The Happy Back Show Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 8

Gentle Middle Back Relief

25 min - Practice


Arturo shares a gentle practice designed to relieve tension and create more mobility in the middle back. Moving with our breath, we begin in a chair with some easy gentle movements to target the mid to upper lumbar spine. We then come down to the floor for some strengthening work, followed by a restorative Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose). The practice results in feeling more refreshed, calm, and relaxed.
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair, Square Bolster (2), Blanket (3)

About This Video

Oct 15, 2016
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(waves crashing) Hi, and welcome. Today we're going to do a practice for the mid back. And during this practice we'll be working with the breath a lot and really following the rhythmic movement of your breath. Following the breath with physical movement of the body. So, we're gonna start off seated and scoot yourself a little forward in your seat.

Little bit towards the edge. And bring your hands to your knees. Your palms to your knees. We're gonna start off with the seated cat cow. So as you start your next inhale, inhale the heart up, start to arch the low back a little feeling of sticking the booty out behind you.

And lift and open the heart in front. Then as you exhale, engage the abs, start to tuck the tailbone, keep the palms glued to the knees, and feel the back of the heart get stretched here between the shoulder blades. As you inhale, tipping the tailbone, arching the low back, lifting the heart, keeping the neck long, as you exhale, tucking the tailbone, rounding the spine to the space behind you. On the inhale, starting to arch the back, lift the heart, opening the front of the heart. As you exhale, leaning into the support of the arms, opening the back of the heart, between your shoulder blades.

A few more times. Arching, lengthening up, as you inhale. Ah... tucking the tailbone, engaging the abs, rounding as you exhale. And just go as small or as large as feels really good for your body. Keep an eye on the quality of your breath.

So that your breath moves smoothly, in and (deep breath) out... And your breath is basically the metronome for your movement. It takes the full length of your inhale to lengthen as far up as feels good. The full length of your exhale, to round back, next inhale. Lengthen up, just up sitting tall, and exhale, relax at center.

(Deep breath) Take a pause at center. Then the next movement, we're gonna take the ribcage, and take it around in circles. So you can keep your hands on your knees, but shift your ribcage over to your right. And then take it forward. And then shift it over to your left.

And then take it back. So the ribcage is moving around in a circle. And it can be helpful to put your hands on your low ribs for a few times just to bring more awareness into the movement of your ribcage. And again, this movement can be done really tiny, especially if your mid back is actively or sharply painful. Or you can do it pretty big.

Or anywhere in between. And one more time, one more lap around. And come to the front and center, and reverse. Shifting the ribs the other direction. Circling around, and back...

(deep breaths) You can tune into your sacrum, especially your tailbone as you do this, you can notice that your tailbone is drawing a circle at the same time that your ribs are drawing a circle. Except it's the opposite circle. If that feels too confusing to pay attention to both, that's okay. It's a little like trying to pat your belly and rub your head. Although, I'll be quiet now.

(deep breath) A few more circles around. (Sighs, deep breath out) And then coming back to the center, take a pause at center, sitting up tall. And then walk your feet out a little wider. You can go as wide as feels comfortable here. Gonna keep the hands on the knees, inhale, lengthen up, sitting up really tall, and as you exhale, press into the right hand, turn your shoulders to the left, the left elbow is gonna bend, twisting.

Then inhale your way back to center, and as you exhale, pressing into the left hand, and on the knee, right elbow bends. Shoulders twist to the right. Inhale back to center. As you exhale, pressing into the right hand, turning the shoulders to the left, bending left elbow. Inhale to center, as you exhale, going to the other side.

And following the rhythm of your breath. Your breath might move a little slower than mine, or a little faster than mine. Just taking the full length of each inhale to come back to center. The full length of your exhale to take you to towards a twist. (deep breaths) And your movement may be smaller.

Just wanna get the middle back moving, the ribs moving, the bones of the ribs are quite flexible. You don't always take advantage of that flexibility of our bones. One more time on each side. (deep breaths) And inhale your way back to the center. Take a pause at center, you can heel, toe your feet back in.

Just rest here, for a few breaths. (heavy, deep breathing) Good, next we're gonna come down to all fours. For this next part, you'll want to have a bolster, and at least two blankets, three if you have them. And let's come down to the ground. I'm gonna show a way to use the chair to come down.

It can be really helpful to use the chair, especially if you're having pain or discomfort. You can turn to one side, and slide off the chair, setting the knee down. And bringing the hand down. And sliding your foot back. Gonna slide the chair out of the way.

And come to all fours. If you're not comfortable being on your wrists, you can come on to a closed fist, or you can slide your bolster in, and come on to your forearms, if your wrists are uncomfortable with this. So getting the hands right underneath the shoulders, the knees right underneath the hips. You want to imagine that your head is getting pulled long, so your neck is long, and you're facing straight down towards the mat. And your tailbone is getting lengthened down.

So you're actually gonna be engaging your core muscles just a little bit. From here, inhale, as you exhale, slide your left foot back, and tuck the toes, touching the left toes to the mat. Left knee is straight. And then, continue breathing and walk the right fingertips forward. So the fingertips are resting on the mat.

You're mostly balancing on the left hand and right knee. And you can stay here if this feels good. (deep breath) If you're feeling like you want a little bit more of a challenge, you can float the hand and the foot up, a few inches. Or the highest they would come, is the same height as your shoulder and hip. But I feel like hanging out here today.

