Yoga for Back Pain Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Whole Body Go-To

30 min - Practice


This sequence will build strength, stability, and resilience in your spine, muscles, and joints and invigorate your entire body. We visit bridges, twists, squats, lunges, and lifting our block to leave you feeling open, focused, and energized.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Welcome, my name is Hattie Bluestone, and this whole body yoga sequence is designed to cultivate strength, stability, and resilience in your shoulders, your back, your hips, and your whole body. So begin, come down onto your back. So coming onto your yoga mat, drawing your knees in toward your belly, and place your hands behind the backs of your knees, so between the hamstrings and the calf muscles. From here, start to circle your knees apart from one another and back together. As you do this, taking a few deep breaths just to transition from your day into your yoga practice, letting go of any unnecessary tension or stress that your body might be holding.

From here, bring that circle to a close, and now start to open and close your knee joints. So straighten your legs up toward the sky, and then re-bend your knees. Just opening and closing a few times, feeling a gentle stretch on the backs of your legs, your hamstring muscles. And then next time your legs are straight, pause there and circle your ankles. So moving your feet in some gentle circles, we're warming up our hips, our knees, our ankles, change the direction of those circles.

Now draw your knees in toward your belly and take your arms out to the side like a T. So softening your shoulder blades and the backs of your hands to the earth, let your knees begin to rock from right to left. So feeling this as a gentle twist in your spine. Let's add in the breath. So inhale as you rock through the center. Exhaling, feel your knees go to the left, right shoulder stays heavy.

Inhale, rock across your back. Exhaling, knees go to the right and left shoulder stays heavy. Gentle twist. And inhale, rock across your back. Exhale, feeling a rotation of your spine.

Inhale, rolling across your back. Exhaling, feeling this gentle twist. From here, come back onto your back and set your feet down on the ground. So keeping your knees pointing toward the ceiling, reach your left arm up toward the sky and then across your body and actually touch your left hand to your right hand. Then reach your left arm back up and roll back to that starting position.

Now reach your right arm up toward the sky. Reach it across your body until your right palm matches your left palm. And then reaching back open. Inhale, sweep your left arm up, left hand to right hand. And then exhaling, rolling to your back.

Inhale, right arm up, right hand to left hand. Stretching your upper back and then exhale. Keep your head just heavy here. Inhale, left arm up, left hand to right hand. Exhaling, open.

Inhale, right arm up, right hand to left hand. And exhale, open. Great. From there, rolling to your side, grab hold of one yoga block and we're going to start to warm up our abdominal muscles. Take your legs up to tabletop position so your knees are over your hips and your shins are parallel to the ground.

Take the block between the palms of your hands and reach it up toward the ceiling. From there, flatten your low back into the earth and try to keep your low back glued to the ground the whole time. As you inhale, sweep your arms alongside your ears, reaching your block back. As you exhale, we're going to sit up, so rounding your spine, sitting up and actually setting the block down on top of your shins. From there, reach your fingertips forward, take an inhale.

Exhale, grab hold of the block, slowly roll down. Inhale, arms are alongside your ears, reach the block back, press your low back into the earth. Exhale, sitting up, rounding your spine, setting the block down on your shins. Reach your fingertips forward, this time keeping your low back glued into the earth. Inhale and reach that block forward just a little bit.

As you exhale, draw the block back toward you, grab hold of it with your hands, rolling down. Inhale, stretch your arms alongside your ears. Exhale, sitting up, setting the block down on your shins, balancing it there. Inhale, you can start to straighten your legs out, but keep your low back completely glued to the earth. Exhale, draw the block back toward you and grab hold of it with your hands.

Inhale, reaching your arms back alongside your ears. Exhale, sitting up, feeling your abdominal muscles starting to warm up. Reach your fingertips forward, inhale, extending your legs toward or too straight, low back completely glued to the mat. Drawing the legs back in, grab hold of your block. Inhale, reaching the block back, arms alongside your ears.

