mbg moves: 13-Minute Yoga Flow For A Healthy Spine & Back
For any of us who spend a lot of time at home or in front of a screen, our bodies are very accustomed to the same movement patterns. We're so used to sitting and rolling our shoulders forward in one direction that we forget to move our body and our spine in the opposite direction—or to the sides, for that matter.
That's where a super-satisfying spinal yoga flow comes in. I've created this short but effective sequence to get your spine moving in all different directions. You can enjoy this flow every day or whenever you want to stretch and mobilize your back. Trust me; it will feel amazing!
Time: 13 minutes
Equipment: Yoga mat
Instructions: Move from one pose to the next, following the flow cues as noted.
To start: Begin in a standing position. Reach and extend your arms up to the sky. Take your right hand, grab your left wrist, and pull yourself over to the right side, allowing your side body to stretch. Take a moment to breathe. Then inhale, and come back up through center. Take your right hand, grab your left wrist, and repeat on the left side. Inhale, come back up through center, then bring your hands to your sides for mountain pose—allow your spine to lengthen and your shoulders to drop. Then, continue to forward fold.
- Come to the top of your mat. Inhale as you reach up to the sky.
- Exhale as you hinge at your hips, and fold down.
- Bend at your knees, grab for opposite elbows, and allow your body to sway from side to side.
- Plant your hands on your mat, come into half-lift with a flat back, then exhale as you fold back down.
- Repeat for three breaths, then move into forward fold twist.
Forward Fold Twist
- From forward fold, press your left hand into the ground.
- Reach your right hand up to the sky, allowing yourself to twist. Gaze up toward your fingertips. There can be a slight bend to the knees. Hold for a couple of breaths.
- Release back down to the mat, and repeat on the opposite side.
- Move into seated spinal twist.
Seated Spinal Twist
- Come down to sit on your mat, crossing your legs.
- Inhale your arms up to the sky. Take your right arm, place it on the mat behind you, and place your left hand on your left knee. Take a deep breath in.
- As you exhale, twist the body, gazing over your left shoulder.
- Hold for a couple of breaths, then come back to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Hold for a couple of breaths, then move into seated cat-cow.
- Come into a seated position, placing your hands on your knees.
- As you inhale, pull your chest forward, allowing your head to drop back.
- As you exhale, curl and round your spine, gazing toward your belly button.
- Link your breath to the movement, and continue for five complete breaths.
- Plant your hands on the ground, and move into cat-cow.
- Come to all fours. Ground down through your palms.
- As you inhale, drop your belly, and bring your gaze up to the sky.
- As you exhale, curl and round your spine, and bring your gaze toward your belly button.
- Repeat for three breaths, then move into child's pose waves.
Child's Pose Waves
- From all fours, walk your fingertips a little forward, toward the top of the mat. Bring your seat down to your heels, allowing your chest to rest on your thighs.
- Pull your torso forward, as you curl and round your spine.
- Then, slowly move in the opposite direction. Let your belly drop, open your heart, and bring your hips back to your heels.
- Repeat this movement three times, then bring your seat back to your heels.
- From here, move your hips over to the right. Come back, then repeat on the left.
- Repeat this movement three times, then move into downward dog waves.
Downward Dog Waves
- From all fours, allow your hips to rise, coming into downward dog.
- Ground down through the palms of your hands; allow your heels to rise.
- Pull your body forward, into a plank pose.
- Pull your chest open, and allow the hips to lift and move back into downward dog. (You can do this movement with straight legs or bent knees.)
- Repeat three times, then move into warrior 1.
- From downward dog, bring your right knee to your nose. Plant your right foot in between your hands.
- Pivot the back heel down, then lift your upper body. Bend your front knee, and stretch your arms toward the sky.
- Hold for a breath, then move into peaceful warrior.
- From warrior 1 pose, bring the left hand down behind you, and allow it to rest on the back of the left thigh.
- Keeping the right biceps by your ear, reach your arm backward. Gently bend your spine, gazing toward your fingertips.
- Hold for a breath, then move into triangle pose.
- From peaceful warrior, straighten your front leg.
- Bring your arms into a "T" position, then shift your body forward and bring your right hand to rest on your right foot or shin. Lift your left arm up toward the sky.
- Hold for a breath. Then continue to upward-facing dog.
- Plant your hands down on the mat, and bring your feet back into a plank position.
- Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body down halfway or all the way.
- As you inhale, bring your chest forward, bend your back, and gaze to the sky. At the same time, flip your feet over so the tops are pressed to the mat.
- Move directly into downward dog.
- From here, repeat the warrior 1, peaceful warrior, and triangle pose sequence on your left side. Repeat upward-facing dog, then continue to reverse plank.
- From downward-facing dog, walk your feet to meet your hands. Stay in forward fold for a couple of breaths, then come into a seated position on your mat.
- Extend your legs in front of you. Plant your hands behind you.
- Press through your hands and heels, lifting your legs, hips, and chest off of the ground. Allow your head to drape back.
- Hold for a couple of breaths, then allow your seat to come back down to the mat. Hinge at the hips, and reach for the feet with your hands. Hold for a couple of breaths, then move into supine spinal twist.
Supine Spinal Twist
- From a seated position, slowly lower all the way down to your mat.
- Bring your knees into your chest, and give them a hug.
- Cactus your arms on the ground, and allow your knees to fall to the right side. Come back through center, and then allow them to fall to the left.
- Come back through center, and drop your knees to the right side once again. This time, gaze over the left shoulder. Hold for a few breaths, or as long as you need. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Hug your knees into your chest, then roll up to a seated position. Bend to your right, then your left, stretching the sides of your body. Bring your hands overhead, then down to heart center to close your practice.
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