Good Morning Yoga Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 7

Strengthen Your Back Body

30 min - Practice


Alana leads us through a floor practice to strengthen and stretch the back body as we move through such postures as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) and Salabhasana (Locust Pose).
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

About This Video

May 30, 2016
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So good morning, thank you for being here, if it's morning for you. In this practice we're going to work on, it'll be a floor practice so no vinyasa's or standing. We're going to work on strengthening the back body. So in particular we're going to work on bhujangasana and locus. So finding the stretch, the work, the strength in the back body.

If you've ever had or worked with sciatica, which can be like a sharp or dull tingling sensation down the back of the leg, this practice could help to really strengthen the back body and relieve some of the pinched nerve feeling in the back body. Let's give it a try. So join me first. Actually, we're going to start on our back so join me on your back. And we're going to start in windshield wipers, like we tend to do.

Soles of the feet wide and just begin to let the knees go side to side. So just nice and casual, beginning to draw your attention towards your breath and into your body. So often the mind can be, like spinning, or either jumped ahead in the future or we're in the past thinking about something that went down. So just begin to draw your attention towards your breath. Tuning into this sensation in the body.

A few more rounds, letting your knees go side to side. Notice what you chose to do with your head. Your head might move with your knees or away from your knees and usually this just kind of helps us get into our practice. Easing into it. Good, and then draw your knees into your chest.

Good. And then from here extend your legs, reach one arm over head, we're going to roll onto our belly. Come onto your belly, extend, reach your arms out, reach your legs out, bring your forehead towards the floor. Feet might be about hip distance apart. And then slide up into sphinx pose.

So bring your elbows in front of your shoulders. Spreading the fingers wide, pressing the tops of your feet into the floor, and then begin to work actively here by traction-ing your spine. So as if you're drawing your heart forward. And you're drawing the skin of your forearms towards your heart. So this gentle traction through the spine and then let your low back widen.

Press the tops of the feet towards the floor. Drawing your shoulders away from your ear, shoulder blades down the back. Taking a few breaths here. Oftentimes for me there can be, like, a dull achiness through the lower back. Kind of pooling of energy around the low back, the sacrum.

You might draw the chin towards the chest, let the head release a bit, stretching the back of the neck. You might stay right here, you might begin to press the hands into the floor and gently begin to straighten the arms, pressing up into a variation of seal pose. Maybe like you've seen in video or class. Just check in with your lower back. How does this feel?

You might choose to widen your legs a little bit here, again drawing your shoulder blades down your back. Inhale and exhale. Let's get out of there. Bring your forehead to the hands, elbows wide. Relax the effort in the back body and just notice how you feel.

Slide the palms underneath the shoulders, bring the elbows into the rib cage, and as you inhale, begin to lift up through the chest. Find that same action of traction-ing the heart forward, drawing the shoulder blades down the back, gazing towards the floor in cobra, bhujangasana. Back body is strong and drawing in towards your spine, inhale, lift, exhale, release. Press back onto all fours, find child's pose. Hips towards the heels, forehead towards the floor.

Breathing into the back body, nice full, wide back, low back, sacrum. Softening the jaw, the hips. Inhale, come back onto all fours, moving towards plank, spreading the fingers wide, drawing the shoulders down the back, tuck the toes, come into plank for a few breaths and pause here. Nice strong active through your legs. Inhale, exhale, press back to downward facing dog.

And in this first dog, walking it off a little bit. Lengthen the back of the neck. Connect in with your breath. Beautiful, one more inhale. Exhale.

Inhale, come back into plank pose, shoulders over the wrist, pause, lower the knees, press back, child's pose. Forehead towards the floor. And then slide the palms underneath the shoulders, chin into the chest, roll up to vajrasana. Take a moment to pause here. With our block, we're going to bring our block, this is pretty cool.

We're going to bring our block to the back of our mat narrow. So instead of wide apart, bring it narrow. And then slide onto your belly from here and we're going to find locus, salabhasana. So the idea is to press the tops of the feet into the floor and press the pinky side of the foot into the floor. Draw the front of the, draw the inner foot into the block.

