Firstly, I would like to thank you for being part of my yoga community, and wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful 2024! This blog with uplifting yoga to ease lower back tightness is meant to help you move, breathe and feel good as you start the New Year. The focus on movement and breath helps us connect with what is here right now. It enables us to forget our thoughts and worries for a few moments and connect with something enjoyable. The sequence is also designed to soothe mild lower back pain.
This uplifting yoga sequence is meant to be releasing and strengthening if you have mild lower back pain. However, don’t continue a practice if it hurts. Not all back pain has the same cause and is hence not helped by the same exercises. If you would like private yoga sessions to find out what the right practices are for your back and health condition, do book your free consultation here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/book-a-free-consultation-call/.
Start by sitting cross-legged or on a chair.
Start by exhaling with a ‘whooo’ sound (like the sound of the wind), which lengthens the exhalation and engages the abdominal muscles. With every exhalation, feel how your sitting bones are getting a little heavier so you feel more and more ‘grounded’ in the sitting position. The inhalations help you feel a little lighter and taller.
Cross-legged back stretches
1. Keeping both sitting bones on the floor or on the chair, inhale one arm up and slightly over to the side to stretch one side of the body. Exhale to lower the arm. Repeat a few times one each side, keeping the hips grounded and not bending over too far.
2. Place your palms together and lift them high above the head with an inhalation. Exhale and lower the arms down by your side. Repeat a few times.
3. Repeat the movement above, lifting both arms with the inhalation. This time, exhale and place one hand behind you and the other on a knee, still keeping both sitting bones equally down.
Inhale and lift both arms up again. Exhale and rotate the spine to the other side.
Repeat a few times from side to side. Keep this movement very gentle without forcing the rotation.
4. While holding each knee with one hand, exhale and round your back, inhale and straighten the spine, as if the crown of the head is lifted up to the ceiling.
Repeat a few times.
Repeat the whole sequence with the legs crossed the other way round.
On hands and knees, exhale and bring the right knee and forehead towards each other and the left arm next to the body and pointing back. If that’s too complicated to begin with, you can ignore the arm movement for now and keep both hands on the mat.
Inhale and straighten the leg behind you, not too high to keep the lower back comfortable. If you move the arm as well, it moves forward next to your head.
Repeat 4-6x with each side.
Next, hold each side for 4 breaths. Keep looking down and use the “plank breathing”: exhale and contract the abdominal muscles, inhale and release them a little.
Finish by resting in child’s pose, with the hips on the heels and forehead on the mat or on your hands.
Start by lying on your front, with the forehead on the mat.
Place your hands underneath the shoulders so that the tips of the fingers are in line with the top of the shoulders.
Engage the muscles of the lower abdomen to protect your lower back and hold the core firm.
Leave the legs heavy, press down slightly through the toes and the knees.
Inhale and raise the head and shoulders forward and up without pushing on the arms. Because you are not pushing on your arms this is a small movement that spares the lower back but lengthens and strengthens the upper back.
Keep the back of your neck long by looking at the mat.
Exhale and lower the head and shoulders down.
If the lower back is fine with it, repeat 3-5x.
Turn around to lie on your back.
Place one hand on each knee and bring both knees a little closer to the chest when you exhale. Make sure not to lift the hips off the floor.
Inhale and bring the knees further away from you, with the arms extended. Repeat 5-6x
Place your feet on the floor and bend the knees with the feet and knees next to each other.
Extend the arms to the side, at a 90 or 45 degrees angle.
Gently rock the knees from side to side, starting with very small movements.
If it feels comfortable, exhale and lower the knees further to the side. Keep both shoulder blades on the floor. Inhale the knees to the centre and exhale them to the other side. The head also moves, to look away from the knees. Repeat a few times to each side.
Rest with golden exhalations
The ‘golden exhalations’ allow us to release tensions, physical or emotional, by lengthening the exhalation in a natural way. If you have been reading my blog for a while, or indeed if you are my student, you know that this is the breathing I always recommend to relieve stress, anxiety or anger.
There are 3 different kinds of exhalations, which you do about 5 times each with some normal breathing in between each set of exhalations:
sighing the air out 5x
If you are in need of deeply restorative rest positions, do have a look at this blog: https://beneyoga.co.uk/restorative-yoga/.