How to strengthen your upper and lower back with yoga

how to strengthen your upper and lower back with yoga

If you suffered from back pain, and you are now committed to keep looking after your back, I have a great practice for you. It’s also beneficial to prevent back pain and keep your back supple and strong. After all, you may know how to stretch your back and how to strengthen core muscles, but do you know how to strengthen your upper and lower back? This blog teaches you how to strengthen your upper and lower back simultaneously with one simple and efficient yoga movement. If you would like to maintain the health of your back, its strength and flexibility, this yoga movement is a good one to add to your exercise regime and do a few times a week.

This exercise tones and strengthens the upper body, the core muscles, gluts, shoulders, arm and neck muscles. It’s also good for balance and left-right coordination. Do try it and let me know how you get on! As always, discontinue if the movement is causing you any pain.

How to strengthen your upper and lower back with yoga

Start on all fours on a yoga mat or a carpet, hands shoulder-width apart underneath the shoulders and knees hip-width apart under the hips. You may like a blanket under the knees if that is more comfortable.

Starting with the lower back: only the legs

Exhale and move the right knee to the forehead and the forehead to the knee. Your spine arches up like the back of an angry cat.
Inhale and lengthen the leg away behind you while straightening the back, so the head, trunk and right leg are all in one line.
Repeat a few times slowly. The slower you work the more control your muscles need and the more they strengthen. Try the same with the left leg.

how to stretch the whole back

Strengthening the upper back: add the arm movement

Do the same movement with the legs but while your right leg is straightening, bring the left arm up and next to your ear so it is also in line with the trunk and the right leg.
Next, while bending your right knee towards your forehead, bring the left arm backwards by the side of your body.

how to strengthen the upper and lower back with yoga

Stage 3: Holding the pose — “the Hunting Dog”

Once you’ve done the pose dynamically, you can stay in the “long version” (with the leg, arm and trunk all in one line) for a few breaths or up to a minute. While breathing in, feel the ribs expand to the side, then contract the abdominal muscles (pulling the abdomen up towards the spine) while breathing out. This pose is sometimes called the hunting dog, sometimes tiger. Focus on your alignment and keep the centre of the body steady and strong. Make sure the lower back does not dip down and the back leg is not lifted too high. If you feel this is the case, slightly tilt the tailbone down, thus lengthening the lower back.

Rest in child’s pose afterwards, or on your back.

beneyoga child's pose

For the correct alignment of this exercise, it helps to practise a few times near a low mirror, so you can check if your hips are level, your back straight and the trunk, arm and leg are in one line. Alternatively, you could connect with me for an in-person or a Zoom session to practise this and other beneficial exercises for your back. Click here for a free consultation call:


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