Okay? And then reach the fingers towards the toes, forehead on the floor. Now spin the inner thighs up towards the sky. Yes. Spin the inner thighs up towards the sky, reach the fingers towards the toes.

Good, and then inhale, begin to lift the heart. Keep pressing the pinky toes into the floor as the inner part of the foot draws towards the block and lift. And then release. Lengthening the spine, inhale and lift. Reach the arms out to your side, draw the shoulder blades into the back and then begin to reach the fingers towards the toes, lifting the heart.

Feel that integrity through your legs pressing into the block as you lift. And then exhale, release. Take a moment to pause, bring the elbows wide, forehead rests on the hands, relax the effort through the legs, the back body. We'll do a few more rounds, as you're ready for it, on the floor. Reach the fingers towards the toes, palms into the body.

Active through your legs, pressing into the block. As you inhale, begin to lift up through the torso, the heart, the shoulder blades. Gazing towards the floor. Feel that work, that strength in the back body. Inhale, lift, exhale release.

And one more time, inhale and lift. Wide through the collar bones. Exhale, release. Slide the palms underneath you under the shoulders, press up onto all fours, press back, child's pose. And then slowly roll up.

Your block might be right there to sit on. Let's try it without the block. Bring your block off to the side and then come onto your belly. So the idea is to remember the feeling of the block between the inner thighs. Remember that quality of support, that integrity.

Take a moment to lengthen your spine, bring your forehead towards the floor. Remember the pinky toes pressing into the floor, and then inhale, begin to lift up through the heart, front of the spine lifts, reaching the fingers towards the toes palms in. You might stay here with the feet on the floor or begin to lift your legs up. Remember that inner spiral, spiraling the inner thighs up towards the sky as you lift. Exhale and release.

Nice work. Let's find that one more time. As you're ready, active through your legs and your feet, inhale and lift. Again, reach the fingers towards your toes, you might keep the hands here or begin to reach the arms out to the side. Perhaps even over the top of the head and you might play with bending the knees and reaching, lengthening.

Inhale, exhale, gently release. Again, bring the elbows wide, forehead rests on your hands. Bend your knees, reverse windshield wiper side to side. And then release the feet to the floor. Reach the right arm out, we're going to roll onto our right side.

And find lounging buddha. So you might bring and prop your right hand underneath your head, that might feel nice. Or bring your head towards your arm. Just take a moment here, it's a bit of a balance play. You might find some engagement through your core.

And then reach your left arm up toward the sky, finding internal and the external rotation. I'm exploring that rotation from the shoulder joint. Once you find that internal rotation, bring the back of the hand to either your sacrum or you might nuzzle it up between your shoulder blades. From here, bend the top leg and then roll onto your back. As if your pinning your arm underneath you.

And then, if appropriate, you might bend both knees. Even out your pelvis. You might keep the right arm overhead or bring the hand to the heart. Taking a few breaths here, opening the shoulder. And drawing your awareness towards your breath and resting in this moment.

Release the top arm, roll back onto your side, lounging buddha. Release the arm, shake it out. Good, and then roll onto your belly, we'll switch sides. Take a moment to pause here on this side. And then balancing.

And then find this pose is great, I love this pose. See if you can find some ease within the effort of balancing. Again, your hand might be resting on your arm or you might prop your head up. Nice, from here release the top arm up towards the sky and explore the internal and external rotation. So you're moving from your shoulder joint.

Just exploring the range of movement there. As you come into the internal rotation, again, bring the back of your hand to rest on your sacrum, your lower back, or you might choose to nuzzle it up your back between your shoulder blades. And then drawing the elbow into the body. Bend the top leg and then roll onto your back. You might stay right here or you might bring both feet to the floor with the knees bent.

Drawing the shoulder towards the floor. That top hand might rest around the heart or on the belly. And then breathing into where you feel any sensation. Softening the jaw, the eyes. I know, for me, this shoulder feels a bit more sticky and tight than the other.

