Our backs hold so much tension, especially this time of year, between travel, shopping, winter sports, and holiday stress. Yoga is extremely kind to our backs and helps us strengthen and lengthen the muscles in our back and hips.
Oftentimes, tight hip flexors or outer hips can pull on the back and make it tighter. These stretches will help ease any tension in the back and help you feel better all winter long.
You can roll out your yoga mat, or even just do these on the floor anywhere and anytime to make sure your back is healthy and feeling good so you can enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year!” Put them together as a sequence, and use these back stretches to relieve tension.
P.S. I love to do these in front of the fireplace after a long day of skiing.
1. Extended Child’s Pose
From your shins, sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forward, relaxing your forehead to the floor. Feel your lower back, hips, and waist stretching out as you tap in to your deep ujayii breathing.
Stay here 8-10 breaths until you feel calm and connected.
2. Cat/Cow Pose
Come on to your hands and knees and take a few Cat/Cow stretches, arching and rounding your back. Link your breath to the movement and open up your spine.
Stay here for as many rounds as feels good for you.
3. Pigeon Pose
Next, bring your right knee forward towards the right side of your right hand and your right foot towards the left hand. Lower you back leg straight down to the floor, lower your forearms down, and hold Pigeon for 8 to 10 breaths.
Make sure you're not sinking into either hip (you can prop the right buttocks up if you're very tight). You can also lower your forehead down to the floor or a pillow.
After about 5 breaths, switch sides.
4. Star Pose
Bring the soles of the feet together and bend your knees into a kite shape.
Tarasana, Star Pose, is more restorative then Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s Pose) because your inner thighs aren’t getting as deep of a stretch, and you can round your torso forward, resting the head, neck, and shoulders as you breathe into the lower back, outer thighs, and groin.
Stay here 8-10 breaths. You can also place a block under your forehead if you want it to be more restful.
5. Reclined Goddess
Lie down on your back, keeping your feet together and knees apart, and come into Reclined Goddess Pose. You may need to slide your heels a bit closer to your groin to see what is most comfortable for you. You can prop your outer upper thighs with pillows or blocks if you wish.
Lie in Reclined Goddess for as long as you wish and watch your breath. If you like, place your hands on your belly, and you can watch the rise and fall of the abdomen as you breathe.
Finish in Savasana. If you feel any tension when you’re resting in final relaxation, roll up a blanket, bolster, or towel and place it under your knees.
You can also fold up a blanket and place it under your mid back as well.
I hope these stretches help your back feel better and keep it stretchy and strong all winter long. Namaste!