Exhaling, sitting up and setting the block down one last time. Reach your fingertips forward, inhale, send that block forward away from you, legs move toward straight, low back stays in contact with the ground. And as you exhale, slowly draw the block back in, grab hold of it, inhale, rolling down. Nice job. Set one foot and then the other on the ground.

Now we'll need two blocks. So taking two blocks and setting them up where they'll be underneath your feet for a bridge pose. So on their lowest height, setting one foot on top of each block. Later about hips distance apart. From there, we'll come into bridge pose.

So breathing in, press your feet straight down into the block. Your knees go straight forward, lifting your pelvis into the air. And as you exhale, slowly release, bringing your hips back to the earth. Just like that. Inhale, press your feet down, lift your hips up, exhale, slowly release.

The blocks are there to add a greater range of motion, inhale, press your feet down, hips go up, feeling your glutes and hamstrings strengthening, exhale, steady, lower of your pelvis to the earth. We'll do two more, inhale, press the floor away with your feet to lift your hips up. Exhale, with control, bring your hips back down. Good, last one, inhale, press your feet into the blocks. Lift your hips up.

And as you exhale, slowly lower down. We'll hold on this last round. So pressing your feet down, holding, feeling your strength in bridge pose, tuning into your breathing for three cycles of breath, inhale, and exhale. Bring the strength on the backs of your legs, inhale, and exhale, softening your eyes and your jaw. One more breath, inhale, and exhale, slowly lower all the way down.

Nice job. Rolling to the side of your body, we're going to come up for cat and cow. So coming to hands and knees, spreading your fingers apart so you see a triangle of mat between each of your fingers. And then as you breathe in, draw your heart forward and lift your sitting bones up. And as you exhale, round your spine.

Inhale, heart draws forward, sitting bones lift up. This is cow pose. And then exhale, cat pose. Move to the pace of your own breath, inhale. And exhale.

Breathing in, this is a back bend, stretching your belly and your chest. And then exhaling, stretching your low back, mid back, upper back. One more like this. And from here, come on to your fists instead of your hands. If this is a new movement for you, feel welcome to stay right here to make it a little bit harder.

You can walk your knees back a little bit. We're all going to inhale and gently squeeze our shoulder blades together. And as we exhale, push down into the fist and spread your shoulder blades wide apart. Inhale, with control, glide your two shoulder blades together. Exhale, push down into your fists and broaden your upper back, spreading your shoulder blades apart.

Inhale, slowly glide your shoulder blades together. Exhale, punch your fists down into the earth and spread them apart. One more, inhale. And exhale. From there, if your knees were back, bring them back under your hips and everyone comes to your hands.

Extend your right leg back with your right toes touching the earth. And then find your opposite hand, your left hand. As you breathe in, send your left arm forward and up toward the sky, opening your chest to the left. As you exhale, reach the hand toward the back of your mat and then down toward the floor. So we breathe in and send the arm forward and up.

And exhale, reaching it back, back, back, and around. And inhale, arm goes forward and up. Push your right hand into the earth, lift out of that shoulder, exhaling back and around. It's two more times. Seeing if you can find the part of this movement that you enjoy most and bring your attention there.

Inhale, arm goes forward and up, exhaling back and around. We'll switch sides. So extend your left leg back and find your right hand. Inhale your right arm forward and up, turning your heart to the right. And then exhale, reaching back and down, drawing a big circle with the right arm, inhale, turning your spine, turning your hips even, exhaling around.

Three more, like a moving meditation. So feeling the movement from the inside, having a sense of yourself in the space where you are, breathing in and breathing out. Last one, finding any joyful part of this movement and bringing your attention there. From here, come to hands and knees and for downward facing dog, tuck your toes under, reach your hips up and back. We'll settle in and down dog for a couple of resting breaths.

