10 Mobility Moves for a Happy Back
Practice our top 10 Mobility Moves from our Happy Backs Class at home!
We are celebrating the love of movement with our top 10 favourite mobility moves from our Happy Backs class. What makes your spine happier than movement? If there's an answer I don't know what it is. Movement keeps our joints and connective tissues healthy and young. The more you practice mobility work the more supple you will become; and the happier your whole body will feel.
Is your back stiff and achy or do you just need to relax? Go back and read our top 10 Relaxing Poses for the Back and come back to this one when your ready to move.
* Join us for a Happy Backs Workshop in the studio!
We are starting off laying on our backs and finding our DB (Diaphragmatic Breath). Find a comfortable reclined position laying on your mat. Gently place your hands on your lower ribs and begin to focus your breath towards your hands. On your inhales feel your hands raise as you breathe towards the bottom of the ribs with a sense of expansion. As you exhale feel your hands and ribs relax back in.
Repeat this until your breath feels easy and deep.
1. Knees into chest with DB
One at a time bring your knees in towards your chest. Take a moment here to gently rock from side to side or up and down. If it feels good, circle the knees in both directions and massage out the lower back and hips.
On your inhales breathing towards the bottom of the rib cage let your knees come away from your torso. Keep your hands on your knees or shins. Let the ribs expand with the breath as you open up your pose.
On your exhales bring your knees back in as you feel the ribs relax back in towards each other. Press all your breath out as you hug the knees in.
Keep moving in and out with your breath. Let your breath guide you here. Remember to keep your jaw soft and shoulders relaxed.
Repeat this movement 3-6 times as it feels right to you.
2. Legs Extended with DB
Start with your knees into chest again; you can relax your arms down beside you. This time as you inhale reach the bottom of your feet towards the ceiling and extend the legs. Keep a soft bend in your knees as you flex the toes at the peak of your inhale. Feel the ankles stack over the hips as you breath into the rib cage.
As you exhale soften the knees back into the chest. You can hug the knees in or leave your arms resting on the floor. Once again feel the ribs close as you reach the end of the exhale. On your inhale extend the legs back up. Keep moving with your breath.
Repeat this movement 3-6 times as it feels right for you.
3. Windshield Wipers
Still laying on your back, place your feet on your mat and keep your knees bent towards the ceiling. Bring your feet wider than your hips and inhale with a sense of expansion here. As you exhale slowly take both knees over to the right side of your mat, keeping your feet wide. Go until you feel sensation in the hips and complete your exhale. Stay here and inhale. As you exhale draw your ribs and lower abdomen in (belly button to spine) this will assist in stabilizes the hips and lower back as you bring your knees back up. Inhale here and repeat on the second side.
Repeat this movement 3-6 times as feels good to you.
Come to your hands and knees into a table top position. Place your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Find a neutral spine - gaze towards the centre of your mat just in front of your finger tips. Feel the sit bones reach towards the back of your mat as you lengthen the crown of the head towards the front of your mat.
Starting on your exhale - feel the ribs come in as you breath out. Draw your belly button in towards your spine. Feel your shoulders blades open away from the spine and bring your chin in towards your chest without compressing your throat. As your round imagine lifting the back body towards the ceiling.
As you inhale relax the front body. Allow the ribs to expand and open with the breath. Draw your chest forward and up and look just past the front of your mat. Keep the back of the neck lengthened and avoid compressing the cervical spine. As you exhale round back up into your cat stretch.
Repeat this movement 3-6 times adding in other variations of cat/cow that feel good.
5. Cat/Cow Variations
Chin to Chest - starting in your table top position, inhale here. Exhale into your cat stretch just bringing the chin towards the chest. Only the cervical spine moves here. Inhale to neutral (if it still feels good lift the chin and gaze slightly towards the front of your mat. Exhale chin to chest. Repeat 2-3 times.
Ear to Shoulder - start in table top with a neutral spine. Inhale with a sense of expansion; feel yourself get taller; as you exhale slowly bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. (focus on the length more than getting the ear to touch the shoulder). Inhale back to neutral; exhale to the left. Repeat 2-3 times each side.