So you might notice for you, sensation on this side verses the other. Making any fine tune adjustments. Nice, extend the top arm, roll back into lounging buddha on your side. Free the top arm, shake it out. We're going to roll onto our back from here.

Draw your knees into your chest and have your block nearby. Draw your knees into your chest, let yourself rock a little bit from side to side. And then we'll setup for bridge pose with the block. So taking a few moments to spread the toes, ground through your feet. We'll take this first round without the block.

Allow for an inhale and as you exhale, curl the tailbone under, press down through your feet, lift your pelvis. And then let the frontline lengthen, draw the inner thighs towards each other, just like in salabhasana. Draw the inner thighs towards each other as you narrow your hip points. Back of the neck is long and then reaching your hands towards your ankles. Relax any grip through the butt.

So soften that effort. You can feel the work more though the bones and the muscles. Like, hugging into the bones. Spacious through the eyes, hands might reach towards your ankles or you might choose to roll and tuck the shoulder under. And they might interlace or bridge.

Set to bandhasana breathing. When you're ready to release, come high up onto the balls of your feet, stretch your arms up towards the sky, get rough through your upper back, use your abdominals to lower you down. One vertebrae at a time and then finally release the sacrum, the hips. Take a moment to pause here, inhale. Exhale.

Again, breathing in. And exhale. And as you're ready, curl the tailbone under, press down through the feet, lift the hips. Now with your block nearby, you might bring the block into supported bridge at the lowest setting. Actually, let's do that together to just kind of settle and receive the support.

You might stay right here. you might begin to press down and come to the second setting. So just taking it one step at a time. And I like to bring my block length wise so it's supporting the full part of the sacrum. And notice here the opportunity to tuck the shoulders under and really find that length through the front of the body.

Through the collar bones. Again, you might stay right where you are, you might press down, lift and come to the highest setting of your block. And then readjust. You might bring your heels in slightly closer, you might tuck shoulders under the back of it more. Perhaps the fingers are right there interlacing or you're reaching towards your ankles.

Breathing. And really, here, with the support underneath you, stay active through your legs. So if you have a tendency to kind of let the legs go out and collapse, bring some attention towards drawing the inner thighs towards each other, grounding through all four corners of your feet, and then lengthening the front body. Spacious in your eyes, the neck is long. You might stay here all day long when you feel ready, and I'm ready now, press down through your feet, lift your hips.

And let's remove the block out to the side, carefully. And then come high up onto the balls of the feet again and then slowly come down using the abdominals to lower you down. And then releasing the sacrum. Allow for an inhale, exhale. Bring the soles of the feet wide, let the knees rest together, hands might rest on the belly here.

Eyes soft. You might stay right here, you might find a baddha konasana bringing the soles of the feet together and ease wide. And you might keep your hands where they are on the belly or along your sides. It might feel nice to reach the arms overhead and find the elbows as you wiggle and lengthen the rib cage away from the pelvis. The back of the neck lengthens, and then draw the navel towards the spine.

Relieving any compression through the lower back. The tailbone is reaching towards your heels. And your face is relaxed. The last few moments, if you're in baddha konasana, letting the knees get heavy towards the floor. Opening through the hips, the pelvis.

Nice, when you're ready slowly draw the knees towards each other, given them a hug. And then, bring your strap around the bottom of your right foot. We'll just spend a few moments, especially because of all the work in the back, extending the right leg up towards the sky. And you might keep your left foot grounded on the floor to support your lower back, or extend your left leg and flex the foot. Just take a few moments here softening the grip through the eyes.

Back of the heart and hands. Flexing the foot, reaching through your heel. Can you feel the extension from the core? From the belly up through the bottom of the foot and the bottom of the foot extending up into the strap. You might stay here or you might begin to engage the belly and curl up, bring the forehead towards the shin.