From downward facing dog, step your feet forward to the top of your mat and come into a hanging forward fold. So a little bend in your knees, letting your spine drape down, feeling a sense of ease in your shoulders, your hands, your neck and head. And then from there, grabbing your two blocks again, so we'll have one block underneath each hand and stepping your left leg back into a runner's lunge. As you breathe in, lift your chest up and as you breathe out, press the earth away with your right foot in order to straighten that leg. Breathing in, bend your front knee and breathing out, straighten, creating some mobility in our hips.

Inhale, knee bend, exhale, straighten. For low lunge, bend your front knee and also bring your back knee down to the ground and then reach your arms up toward the sky. Tuck your pelvis under like cat pose and inhale, stretch your fingertips up. As you exhale, pull your arms down, bending your elbows and drawing them in toward the sides of your ribcage. Inhale, glide your arms up toward the sky, exhale, pull the arms down, feeling the strength in your upper back.

Inhale, glide your arms up and exhale, pull down. Two more like that, inhale, lengthening your arms up, exhale, feeling your shoulder blades descend on the back. Inhale, arms lengthen up, maybe lift your gaze here, exhale, pulling down. This time inhale, reach your arms up and as you exhale, take your hands down to your blocks. We're going to switch sides, so step your left foot forward and your right foot back.

As you inhale, have your front knee bent and lift your chest and then as you exhale, start to straighten your front leg. Inhale, bending the front knee, looking forward, exhale, push the earth away with your left foot in order to straighten the leg. One more time, inhale, knee bent and exhale, straight. Coming into low lunge by bending the front knee and also bringing your back knee down to the ground. This time come upright and reach your arms forward parallel to the earth.

Tuck your pelvis under and like you're rowing a boat, inhale and reach your fingertips forward and as you exhale, pull your arms back with strength, squeezing your shoulder blades together. So inhale, glide the arms forward and exhale, rowing the arms back. Three more, inhale, feel your shoulder blades spread apart and now exhale, feel them squeeze together. Two more, inhale and exhale. Next one, inhale, rowing your arms back, exhaling.

From here, take your hands down to the blocks, step forward and then we'll move the blocks aside. Coming into a standing forward fold at the top of your mat, letting your upper body drape down and taking a resting breath in through your nose, out through your mouth. From this forward fold, start to roll up toward a standing position, taking a big shoulder roll. Set your blocks on their highest height and we'll come into some full body movements. So with your feet hips distance apart, press down into your left foot and take your right foot back.

You're in the tippy toes of your back foot or on the ball of that foot. Take your right arm forward, this is as if you're running. We're going to inhale right here with a bend in that left knee and then exhale, straighten your left leg as you step forward. Inhale, slow bend of your left knee, step back and then exhale, switching your arms as you step forward, as if you're running in slow motion. Inhale, bending the front knee, step back, exhale, press yourself forward and up.

You can stay right here or as your balance improves, you might start to step back a little bit further, breathing in and then power yourself forward and up. Inhale, your front knee is bending during the transition. Try to go slow during that transition. Exhale forward and up, pushing your left foot into the ground. Continuing to the pace of your own breath, we're building stability around that left knee and hip and ankle, exhale forward and up.

And then the last version, if you need this to be even harder, you're going to inhale step forward, step back and exhale, step forward and up, drawing the right knee in and balancing. Let's do two more, inhale, stepping back into a lunge, exhale, stepping forward and uplifting your chest, lifting your gaze, inhale, slowly stepping back and exhale, step forward and up. Nice job. We'll try that on the second side. So our right foot is our base, left foot steps back just onto the ball of that foot and this time your left arm is forward to begin with.

We're going to be moving the arms like we're running. Inhale here, exhale, push into your right foot and step your toes forward. Your right knee will bend as you step back, inhale, exhale, step forward and up. So moving to the pace of your own breath, this is one of my favorite physical therapy exercises, exhale, stepping forward and up. So it's mimicking walking or running in slow motion.

