Ease back pain and stiffness with these 3 simple yoga stretches…
Back pain is, well, a pain! Unfortunately, back pain is all too common today, as it is often caused by sitting for hours at a time, which many of us do at work every day.
Fortunately, there are a number of wonderful yoga stretches that can help release tight muscles and relieve back pain. For best results, do these several times throughout your day, and be sure to get up and walk around often to release your hips and stretch your legs as well.
The three stretches below will help to ease tightness in the upper back and shoulders that often results from spending too much time at the computer or hunched over a desk.
1.) Upward Salute (Also called Upward Facing Hands, or Raised Hands Pose – Urdhva Hastasana)
This is a super simple pose that all beginner yoga students will be familiar with (though you may not know it by name).
To perform this pose, start in Mountain Pose, with feet firmly planted together on the floor, or slightly apart. Rotate your palms away from your body so your thumbs face backwards. Raise your arms slowly above your head so that your palms are facing each other. Stretch and concentrate on lifting your rib cage up as you inhale and exhale several times. If you wish, you can lift your face up and look between your palms.
For an extra challenge, you may then bring your palms together, while keeping your shoulders pulled down and your arms straight. This stretch is great for relieving shoulder and neck stiffness, and is also an energizing full-body stretch.
2.) Eagle Pose (Also called Eagle Arms or Garudasana.)
This is a beginner-to-intermediate pose that looks advanced. This pretzel-like pose offers a great stretch for the shoulders and upper back (don’t worry – it’s easier than it looks)!
Here are instructions for this pose, provided by Mind Body Green:
Sit comfortably in a chair, reach one arm straight out, and laterally rotate both upper arms at the shoulder joint. Crossing your right arm over your left, bend at the elbows with your fingertips pointing upward. Try to touch your palms to each other and take a few breaths, relaxing the shoulders away from the ears. Repeat on the other side.
You can also do this pose standing, and for an extra challenge, wrap the legs as well as the arms (see picture above.)
3.) Forward Fold (Also called Forward Bend, or Uttanasana)
Firmly plant your feet on the floor, keeping them wider than your hips. Breathe in and exhale, folding at the hips and resting your belly on your thighs. Let your head hang like a melon, gently shaking the head “yes” and “no.” Note that you can also do this pose seated in a chair for more support.
Note: Don’t force your legs to straighten if your hamstrings are tight, and be careful that you aren’t hunching your lower back. Focus on relaxing your neck and upper back as you take several deep breaths.
Doing these 3 yoga poses several times throughout your day for just a minute at a time can significantly help relieve back pain and shoulder stiffness – give them a try!