The beauty of yoga for me is that I have the pleasure of teaching a wide range of ages and fitness levels: from children to octogenarians, athletes to desk warriors and beyond! What I have found over the last 10 years is that it’s often back pain and issues this causes that brings people to try yoga.
I think most people are aware of the importance of working on your core for a stronger back…..but what does ‘working on your core’ actually mean?
Should you be doing abdominal crunches? Pulling in your stomach? Stretching?
The key points for working on your core:
- Core Strength and stability should target all your abdominal muscles which include rectus, transverse and oblique abdominals
- Core Strength and stability should include the muscles in your back, including erector spinae and rhomboid muscles
- Glutes and muscles involved in hip flexion and extension should be involved as well
- Proper breathing techniques aid core stability
- Pelvic floor activation is crucial in building your core strength from inside out
The following five yoga poses work the abdominal and back muscles and glutes:
The pelvic tilt is a simple way to engage your deep transverse abdominal muscles and is an effective way of easing an aching lower back.
Method: Lie on your back, bend legs placing feet on the floor hip-width apart.
Inhale lifting navel towards ceiling keeping your hips on the floor to create a gap in your lumbar spine.
On exhale press navel into floor to flatten lower back.
Repeat six times and then hug knees into your abdomen, massaging back into mat.
Stretches entire back and shoulders, working abdominals and releasing lower backache
Method: Start on all fours.
Inhale raising head slightly and hips, dipping mid back.
Exhale round your back, tucking chin in and tailbone under.
Push mid back towards ceiling and draw belly in.
Repeat six times.
Extended Table Top with Abdominal Crunch
Targets transverse abdominals, glutes, hamstrings and back.
Method: Start on all fours, keeping torso stable.
Inhale raise left leg and right arm in a diagonal stretch.
Option 1… remain here, gazing downwards for five breaths or transition from side to side aiming to keeping torso still and stable.
Option 2… as you exhale draw knee in towards abdomen and elbow in towards knee, repeat up to four times on each side.
Strengthens and extends back
Method: Slide your hands underneath your shoulders, keeping elbows tucked into the sides.
Inhale and lift upper back, pressing palms into the mat and using arms to elevate your upper body.
Tuck tailbone under and slide shoulders down.
Stay for five breaths and then gently lower down.
Targets glutes, quads and hamstrings. Stretches hip flexors, pectoral muscles and shoulders
Method: Lie on your back with legs bent and feet on the floor, hip-distant apart.
Place arms by your sides.
Inhale press palms into mat and raise hips up.
Check knees are aligned with your hips.
Remain in position for five or more breaths, maintaining lift.
Ease slowly down to the floor and hug knees into abdomen.
Relaxed twist stretches our glutes, hips, torso, back and shoulders
Method: Lie down on your back and draw knees into abdomen.
Press lower back into the mat and draw arms out at shoulder height.
Exhale and lower knees to the right side, turning head to the left.
Repeat on other side.