I love teaching gentle back care yoga. I see students come to class that have had surgeries, injuries, pain, etc. and then I hear how back care yoga is helping them to have more mobility and less pain.
I also love to give “homework” (yoga poses to do between classes) because I know how much benefit I gain when I take the time to do daily yoga (even just a pose or two). Read more about my own 30 days of daily yoga here.
There are plans swimming in my brain about adding photos to this or creating a video, but for now it is just my words. It is much clearer if you have attended a class with me. I will be adding poses to this list. There are so many great ones!
Please remember that if anything doesn’t feel right in your body then you need to modify or come out of the pose. If you have questions about any of the poses listed here or if you want to share poses that help with your back care please leave a comment below. If you have back pain please see a health care provider and ask them if this yoga is safe for your particular body at this time.
Back Care Yoga
Lengthening Breath Meditation
(Relaxes, improves circulation, gives space to vertebrae and space between thoughts)
Lie on back with arms overhead. If support is needed behind the neck – roll a towel or blanket at the natural neck curve. If support is needed under the arms use a bolster or blanket. With each inhale allow space in the abdomen, ribs and imagine space between the vertebrae. With each exhale release any thoughts that are coming in. Notice how long the inhale and exhale are and see if you can equalize them.
(Increases circulation to pelvic muscles and low back, brings awareness to what feels more comfortable for the spine)
Lie on back with arms at the sides, feet planted and knees bent. Begin a very gentle pelvic tilt. On the inhale press the tailbone into the earth. Exhale and let the tailbone lift slightly as the low back presses into the earth. Notice which movement brings relief or increased comfort or if both feel good.
Bridge with Breath
(Stretches iliopsoas and thighs, while warming up the back muscles)
Lie on back with arms at sides on floor. Bend knees and plant feet hip distance apart. Inhale and feel the abdomen and ribs expand. Exhale and lift the pelvis as you engage the abdominal muscles. Press through the feet. Keep the gluteus (buttocks) muscles firm, but not clenched. Inhale and relax down, vertebra by vertebra.
Bridge with Breath and Arms
(Stretches iliopsoas and thighs, while warming up the back muscles and shoulders, moving meditation)
Lie on back with arms at sides on floor. Bend knees and plant feet hip distance apart. Inhale and feel the abdomen and ribs expand. Inhale as you lift the pelvis and the arms up over the head. Press through the feet. Keep the gluteus (buttocks) muscles firm, but not clenched. Exhale and relax down, vertebra by vertebra.
(Opens upper back and shoulders, gentle spinal twist)
Lie on back with feet planted on the floor and knees bent. Reach arms up towards ceiling. Stretch one hand and then the other. Cross the arms until the hands hold on to opposite elbows (and you make a little window shape). Move the elbows from side to side. Knees can move side to side in the opposite direction as the elbows.
Knee to Chest
(Relaxes iliopsoas muscles, releases low back muscles)
Lie on back and hug one knee towards you with the other leg extended out to straight. With each exhale bring the knee in slightly and inhale and let the knee move away. This is a very subtle movement and so effective for relaxing the psoas muscles. Repeat with the other knee and then repeat with both knees hugged in.
Reclined Butterfly with a Blanket
(Restorative Hip Opener that increases circulation to the sacrum and strengthens the inner thighs)
Lie on back with the knees out and soles of the feet together. Support the knees with blocks if needed and/or use a blanket (folded or rolled lengthwise) to wrap over the feet and under the thighs – pull the blanket to get more support. Inhale and let the abdomen and ribs expand. Exhale and bring the knees up towards the ceiling. Inhale and open the knees towards the floor again. If this feels comfortable then you may try and exhale as the knees move to halfway up, pause here and inhale, exhale the other half as the knees move to the top. Then try to do this with 3 and 4 exhales. The legs make shake – this is very natural.
To be continued…