Gonna stay here for about five breaths total. (deep breathing) On your next inhale, get a little more length through the arm and through the leg. And as you exhale, sliding the right hand back in, bringing the left knee back in. And shake out the weight, shake out the hips a little bit. Bringing the pelvis back to center.

Inhale, as we exhale, we're gonna shift and slide the right leg back, toes touching, and then the left fingertips forward, fingertips touching. You can stay here, you can start to float a little bit. Or a lot a bit. It's whichever one feels best for you. The abs are engaged, helping to keep stability while you're balanced on your right hand and left knee, and we're still breathing.

(deep breaths) One more inhale, a little more length though the arm and leg. As you exhale, sliding the left hand in, bringing the right knee in. (deep breath) From here we're gonna come to sit side saddle. And set up our props, for a little bit of restorative yoga. I'm gonna take the bolster lengthwise, the back end of the mat.

And take one of my blankets to the back end of the bolster. This is gonna be my head pillow. The other two bolsters, we're gonna roll them up... This is a blanket. The other two blankets.

We're gonna roll them up, one on each side. And you want these two especially to be about the same height. And I'm gonna turn around. Let's have you turn around and sit on the end of your bolster. So you have a little elevation underneath your booty.

And bring the soles of the feet together, not in close, slide them forward a bit. And then side these rolls under the outer ankle especially. Slide them in close enough that you can relax your legs into the blankets. If your legs are up higher, you can just fold these rolls up thicker so that they fit underneath your thighs. Just so you feel the support.

And you can relax into it. Sitting up tall, we're gonna do that same cat cow movement. Inhaling, arching, lengthening up, getting tall, except this time as we exhale, we're gonna roll forward a little bit, rounding the spine. Let the chin drop towards your chest, like the back, round. Some of you may be resting your forehead on your feet.

Some of us are gonna stay up higher than that, resting the hands or the elbows on the legs, letting the weight of the head drop forward. As your head comes forward, you'll probably feel this stretch in the mid back, as you lengthen through the muscles that lift your head and neck. And take some breaths into the areas where you feel the stretch in the back of your body. Some breaths into the space behind your heart. Some breaths into the base of the skull, you might be feeling some tension here at the base of the skull as your chin drops forward.

A few more breaths here. We'll stay here for about ten breaths total. (deep breathing) Melting into this shape. You notice I'm not trying to pull myself forward, I'm just relaxing here, resting my weight on my forearms and my elbows. The goal isn't to bring my head to my feet.

I'm more having the intention of bringing some space into the backside of my body. Bringing my breath into the back of my heart. (deep sigh) On your next big inhale, you can start to slowly roll up your spine, walking the hands up and slowly pressing, rolling up with your mid back, your upper back, your neck, head... ahhh. And we're just gonna shift the booty forward off the bolster so you're sitting right in front of the bolster. The feet can come in a little closer this time, and bring the leg supports in under the outer thighs, and outer ankles.

Make sure this is centered on your back. Use your hands here. You can use your hands on the ground. Use your abs here, and slowly roll your way back. So when you come back, adjust your head and neck pillow.

I like to make a tiny roll underneath the neck. Feel into your low back. If your low back is feeling pinchy, compressed, then try lifting your hips a little bit, tuck your tailbone forward to make more space in the low back, and then set your hips back down. The leg rolls in close enough, that you can feel you inner thighs relaxing. And then find the position for your arms.

It may be down by your legs, or straight out from the shoulders, or somewhere in between, that feels really great. When you find your position, then take a few breaths into the upper chest. Expanding the heart space with your inhale, and letting the ribcage release and relax as you exhale. Expanding the ribs on your inhale. And relaxing, releasing on your exhale.

The next few breaths, take down into the low belly. So as you inhale, your belly expands like Buddha. And you may feel your low back expanding and pressing into the bolster. And as you exhale, the belly comes back down towards your spine. And back towards the earth.

Belly inhales, and exhale. (deep breath) And after your next exhale, let go of any effort with your breath. Let the weight of your head be heavy. Face and jaw soft. The hands and arms relaxed.

Your whole spine back in ribs, just draped across the bolster. Hips, heavy and soft. The legs resting into the support of the rolled blankets. And just rest. Just rest...

Letting go of any effort with the breath. The breath just flowing in and out, across your body and mind. At its own natural rhythm. And start to deepen the breath again. And bring some of that energy of the breath out into the fingers and toes.

(deep breath) Waking up the hands. Slide your arms down, the hands down to the outer thighs, and use your hands to help bring your knees towards each other, feet flat on the floor. And then slide the leg rolls out to the side a little bit. You're up high on the bolster, so as you come off, onto your side, lower yourself down, off the bolster. Bring your head pillow with you, and you can slide the blanket in between your knees.

And rest on your side. Your knees drawn up towards your chest. Gonna take a sideline, final relaxation here. Breathing into the low back, we were just in a backbend for a good, long time. So we wanna bring the spine back to neutral before coming up.

Breathing into the low belly, to massage your low back from the inside. And you're welcome to take your final relaxation here for 10 minutes, 15 minutes. Or if you're ready to come up, you can bring your hand down in front of you. Let your head stay heavy as you roll forward, and press your hands so you roll up your spine. Coming to find a comfortable, seated position.

(deep breath) I hope your mid back is feeling happier. Thank you, Namaste.


Thank you so much, Arturo. Doing some long sessions at my desk, and this not only alleviated the aching in my mid back but I felt soothed by your friendly take-it-easy instructions. It was only a 25-minute break, but I am revived 🙏🏻
Thanks, Arthuro! You've made my middle back feel happy with this relaxing practice! Namaste! 🥰

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