5-Minute Yoga for Every Body: Yoga for the Upper Back
You can do it!
Yoga isn't just about stretching and flexibility. And it's not just about strength and balance. Sure, those are important components, but they aren't the only focus, and they shouldn't be the main focus of a yoga practice.
The most important aspect of yoga, in fact the essence of yoga, is the breath. Breathing deeply is the most important part of yoga, and if you are breathing deeply, then you are doing yoga.
The next most important part of yoga is to feel something. We focus on breath and sensation. Get connected to how you are feeling. Where do you feel the stretch? Does it feel good or uncomfortable?
Before you begin, remember that yoga should never hurt. If something hurts, back out of the pose until you feel a gentle stretch.
There is no such thing as a perfect pose. The perfect pose is the one that works for where you are today.
Yoga for the Upper Back
- Stand or sit comfortably. Gently lower the right ear toward the right shoulder. Slowly bring the head forward and around, feeling the stretch across the back of the neck. When the left ear reaches the left shoulder, gently come back to center. Repeat three times, or as needed to loosen and stretch the neck and trapezius.
- Switching sides, lower the left ear to the left shoulder, and slowly roll the head forward, feeling the stretch down the side and back of the neck. When the right ear reaches the right shoulder, come slowly back to center. Moving slowly and gently, repeat three times.
- Inhaling deeply, bring the hands to the heart, then extend the arms overhead, reaching toward the sky, lengthening through the spine. Exhaling, gently bring the arms behind the back, as if you are holding a beachball. If you are able, you may clasp the hands and gently push them away from the body. Breathe deeply and feel the stretch across the front of the shoulders, in the deltoids. Lift the chest toward the sky while bringing the hands toward each other, breathe deeply and hold for several breaths. Release the hands.
- Bring hands to the sides. Raise the left arm in front of the body, and gently reach the arm across the body. Use the right arm as a lever to gently pull the left arm, and feel the stretch across the rear of the left shoulder, and into the upper back, through the rhomboids. If you'd like more stretch, raise both elbows slightly. Hold the stretch for several breaths, then gently release both arms to the sides.
- Raise the right arm in front of the body. Using the left arm as a lever, gently pull the right arm across the body, feeling the stretch in the deltoids and the rhomboids. Raise the elbows to deepen the stretch. Notice how the stretch feels through the shoulders and back, and adjust your pose to get the best stretch for your body today. Hold the stretch for several breaths, then gently release both arms to the sides.
- Inhaling deeply, reach both arms overhead, stretching upward, creating length in the spine. As you exhale, lower the right arm to the right side. On the next inhale, reach the left hand a little higher, as you press the left foot firmly into the floor. Exhaling, slide the right hand down the right leg, stretching through the left side of the body. Inhaling, lengthen through the left side, stretching the latissimus dorsi and the obliques. Exhaling, slide the right hand further down the right leg. Hold this stretch for several breaths. On the final inhale, come back to standing, bringing the right hand up the meet the left hand.
- Reaching overhead, inhale deeply. As you exhale, lower the left hand to the left side. On the next inhale, extend the right arm a little higher, as you press the right foot more firmly into the floor. As you exhale, slide the left hand down the left leg. Inhaling, reach through the right fingertips, lengthening through the right side of the body. Hold for several breaths and notice the stretch down the right side of the body. On the final inhale, come back to standing, raising the right arm to meet the left.
- Coming back to standing, bring hands to the sides for mountain pose, feeling strong, stable and grounded. Feet press into the floor. Arms are by the sides, shoulders down and back, away from the ears. Head is lifted. Breathe deeply.
5 Minutes for your Upper Back
I am a certified yoga instructor, massage therapist, and life coach. I want to help everyone achieve their best life, today. Using the tools I've learned in yoga, massage and life coaching, I want to help you improve your life from the inside out.
Yoga is an important component of a complete life, as it combines the essence of breath, movement and feeling. Practicing yoga daily will help with your peace of mind, as well as balance and flexibility.
As I get older, I realize that some things that I used to do are no longer comfortable, so I have adjusted my yoga practice to be realistic for every body type, regardless of age, size, fitness level or experience.
Join me on the journey, as we explore yoga and the benefits of breathing and feeling.
How do you Breathe?
Take a moment to notice your breathing. How do you breathe?
A regular yoga practice can be a great addition to any exercise regimen. Not only will you find your recovery time better, but you will be faster and stronger as a result of regular yoga.
In addition, flexibility and balance are leading indicators for healthy aging, As we get older, these are two aspects of our physical fitness that can rapidly decline. Lack of flexibility and balance can lead to falls, broken bones and overall poor health. A regular yoga practice can help improve your balance and flexibility, and your confidence as you grow older.
Finally, yoga emphasizes deep breathing. Deep breathing helps relax the body and reduces stress. A regular practice of deep, mindful breathing releases endorphins into the body, counteracting the negative effects of cortisone. When you breathe deeply, your bring the body out of "fight or flight" mode, and into "restore and relax" mode. In this calm place, the body feels safe and is able to function at a higher level.
And don't let the excuse, "I'm too stiff," to keep you from trying yoga. The point of doing yoga is to increase flexibility, not to begin by being flexible. You can start today, exactly where you are. Breathe deeply, tune in to how your body feels, and move slowly. You can do this. You can try yoga. It only takes five minutes!