The Bendy Series: Back Flexibility

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Some people are blessed with a bendy back and the rest of us seem to have a spine made of stone but don’t worry… we have the answer!

As part of our bendy series, yogi Claire Bell has helped us put together another awesome stretch routine to build a strong and flexible back which is perfect for those back balances and twisty shapes.

Claire is a true inspiration to us wannabe bendy people so show her your support by checking out and following her Instagram for your daily fix.

Warm Up

Before you start this routine, it’s important to warm up your back and activate the muscles you’ll be using to prevent injury.

Spend 5 mins working through the following exercises:

  • Side to side twists
  • Cat/cow combo
  • Toe touches
  • 30 second plank

Once you’re lovely and warm, grab your yoga mat and find a comfy spot to begin.

The Stretches

Each stretch should be held for 20 to 30 seconds and the whole routine shouldn’t take any more than 10 to 15 minutes. 

Cat Pose

Cat Pose

Begin in table top pose, making sure your shoulders are stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees.

Inhale and bring your belly button inwards towards your spine and arch your back upwards. On your exhale, release and bring your spine back down to neutral.

Cow Pose

Cow Pose

Stay in the same starting position as you did for cat – cow is just the reverse.

Inhale and arch your spine as much as you can without causing any pain then return to neutral on your exhale.

Claire says – “These first 2 poses are done as a flow cat to cow cat to cow I will repeat 5-10 times, this also serves as a nice back warm up before the next stretches.”

Seal Pose

Seal Pose

Lay flat on the ground with your hands by your side. Lift your upper body high and arch your back as far as you can.

Soften your elbows so that there is a slight bend and keep them tucked into your sides.

Try to keep your hips flat to the ground but its ok if you can’t on your first few attempts – after all, practice makes perfect.

Bow Pose

Bow Pose

Lay on your front and reach your arm behind you, grabbing any part of your legs between your ankles and knees. Slowly arch your back and straighten your legs as much as you can (without hurting yourself).

If you have good shoulder flexibility, you can reach over your head and hold your feet for a deeper stretch.

Top tip: If you’re unable to grab your legs, try using a yoga strap to bridge the gap.

Camel Pose

Camel Pose

Kneel on the floor and arch your back downwards so that you are able to grab your ankles. Once you’re in this position, push your hips forward to get a lovely deep stretch.

Camel Pose – Beginners variation

Beginner’s variation: If you’re finding this stretch a bit challenging, try tucking your toes to give you extra height while working towards being able to keep your feet flat.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose

Sit in a half split (front leg bent and back leg straight) then bend your back leg, arch your back and reach over your head to grab your foot bringing it to your head.

As this pose is a bit advanced, don’t worry if you don’t have the back or shoulder flexibility – just keep working on it!

Pigeon Pose – Beginners variation

Beginner’s variation: Grab yourself a resistance band, yoga strap or belt and attach to your foot. This will help you bring your foot steadily towards your head and hold the pose.

Bridge Pose

Lay flat on your back and bring your feet up to your bum. Place your hands flat by your ears and fingers pointing to your feet, push your tummy up to the roof and rock your chest forward. Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your hands.

Your arms should be straight with elbows locked to provide the stability you need to hold this pose. If you need a bit of help, try using a yoga wheel or ask someone to support your back.

Claire says: “This requires some shoulder flexibility which I clearly don’t have as my shoulders aren’t in the correct place but I practiced often so they’ll get there.”

Teardrop Back Bend

Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, begin to arch your back and slowly slide your hands down your leg. Pushing your hips forward will help keep you balanced.

It’s as simple as that…

And rest…

Finally it’s important to finish with some forward folds to help cool down and prevent sore muscles. Also these folds are great as short breaks throughout the routine to help recover.

Child’s Pose

Kneel down with your knees apart and walk your hands forward. Try to keep your big toes touching and your bum sat on your heels.

Spend 1-2 minutes concentrating on your breathing and letting your body relax.

Forward Fold

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lean forward, keeping your back as straight as you can and pull your chest towards your knees.

As with child’s pose, spend a bit of time on your breathing and relax into this stretch.

Beginner’s variation: Soften your knees slightly to allow you to bring your chest to your knees. Remember – a straight back is more important than straight legs.

Remember – keep up the hard work and you’ll see amazing results 🙂

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