Yoga for Your Upper Back Tightness

The upper back is the region between the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine) and is also called the thoracic spine. This is the most stable part of the spine and the range of motion in the upper back is limited due to its attachment to the ribs. Upper back tightness is usually due to the muscle tension caused by poor posture or looking downward for a long period of time. In our current lifestyle working on a computer for long hours of time or even spending more and more time on our mobile with a poor neck posture leads to tightness and tension in the muscles. To ensure good health of the upper back it is advised that one should include the below-mentioned stretching exercise regularly in their day-to-day practice.

Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) and Bitilasana (Cow Pose)

Cat and cow pose is a great warm-up to energize the spine and the upper back. This can be performed before your workouts or even during bedtime. This posture definitely helps you to improve the flexibility to get into some intense postures, strengthens and improves blood circulation to the spine and provides a great stretch to the hips, abdomen

How to do the posture?

  • Come to a tabletop posture with a neutral spine. Inhale and move into cow pose, lift your sit bones upward, press your chest forward, and allow your belly to sink.
  • Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and gaze to the ceiling
  • Exhale and move into cat pose while rounding your spine outward, tucking in your tailbone, and drawing your pubic bone forward.
  • Try to touch your chin to your chest and gaze at your belly.

Keep flowing between cat and cow for 8-10 rounds. The slower the flow the better.

Uttana Shishosana (Puppy Pose)

This is a backbend posture mainly to stretch the spine and open up the chest. The more the body arches the more the front body opens. This is also a great stretch to shoulders, arms, abdominals

How to do the posture?

  • From the child’s pose or tabletop, bring your knees together.
  • Walk your fingertips forward and bring your chest onto the mat.
  • Allow your hips to lift high up toward the ceiling, opening up the chest and bending the back.
  • Hold for 10-15 breaths and transition back to tabletop pose.

Repeat this 8-10 times

Parsva Balasana (Thread the needle pose)

This helps to twist the thoracic spine, releases tension from the neck, gently compresses the muscles of the upper chest and stretches the upper and outer muscles of the shoulder.

How to do the posture?

  • Begin in a neutral tabletop position with your hands and knees on your mat.
  • Exhale to reach your right arm under your left arm.
  • Lower your right shoulder and ear to the ground.
  • Keep equal weight in your knees, feet straight out behind you.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. Release back to table top, then repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat this for 4 to 6 times on each side

Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

This posture is also known as a heart-opening posture, as it provides a great stretch to the entire front part of the body. This is a great preparatory posture for advanced backbends. It also helps in strengthening the back and provides great stretch in hip flexors muscles

How to do the posture?

  • Come to your knees, with your legs hip-width apart. Keep your hips over your knees and squeeze your thighs toward each other.
  • Inhale, engage your lower belly, and reach your tailbone toward your knees.
  • On another inhalation, lift your sternum and draw your elbows back, toward each other behind you.  Allow your rib cage to expand.
  • Keep your chest raised, your core engaged, your spine long, your chin tucked and your shoulders back as you drop your hands toward your heels.
  • Press the heels of your hands into the heels of your feet, draping the fingers over the soles. Keep lifting through your sternum.
  • If you can’t reach the feet, you can bring both the palms to the lower back with fingers facing down and push it forward while leaning back
  • Head and neck to extend backward.  Gaze at the tip of your nose.
  • Stay in this pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • To exit, bring your chin to your chest and your hands to your hips with your thumbs on your sacrum. Engage your lower belly and use your hands to support your lower back as you come slowly back up to your knees.                     

Child pose variation hands behind the back to hands forward

Strengthens the upper back and neck muscles, and provides a great stretch to lat muscles. This is also is a great posture to relax and calm your mind

How to do the posture?

  • Come into child pose with hands straight in front of you.
  • Lift both your hands off the floor and stretch the hands forward
  • Roll your shoulders in, interlace fingers behind your back and pull the hands towards your buttocks, lift the head up
  • Again, bring both the hands in front but off the floor, forehead facing to the floor.
  • Repeat this for 8 to 10 times

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