recommended by coaches and medical professionals to help soothe and strengthen the back muscles, as well as stabilize the vertebrae, abdominal muscles and the spine. If you’re suffering from extreme back pain, check with your doctor before trying these exercises.

These five poses can be done individually or as a sequence.

Adina Crawford demonstrates Sphinx pose

Sphinx Pose

Benefits: Strengthens the back and opens the shoulders.

How to do it: Begin by lying on the belly with your legs together.

Lengthen the tailbone and actively engage the core muscles as you begin to press the top of your feet down into the mat.

Bring the shoulders away from the ears.

Bring the forearms parallel to each other, positioning the elbows under the shoulders. Your hands should be parallel to one another with your fingers spread wide.

As you inhale, lift the torso, press the toes into the mat, squeeze the elbows. Bring the eye gaze forward. Hold for one to two minutes.

Modifications: Spread the legs to hip distance apart and bring a pillow under each arm.

 Adina Crawford demonstrates Child's pose

Child’s Pose

Benefits: Stretches the spine and hips, lengthens the muscles in the back and calms the nervous system.

How to do it:

Start in a tabletop position with hips over knees, shoulders over wrists and a flat, neutral spine.

Open the knees wide and bring the big toes to touch one another. Bend the knees and bring the hips toward your heels.

Bring the tailbone back and lengthen through the spine.

Bring your arms forward, spread the fingers wide and rest your forehead on the mat. Hold for two to five minutes.

Modifications: Bring the arms down by your side and turn your palms up. Bring the eye gaze sideways. You can also use a blanket under the knees for additional support.

 Adina Crawford demonstrates downward facing dog pose

Downward Facing Dog

Benefits: Strengthens the hips, thighs, back, hamstrings, calves, feet and ankles. Relaxes the back muscles and improves posture.

How to do it: Begin on your hands and knees. Press your hands into the mat and tuck the toes.

Shift your hips back, raise the tailbone up and engage the abdominal muscles.

Shift your stomach toward your thighs.

Your knees should have a slight bend and not be locked.

Keep your hands at a shoulder-width distance, spread the fingers wide and press the forefingers into the mat.

Gaze toward your belly and hold for thirty to forty seconds.

Modifications: Bend your knees more or shorten or widen your stance.

Adina Crawford demonstrates Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose (Twist arms and shoulders)

Benefits: Strengthens the upper back, opens the hips and shoulders.

How to do it: Stand tall, and bring the legs together. Spread the toes wide by pressing the four corners of the feet into the mat.

Engage the abdominal muscles and draw the tailbone down.

Lift the chest up.

Open your arms wide to shoulder level with palms facing up and your gaze forward.

Hold for thirty to forty-five seconds.

Modifications: Separate your feet to hip-distance apart. Reach the arms up and rotate the palms in.

The information on this website is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.

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