In my first post about back care, I talked about my own personal experiences and how yoga had helped. These are the five postures I'd recommend for those new to yoga who would like to give it a try to help with caring for your back:
1.Pretzel pose against the wall (2 mins each side)
Lie on your back with your bum about a shin’s length away from the wall. Place both feet on the wall, so that with knees bent the shins are parallel to the floor and your legs are at 90 degrees at the hips and knees.
Flexing the right foot, cross the right ankle over in front of the left knee, keeping the body straight and bum on the floor.
The right knee will now be out at an angle. Use the right hand to push the knee away from the body towards the wall. You should feel a stretch on the back of the thigh and into the buttock. Maintain this pressure so that you can feel the stretch but not any pain or severe discomfort. Hold for 2 minutes.
Return right foot to the wall and rest for a few seconds to feel the sensations in the hip and back of the thigh area.
Swap sides – flex left foot and cross left foot over on to right knee and repeat as above stages (d) and (e)..
2. Doorway hamstring stretch (2 mins each side)
In an open doorway, lie on the floor and place one leg up the wall at the side of the doorway and the other leg through the doorway, so the leg up the doorway will be at approximately 90 degrees to the other leg.
The leg through the doorway can be either flat along the floor (in which case flex the foot) or you can have the foot on the floor with the knee bent (useful if your hamstrings are very tight). Flex the foot of the leg that is up the wall.
Breath and maintain the stretch through the hamstring (muscles at the back of the thigh) for two minutes.
Swap sides – is likely to require a different doorway or moving to the other side of the doorway..
3. Low Lunge (knee on floor) (2 mins each side)
From a kneeling position, take a step forward with your right leg about a thigh’s length in front of you. Ensure your knee is over the ankle and not further forward than the ankle. Also ensure it is tracking in line with the toes and not falling in or out to the side to ensure knee safety.
You should feel a stretch at the front of the hip (into the hip flexor and psoas muscles) on the left side. If you don’t feel it, you may need to move the right foot further forward.
Hold for two minutes before returning to the kneeling position and then swapping sides.
4. Sphinx - you may require some padding or a blanket under your hip bones.
Lie on your belly face down flat on the floor. Bring the upper body up and rest on to your forearms, with your elbows directly under your shoulders and forearms flat along the mat, palms pressing down into the mat, fingers widely spread.
The aim is to extend the upper body away from the lower body, imagining a more forward than upward motion with the collar bones – sending the collar bones forward towards the front of the room. Keep pressing down through the forearms and hands.
Hold position for two minutes before turning the hands in towards each other and forming a pillow for you to release your head down onto to rest
5. Lying spinal twist (1 min each side)
Lying on your back on the mat, bring the feet flat onto the floor with the knees bent. Lift your bum from the floor and move it across the mat to the right side about 6 inches (12-15 cm)
Bring the knees tightly into the chest and then take the arms out into a T-shaped, palms facing down and pressing into the floor.
Allow the knees to stay close in to the chest but then to fall over to the left side, ensuring that as the knees come over towards the floor, the right shoulder remains flat on the floor. It doesn’t matter if the knees reach the floor, the important point is to feel a spinal twist. Depending on how close into the chest the knees are as they go over, this will determine the part of the spine that feels the twist. You can take the left hand from the floor and use it to press the top knee if that feels useful. Hold for one minute.
To come out, use the right hand to assist the right knee up and back to centre, followed by the left knee. Lift the hips and bring the bum back to the centre of the mat.
Repeat on the other side, starting by lifting the hips up and moving the bum over about 6 inches (12-15 cm) to the left side followed by stages (b) and (c) with left and right’s reversed.
Ok, so that adds up to 16 minutes but you need to end up even on each side!
In addition to moving around more and walking regularly, these yoga postures will make a really big difference.