This 3-part yoga sequence for back stretching is perfect for women who need to strengthen or stretch their back but don’t have a lot of time in their day. If you want to do all three exercises in one sitting, you certainly can, but the actual intent is to select one of the three to complete. All you’ll need is 5 minutes a day to commit to a healthier you!
Yoga for the Back, Neck, and Shoulders
There are many benefits for the back when practicing yoga. Some of these benefits include strengthening the back and core muscles. It also can relieve tension and stress. Yoga can be especially beneficial for those who hold tension in their shoulders and neck. For those with back pain, holding yoga poses can help strengthen essential back muscles. This may relieve back pain or prevent future injuries.
Nicole Payseur, who teaches yoga in the Dallas area, will be leading you through this short yoga sequence. In only 5 minutes, these moves will help you stretch and relax your neck, back, and shoulders.
Yoga #1: Seated Back and Neck Stretching
This seated yoga sequence focuses on stretching out the back and neck. You will feel the lengthening of the spine and side ribs. This sequence is excellent for beginners or people looking for a stretch in a short amount of time. If you have more time, this sequence is a great way to begin a yoga session. By the end, you should feel taller, stretched, and centered.
1. Come to a seated position with your legs crossed and spiral or circle from your waist in one direction. Shift the cross of your legs and spiral the other way.
2. Place your hands on your shoulders and roll your shoulders back.
3. Extend the arms upward. On an exhale, lower your right hand down to the ground while bringing your right arm over your head. Repeat to the other side.
4. Bring your left hand to your knee; your right hand extends behind you. Sit up straight and on an exhale, twist. On an inhale, come back to the front and look over your right shoulder. Breathe. Repeat on the other side.
5. Bring the arms over your head. Knit your fingers together and bring your arms down in front of you. Gently swing them from one side to the other. Then, as you inhale, bring your arms overhead and look up. Exhale, round your back and bring your arms down to the ground. Wrap your hands behind your head, elbows forward, and look back. Reverse the thread of your hands and repeat.
Yoga #2: Relieve Tension and Relax Your Spine
Start by finding a seated position that will be comfortable for you to hold for the duration of this sequence. If you need to pad your yoga mat with a blanket or sit on a blanket, please do so! Give yourself permission to make this sequence comfortable for you. After this sequence, you should feel in the moment and be more aware of your body.
1. Roll the shoulders back, then forward. Roll your head clockwise, then counterclockwise.
2. Creep your left hand out to the side and bring your right arm up and over to the left side. Stay for five breaths. Inhale arms up, hands touching. Get taller. Then, reach to your right to repeat the sequence.
3. Creep your left hand out to the side and bring your right arm up and over to the left side again. This time, bring your right hand to your left knee and walk your left hand behind you for a spinal twist. Inhale, release and twist forward.
4. Round the back on an exhale. Inhale, lift the chin, and look up. Uncross your legs and windshield wiper your legs from side to side. Then cross again with your non-dominant leg on top. Repeat the twist sequence to your right.
5. Inhale palms to touch over your head, then lean gently from side to side—right fingertips to the floor. Left hand to the earlobe and pull your head to the side. Then keep the shape but move your right elbow down to the ground, so your left elbow points up. Then extend the left arm strong and straight. Repeat to the other side.
6. Inhale palms to touch over your head, then swing your fingertip to the ground behind you. Inhale, lift the chin, and look up. Exhale around the back. Repeat three times.
7. Bring the soles of the feet together, knees wide apart, for a butterfly pose. Rock from right to left. Move the hands forward to lean over your feet. Come up, cross the ankles, and move the hands forward to lean over your feet. Come up—shoulder roll.
8. Right fingertips forward. Use your left hand to carry the right arm to the left. Look to the right. Reverse.
Yoga #3: Alleviate Tech Neck And Jaw Tension
Tech neck is a side effect of engaging with your phone and computer all day. It’s most commonly seen when someone is texting, and their chin is tucked, no longer parallel to the ground. This sequence focuses on eliminating the stress and tension in your neck, jaw, and shoulders that this position creates.
1. Begin in hero’s pose, placing a blanket between heels and bum if necessary. Vigorously rub your hands, then massage the back of the neck and shoulders. Vigorously rub hands together again, this time massaging the outside of your jaw. Open and close the jaw, and close your eyes while massaging.
2. Vigorously rub hands together again. Take three fingers to the temples, tipping the head forward. Close your eyes while massaging at the edge of your eyebrows.
3. Vigorously rub hands together one last time. Keeping hands and eyes closed, cup your eyes and lean your head forward. Release your eyes into the darkened cave of your hands, maintaining slow, steady breaths. As you breathe, move your shoulders away from your ears.
4. Move to table pose, shoulders stacked above hands and on your knees. Round the back into cat, before moving onto cow pose, back arched and head tilted up. Round the back once more, letting the head fall, and swing the torso from side to side.
5. Keep the left hand down, right arm up, rolling out the right wrist. Then move the right ear and shoulder down to the mat, threading the right arm under your body. Reach the right arm and press down into the floor so the shoulder gets the stretch.
6. Come out, swaying your body from left to right. Repeat step five on the alternate side, so the righthand stays down, and the left hand goes up, then threaded under the body, left shoulder stretched.
7. Go back into cat-cow. Then, right hand forward and right leg back. Walk the right hand and foot over toward the left. Come back to the center, then repeat with the left arm and leg.
8. Once again, bring the right hand forward and the right leg back. Then, walk the right arm and leg to the left. However, this time, turn sideways and bend, trying to find your right heel with your right hand. Holding onto your heel, let your head fall to the side, stretching the entire right side of the back.
9. Release and come to toes touching, knees wide, stretching your hands forward. Place your head down and hold this pose for several breaths in child’s pose. If this causes discomfort, place the blanket between your heels and bum, or place the blanket in your lap and fold it over.
10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 on the left side.
11. Barring any issues with your neck, keep your knees and shins on the ground, raising up on arms to the side. Tuck your chin and bring the top of your head to the mat. Roll your head on the mat to the hairline, then roll it back so the top of the head is back on the mat. Repeat rolling the head 3 – 5 times total.
12. Repeat step 11.
13. Place elbows on the mat and place your chin on the heel of your hands. Allow your neck to come forward for a good stretch. Move your shoulders away from the ears and bring your eyes to close.
14. Sitting with legs crossed or in a comfortable position, shake it off. Now, get silly, making your mouth into an o-shape, moving your shoulders up and down, and doing big belly laughs four times. Your diaphragm should be moving up and down. Repeat for four rounds total. Shake it off once again.
15. Bring hands to knees in the lotus position. Get taller. Close your eyes and breathe, relaxing your shoulders from your ears. Slowly flicker eyes open.