How to Strengthen Your Back with Yoga
It’s been two years now that I have been practicing yoga. It was easy for me to come to the conclusion that strength and power are the first and foremost necessity especially, if you are a teacher. With strength and power, it is easy to focus on the posture and there is lowered risk of injury. Moreover, it braises your body and guards the spine. It also allows the flow of movement with greater ease.
You can work on your core strength via yoga just like me. All I did was focus on my primary bandhas. The primary bandhas i.e. mula and uddiyana are energetic locks located throughout the body. The mula bandhas supports the pelvic muscles and its contractions. The uddiyana bandhas supports the engagement of belly towards the spine. These bandhas help in deeper strength and power.
Let me share some of my favourite yoga poses with you to strengthen up you back:
Dolphin plank pose: Place your forearms on the mat. The elbows beneath the shoulders. Pressurize your elbow and forearms downwards. Keep your shoulder blades stiff and your neck long. Lift up your knees with the help of quadriceps. Hold the position for 30 seconds. This pose engages your bandhas that we discussed above and prepares you for the strength of your body. Initially, I held the position for two minutes. Now, it is easier to hold the position for longer. Though this is the first step; you can also add variations in this pose once it feels easy.
Cat-Cow pose: Get down on your knees and arms. Look at the ground and make your neck parallel with the spine. Lean your abdomen down and look up to the sky. Round your back while breathing out. Drop your head to peep at your navel. Breathe in and move back to the previous position. This pose releases stress in your back, neck, spine and even the muscles. It warms up your body and maintains flexibility in the back. While strengthening your back you can work on its flexibility too.
Locust pose: Lie on your stomach, hands stick to your body. Squeeze in your thighs, buttocks, and kneecaps. Engage your mula bandhas and prepare to lift your legs, head, chest, and arms in the air. Inhale as you lift your lower and upper body. Make sure your neck and spine are aligned while in the air. Try to hold the pose for 2-6 breaths. Lay down your legs, chest, head, and arms slowly while exhaling. Turn the head to one side and rock your butts side to side to release tension in the back. This pose targets your back completely as compared to other poses. I was a sufferer of back pain like most of the population. What this pose has done for me is something even my heavy medical bills couldn’t do.
Vinyasa yoga: Every yoga instructor modifies vinyasa yoga as per themselves. For me, vinyasa involves transitions between upward and downward facing dog. Along with the transitions you need to pay attention to your breathing. Your transitions must be aligned with your breathing. I noticed that over a period of time my transitions got smoother. Modifying the pose or shifting into another one was like a piece of cake.
Crescent lunge pose: Front foot with one leg at a right angle. The backward leg should be straight without a bend. Tuck your pelvis under with the ribcage. Lift up your arms and elbows with no bend even in the wrist. Stare straight into the wall facing you. Hold this position for at least a minute. In spite of being a basic step, it strengthens up your front and back torso. Add variations into the same and try to hold the poses for longer. It opens up your spine, shoulder, back muscles, ribcage etc. and allows them to breathe as you inhale and exhale boosting the strength of core muscles.
Low lunge twist pose: Begin this pose in downward facing dog position. Front foot your left leg forward at 90 degrees. Make sure your hands are aligned with the foot forward. Allow knee of the leg backward touch the floor. Lift up your left arm and shoulder and try to touch the sky. Your right arm should be parallel with your left foot while stretching your left arm up. Twist your torso for maximum stretch. Stay in the position for 5-7 breaths. Repeat the same with the other side. In this pose, it is easy to release tension in the lower back, torso, and shoulders. While releasing the tension you gradually enhance your stability.
The poses that I have mentioned above are done in three levels based on your experience and practice. The three levels i.e. beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each level is the gate for another level. Moreover, it prepares your body for the upcoming changes. Though I have been practicing yoga for 2 years but didn’t skip the levels. I would suggest you the same. Do not skip the levels. You might be in good shape but sometimes an easy move works way better than the tough ones.
What are you waiting for then? Go ahead, and start practicing and do share how did you feel and what modifications did you make.
Meet Our Yoga Teachers
Gabriele (Gaby) Alscher
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