Look over Shoulder - starting in neutral; inhale with length. Exhale feel that length as you slowly look over your right shoulder. Inhale look back to your mat; exhale look over your left shoulder. Repeat 2-3 times each side.
Extended Cat/Cow - For extra length try extending one leg at a time in each of the other cat/cow variations. With your toes tucked under feel a sense of length through your whole body.
Take a Yoga Break!
You've been in table top long enough. Walk it out in Downward Dog or take a rest in Child's Pose.
6. Thoracic Spine Mobility
Back into our table top. Find your alignment. Shoulders/wrists, Hips/knees. Place your right hands on your left shoulder. Weight is in your left hands so be active and strong in your left arm. Inhale and open to (your end range of motion) the right; exhale and bring your right elbow towards your left wrists (note: this does not mean they need to touch - go as far as is comfortable to you). Repeat this 3-5 times on the right before practicing on the left side.
7. Good Mornings
Choose your variations - hands on hips, hands behind head, you can even hold a light amount of weight as long as you maintain an active core and stay tall.
Starting in mountain pose with your feet hips width apart. In mountain pose, feet are parallel to each other, pelvis is neutral (front of hips face forward) shoulders are over hips and ear are over shoulders. Find your DB and begin to add gentle engagement in your abdomen as you exhale.
Ready to move! As you exhale begin to bend your knees and take your hips back. It is really important that you connect to your core as you exhale now and maintain a neutral spine. Stay above 90 (don't let your chest go lower than your hips). Engage your hamstrings.
As you inhale stay engaged and active and come back to your mountain pose.
This movement is only happening at the hips so work to maintain that core DB.
Repeat 6 times take a rest in mountain poses and repeat 6 more times.
Find some wall space. Using a yoga block or a thick book find your balance on one leg holding on to the wall. Begin in a neutral position with the hips even. Keeping the hips even let the free leg relax slightly and begin to move it forward and back. Once you have momentum let it relax more. Now try to just let the movement happen without controlling it. Let the leg swing. Feel silly? Good its working! Find your DB and count 6 breaths. Inhale/Exhale = one count.
Come back to neutral, even the hips. Take a breath here and gently step off your block. Get set up and repeat on the second leg.
9. Single Bound Angle
Return to a reclined position on your mat. Bend your knees and bring your feet hips width apart. Find your DB. Inhale and let your right knee open into half butterfly or bound angle pose. On your exhale draw your rib cage in, lower abdomen in and bring your right knee back up. Inhale and let your left knee open out to the side. Exhale engage and come back up. Repeat each side 3-5 times. Hug your knees into chest and get ready for our final and best mobility movement!
10. SI Release
We have yet to come up with a better name for this movement. If you have an idea let us know!
You will need to find some wall space and place the short edge of your mat against the wall. Our starting position - Place your feet on the wall 2 -3 inches above the floor (usually just above the base board). Knees are slightly bent and feet are together or as close as you can get them. Remember this position because you will come back to it between each movement.
Bring your right knee into your chest. Feel rooted on your right side; from the back of your shoulder to the back of your hip. Inhale here. As you exhale, press into the heel (not the toes) of your left foot. As your press your left heel into the wall straighten your left leg. You will feel yourself drag and pull on your mat. You might even slide a bit to the side. That is what we want to happen.
Come back to your starting position and repeat on the second side. Repeat this movement 3 times on each side. Place the feet on the mat and have the knees bent. Observe what you are feeling. Does one side still feel higher or stuck? Repeat the movement for that side only (3 more times); bring the opposite knee in to stretch the stuck or tighter side.
The movement is happening in the SI joint (sacroiliac joint). This is where the base of the spine (sacrum) and the pelvis join.
Place your feet on your mat and come back to just observing what you are feeling. If you need to, repeat any of the 10 movements to feel your best and make your back happy!
Carry on with your day or if you have time give yourself a few minutes in Savasana.
May your inner beauty, grace and strength now reflect in your outer being.
Did you enjoy this article? Come take part in our Happy Backs Workshops in the Studio!