Upper Back Stretch
Cross body shoulder stretch
Grab one arm above your elbow with your opposite hand, and pull it across your body toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your shoulder.
Hold for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Stretches the shoulder muscles, including the deltoid, teres minor, and supraspinatus.
Eagle pose or Garudasana (for arms)
Extend your arms straight in front of your body.
Wrap your arms and hands as you press your palms together
Lift your elbows as the fingertips reach away towards the ceiling, keeping your shoulder blades pressed back.
Benefits: Stretches the shoulders and upper back while increasing calm focus through breath awareness
Sit in a comfortable cross legged position and twist your torso towards your back
Place your left arm on your right knee and look over your right shoulder.
Hold for 10 seconds and switch sides.
Benefits: This exercise stretches your entire torso area and creates elongation in the spine.
Middle Back Stretch
Supported bridge pose or setu bandhasana (with blocks)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor, and parallel to each other.
Slide your yoga blocks under your mid-back and directly under the base of your skull
Allow the arms to reach up and grab opposite elbows, allowing for deep rest for 2-3 minutes.
You may perform this without blocks, with the feet parallel, lift the hips up to the sky and allow the hands to remain by the sides of the body
To come out, press down into your feet and lift your hips again. Slide the blocks out from underneath, and gently lower your back to the floor.
Benefits: This pose helps relieve the hunch from poor posture and sitting, giving you more flexibility and mobility for daily activities.
Lower Back Stretch
Supine Hamstring Stretch
Lie on the floor on your back, with both legs stretched out and your feet flat on the floor.
Tighten your stomach muscles.
Slowly pull on the right leg toward your chest using a strap allowing your lower back to remain on the ground.
Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Lower the leg back down to the floor.
Repeat on the other side.
Now, use the strap for the soles of both feet and draw both feet in towards your chest, just as much as feels comfortable.
Benefits: Stretching the hamstrings will help keep muscles loose and flexible, which will improve posture and flexibility, and prevent lower back pain.
Side Seated Wide Angle Pose or Parsva Upavistha Konasana
Stretch the legs wide, keeping the leg muscles active, and feet flexed.
Exhale and stretch to the right, sliding the right hand along the right leg.
Take the opposite hand and place it on the opposite thigh
Keep the hips grounded and lift the upper body to lengthen the spine
Feel the left side of the body lengthening from the hip all the way to the fingertips
Hold for several long smooth breaths. To return to centre, inhale and lift the torso and left arm upward, then exhale lowering the arm. Repeat on the opposite side.
Benefits: This posture serves strengthens and stretches the spine and the back muscles. It also stretches and tones the hamstrings and inner thighs, opens the hips, the torso and ribcage, increasing lung capacity and circulation.
Sushmitha Shrikanth is a certified teacher, trained at the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute. Follow Juru Yoga on Instagram (@juruyoga) for an open-to-all yoga training session on June 21, International Yoga Day.