A strong, flexible back is so valuable for overall health and well-being. Any one who suffers from any kind of back pain or has a limited range of motion can attest to that.

To keep our backs strong, we need to be proactive and get our bodies moving in a regular activity to prevent injury.

Luckily there are ways to start making our backs more pliable while increasing strength right at home through yoga. Those with injuries will benefit from the gentleness that yoga offers.

These 5 poses will do wonders for your back and will even strengthen the rest of your body along the way.

Remember to move slowly and honor your body. If you have any injuries, please consult a doctor before practicing.

1. Cat cow

  • Starting position:
  • Get on your hands and knees with your knees in line with your hips and your wrists in line with your shoulders.
  • Keep knees and shins hip distance apart.
  • Point your fingers towards the top of the mat with your head in a neutral position.

Now move into Cow:

summerperezback cowpose

  • Inhale and lift your chin and chest, gazing up towards the ceiling and dropping your belly towards the floor. (However, if your neck won’t allow it, keep your gaze forward.)
  • Keep your back and shoulders strong by pulling your shoulders away from your ears.

Then into Cat:

summerperezback cat

  • Exhale and pull your belly in towards your spine, rounding your back with the crown of your head pointed towards the floor.  (Think crunches.)
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Inhale into Cow pose, then exhale into Cat pose.Do 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions.

 

2. Cobra

summerperezbackcobra

  • Lie on your stomach with your legs close together, tops of the feet flat on the ground, head on the ground.
  • Place your hands under your shoulders, with your elbows close to your body.
  • Inhale and slowly raise your head and upper body, pushing the ground equally with your hands to keep your shoulders away from your ears, and arch your back, if possible.
  • Depending on your flexibility, you can straighten your arms and either look forward, tilt your head back, or fully arch your back and neck.
  • Engage your core to support your lower back and keep your legs strong.
  • Check in with your breath and see how it feels to you. Take full, steady breaths. Don’t overextend yourself. Always honor your body.
  • Now exhale and slowly lower your upper body to the ground.

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3. Downward facing dog

summerperezbackdownwarddog

  • From standing, bend over and place your hands shoulder distance apart.
  • Step your feet back into plank position.
  • Exhale and lift your hips toward the ceiling by pressing your hands into the ground until your body makes an inverted V. Walk your feet in (possibly 6-12 inches), if needed, until you feel strong in the V.
  • Your heels may or may not touch the ground. Just listen to your body, enjoy the stretch, and make sure to keep your shoulders and back strong by continuing to press into the ground.
  • Engage your core and keep your legs strong.
  • Keep the weight distributed through your fingertips and feel the energy rise up through your forearms.
  • You can keep your head in like with your arms or pull it through to open the shoulders.

 

4. Upward Plank

summerperezback upward plank

  • Sit with your legs extended in front of you and your hands slightly behind your hips, fingers facing towards your feet.
  • Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground about a foot or so away from your butt.
  • Press your hands and feet into the ground and lift your hips so that you are in table pose.
  • Extend one foot at a time, and if your neck allows, drop your head backwards.

 

5. Plank

summerperezback plank

  • Start on all fours with arms straight, wrists directly under your shoulders, palms flat (though if you find you’re putting too much pressure on your wrists, you can curl your fingertips to distribute the weight).
  • Step both feet back to straighten your legs, keeping your feet hip distance apart, toes curled under.
  • Maintain a straight line from the crown of your head through to your heels by engaging your core and quads.

 

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