And then slowly releasing. Remove the strap, flex the foot, stabilize the core and the hips as you slowly extend, reaching through your right heel. Good, relax the effort, shake the legs out, take a moment to pause and notice, observe. Allow for an inhale. Exhale everything.

Wow, that was a lot of everything. Good, bend the knees. Draw the left knee in. Bring the strap around the bottom of the foot and extend the leg up. Now you might keep the right foot grounded on the floor, again, to support your lower back.

You might choose to extend and flex the foot, letting your right thigh bone descend towards the floor. Long through the back of your body. Again, softening the shoulders towards the floor, flexing the foot and feel that extension all the way up into the bottom of the strap. Beautiful breathing. Breathing into where you feel any sensation.

You might stay here or you might begin to curl up, draw the chin towards the chest, forehead towards your shin, curl up. And then slowly extend and release. Keep the left foot extended, remove the strap. Flex the foot, stabilize your core and your hips as you slowly extend and reach through your left heel. Very nice, and then relax the effort.

Again, palms up, check in. Good, we're almost there. Bring the legs to touch, point the toes, draw the navel towards the spine, draw the chin towards the heart and then bring the palms in towards the body. Lengthen the back body, so put some effort into it as if you were standing in tadasana, pointing your toes. From here, extending your legs up towards the sky.

You might take, you might pause right here, taking a few breaths with the legs. If appropriate for your neck in this moment, you might begin to move towards halasana, plow pose. Pressing down through the arms and then bringing your legs up out and over. And if it's available, pointing the toes. The hands might press into the floor, you might choose to interlace through the fingers, drawing the shoulders under the back, spacious through your throat, easy with your breath.

When you're ready to release, slow. Gaze up towards your toes, gently towards, towards. And then engage your abdominals. Slowly begin to lower. Feeling each part of your back.

Ah, release. And then from here, bend the knees. Again, you might curl up, forehead towards your knees. And then release. Extending your legs from here.

Taking a shavasana. In shavasana, the invitation is to be receptive to what is. As always, you're welcome to stay here as long as you desire, as long as you like. If and when you feel a stirring, slowly draw your knees back in and roll to your side. Linger in this feeling tone, this quality, as long as possible.

Make your transition, or allow your transition to be easy and gentle. Pressing your hands into the floor, when you're ready. Coming into a seat. Taking a few moment to settle. Feeling the length in your spine, shoulder blades soften down the back, wide through the base of your skull.

Feeling that support in the back body to help encourage a lift through the chest, through the heart, spacious in the throat. Joining the hands together, we'll close with an oom clearing breath. Deep inhale. Exhale. Breathing in.

(humming) Namaste. Thank you for your practice, namaste.


Simon ?
1 person likes this.
Perfection in simplicity!
Frederic M
1 person likes this.
I loved the parallel between Shalambasana and bridge pose! Thank you Alana!
Tesa Urbonaite Dunn
Wonderful practice! Great for tight shoulders! Thank you Alana!
1 person likes this.
I love this practice, thank you, Alana. It provides such an essential counterbalance to the abundance in our lives of focus on the front body. Adding to favorites. :)
1 person likes this.
I love the focus on backbends in this series. I felt a wonderful strength and spaciousness across my lower back when starting out in Sphinx, and this was sustained in cobra, locust and bridge. I think I love back bending!
1 person likes this.
Beautiful relaxing practice. Thank you so much 🙏🏻
Sandra Židan
Thank you very much for this beautiful practice, Alana! Kind regards!
Alana Mitnick
Thank you, Guillaume, for joining me! Your comment slipped pass me. Hope you are well and enjoying your Yoga practice. Warmly, Alana 
Alana Mitnick
Sandra! You're so welcome! I love this back body strengthening routine. So delighted to be practicing together. Warmly, Alana 
Bri Fink
Alana, this was pure magic. As someone who struggles with back and shoulder pain this was exactly what I needed. I will be coming back to this practice plenty of times when I need a good back stretch. Thank you. Namaste. Alana Mitnick 

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