The right knee bends, inhale, exhale, stepping forward and up. So moving to the pace of your own breath and also finding the level of challenge that feels right for you. Harder is going to be a step back further, exhale, stepping forward and up. And harder could also be finding a balance. So you're inhaling, stepping back and exhaling, pulling the left knee in toward your chest and standing tall.

Let's do three more, slowly stepping back, breathing in, exhale, moving forward and up. Your core is also working hard here to stabilize your spine, inhale, exhaling forward and up. And one last time, really pushing your right foot into the ground, inhale, push down through the right foot to step forward and up. Nice, step both feet onto the ground and take a little break here, shaking out your hips. Just a couple last challenging things for our whole body.

Left foot is going to be our base. Right tip toes go back. This movement is like being a seesaw, so you're going to inhale here, slowly tipping forward into a warrior three position. Bring your fingertips to tap the blocks and then exhale, tip back up. That's the whole thing.

So inhale, warrior three, it's a capital T shape with your body, exhaling, lifting back up and breathing in, tilting forward. Your whole body is like one long line from your toes through your head, exhale, lifting back up. This is just to strengthen your left hip and glute, so you're inhaling, gliding forward and then push your left foot down into the ground in order to stand back up. Two more, slowly gliding yourself forward, exhale, push your left foot into the ground to stand up like a plank in motion. Feel the strength of your belly and your back, exhaling, standing up.

Second side, right foot is our base, left hip toes back behind us. And again, finding like a seesaw, one line from the crown of your head through those back tippy toes. As you inhale, slowly tilt forward, fingertips come to tap the blocks. And as you exhale, slowly come back up. Breathing in and tilting forward, fingertips tap the block and then exhale, press your right foot into the ground to stand back up.

Like a seesaw, inhale, tilting forward and exhaling back up. Feel the strength around your right glute and hamstring, inhaling, exhaling, takes a little bit of courage to try something new. So being gentle with yourself here, inhale, tipping forward, exhaling, tipping back up. We'll do one more, inhale, warrior three, and exhale, standing up. Great, with two feet on the ground, take one of your blocks and come to facing the long edge of your yoga mat.

Your feet are about hips distance apart. From here, take the block in your hands, bend both of your knees, and tap the block to the ground on the right side of your body. From there, stand up and twist your left, look up and turn, lifting the block. We'll inhale as we come into a squat, tapping the block down, your hips sit back, lift and spread your toes, exhale, turn and lift. So moving to the pace of your own breath, inhale, bending your knees, tapping the block to the ground, exhale, lift and twist.

So bending, lifting and twisting are all great things to really practice with our body so that our back becomes more resilient. So inhaling, you're bending here, exhaling, you're lifting and twisting, and all of this builds resilience in our spine. A few more, inhaling down, exhaling up, and last one, inhale, and exhale. Good, from there, let's go to the second side. So block is still in your hands, as you breathe in, come into a squat, so that means your hips sit back, your toes might lift, tapping the block to the ground on the outside of that left foot, exhale, lifting and twisting to your right, inhale, slowly sitting your hips back, tapping the ground with the block, exhaling up.

If the ground feels really far away, just put the block on its highest height so you can tap down just like this, inhale, exhale, lift and twist. Moving to the pace of your own breath, inhaling down, exhaling up. So I often hear from students that they feel like they got injured while bending or lifting and twisting, and that's actually why we're doing this, we're making our back more resilient so we can do those movements without getting injured. So it's something that's familiar to our back, a place where we have some strength. Let's do one more, so inhale, sitting low, and then exhale, twisting and lifting, feeling your resilience, your strength, and slowly release.

Let's come into downward facing dog. From downward facing dog, bring your knees down to the mat, coming to hands and knees. Push down into your knees and notice if that helps you feel the activation in your belly muscles. And then we're going to open and close our left knee, so as you breathe in, open that left knee to the left, and as you exhale, slowly bring the knee back down. Inhale and open the knee.

