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3 Simple Yoga Stretches to Improve Spinal Mobility

DISCLAIMER: Please consult a Physician or licensed Physical Therapist before engaging in a new physical exercise regime. 

When it comes to everyday life, stretching your body daily may not be in your agenda. If stretching is, there is sometimes neglect in utilizing your time for your spine.  

Below are three simple yet effective stretches to improve your flexibility and release tension held in the back:

  1. Cat-Cow (Coordination) – Cat (Marjaryasana) Cow (Bitilasana)

How to:

-Begin in a tabletop position with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees for proper alignment. 

-Inhale, mindfully arch the back and allow the navel to draw toward the earth. Chin and gaze lift slightly as the back of the neck pull toward the tailbone. 

-Exhale, mindfully round through the mid-back as the navel scoops in onward the spine. Chin tucks in toward the chest and the back of the neck lengthens. Gaze toward inner thighs. 

Try it:

-Once you get the hang of the movement, try taking it a bit faster to create balance on the glandular system. 

-Take more subtle movements if pregnant. 

-Make circles with your spine if you feel called! This increases mobility in your warm-up.

-If you experience pain in the wrists, make a fist and press the ringside of your fingers into the earth.

2. Thread the Needle (Rotation) – Urdhva Mukha Pasasana 

How to:

-Begin in that tabletop position with spine neutral. See above for alignment.

-Inhale, lift the left arm toward the sky. Exhale, thread the arm between the right arm and right thigh. Press the bottom ear toward the earth, stretching the upper back and shoulders. Gaze is looking up toward the ceiling as the right palm presses into the earth. Take several breaths here.

-Inhale, unthread the needle, and switch to the other side. 

Try it:

-You can place a pillow or rolled-up blanket under your ear and torso for added support. 

-Extend the supporting arm for a deeper stretch and extend the same side leg for a challenge.

-Another challenge is grabbing the heel or ankle with the same arm as a leg.

3. Gate Pose (Side Bending) – Parighasana 

How to:

-Begin upright in a kneeling position. Toes can be tucked or untucked.

-Extend one leg out laterally, toes face forward, the knee is straight but not locked, the other knee is still in kneeling position. 

-The arm on the extended leg side presses into the shin. Exhale, reach the arm on the side of the kneeling leg up and overhead. Gaze looks up toward the top of the arm. Careful not to dump your weight into the pressed palm and roll the top shoulder back to open the chest. 

Try it:

-Softly bend the extended leg to minimize cramping of the gluteus medius.

-Gaze forward if you experience any neck tension or pain. 

-May use a block or place the palm on the earth behind the extended leg for a deeper chest opening and side bending action.

*Also allows a stretch in the obliques and psoas*

Please note that this article is to inform all and not cure anyone experiencing chronic pain, disorder, or illness. Consult a doctor if you have such symptoms.