It's okay if your belly button turns a little bit, if your pelvis tilts, and as you exhale, come back down. So you're reaching your knees actually as far apart from one another as possible, and then exhaling. As you do this, see if you can hug your outer right hip in toward the midline of the body, and if you need this to be harder, you could lift your right hand off of the ground. Inhaling open, and exhaling closed. Let's do just two more here, inhale.

This is for our outer hip muscles, really important muscles for balance and stability. One more, inhale, sweeping your knees apart from one another, and exhaling back together. We'll switch sides, so from hands and knees, inhale and open your right knee to the right, and then exhale, come back to hands and knees. Now like you're opening and closing a book, inhale to open, and exhale close. As you do this, hug your left hip in, your outer left hip in, toward the midline.

If you need it to be harder, you could also do this with your left hand off of the ground. Inhaling open, and exhaling to close. Just two more, lengthening your spine, inhale, and exhale. And then opening, and breathe out closing, coming back to hands and knees. From there, we'll come into a seated position.

So just finding your way to a comfortable cross-legged seat, lengthening your spine, and then taking your right hand to the earth on the right side, reach your left arm up and over. Feel a sense of stretch through the left side of your body, and the movement of your breathing, also on the left side, left side ribs and waist. To switch sides, place your left hand down on your left side, and reach the right arm up and over. Tuning into the movement of your breath here, and perhaps your breathing feels like gentle ocean waves, a kind of soothing rhythm, rising and falling, flowing in and flowing out. Come back to the center, and then come down onto your back.

All right, we'll give our hips a couple nice stretches here on our back. So rolling to the right side of your body, bending your left knee, and reaching your left hand back for your foot or your ankle, this is a quadricep stretch. So feeling that stretching sensation on the front of the left thigh. If you can't quite reach your foot or ankle, you could always hold your pant leg instead. Being gentle as you release, so we want that knee joint to reopen slowly, and then we'll switch sides.

So rolling now to the left side of your body. Rolling up on your left side, bending your right knee, reaching back to hold your foot or ankle. As we come toward the close of our class, allowing your eyes to soften closed, softening the small muscles around the eyes and eyebrows, unhinging your jaw, and then being gentle and slow as you let go of your foot. Come back onto your back for a figure four stretch. Cross your left ankle across the right thigh, and then draw the right thigh in toward the body, interlacing your hands behind the back of the right leg.

Feeling a gentle stretching sensation in the outer left hip, and holding on in a way that is as useful as possible for your shoulders, your fingers, your neck. Sending your whole body a breath of kindness. Switching sides, cross your right ankle across the left thigh, gently drawing the left thigh in toward you. One more breath. And setting up now for final relaxation.

Keeping your legs and your arms, allowing your body to be supported by the Earth. Good job. Good job. If you have a little bit longer to rest, you are welcome to stay here on your back. To take a formal close of today's class with me, come into a seated position, just rolling to your side and pressing yourself up. Once you arrive in seated, you're welcome to close your eyes again for a moment longer, perhaps taking the hands together in front of your heart, letting your awareness stay inside for a moment longer, feeling the breath flow in and the breath flow out. Thank you so much for your practice today. Namaste.


Jenny S
1 person likes this.
I’m loving these classes with you Hattie ❤️ I’m finding them to be so beneficial to counteract the sometimes unpleasant after effects of hiking and gardening.  🌞🪴🥾
Kelley S
1 person likes this.
Love the thoughtful way you explain the movements:)
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Hattie! 💜❤️❣️
David G-
2 people like this.
You put together some of my favorite moves to strengthen the back, especially the Warrior 3  with blocks. Will be coming back to this practice as I have stenosis. Best, David 
Kate M
1 person likes this.
All over yummy practice! Thanks, Hattie. Feels so good...   : )
Kate Y
All the practices in this series feel strengthening and calming.  thanks, Hattie!  Hoping for more ...
Michael K
These classes are excellent.  Have had low back stiffness all week and these have provided relief as the pain has receded a little bit each day.

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