Relax the (upper) Back

If you are suffering from pain caused from tightness in the upper back, relax into this simple sequence to find relief.

A few weeks ago, my shoulder blades and upper back were painfully tight from hours spent sitting and working on an intense project, (and probably rolling my shoulders forward contributing to misalignment). I felt like I just couldn’t find relief from the tightness and decided that I might just need a deep massage or adjustment of some kind.

In a last ditch effort to save myself, I practiced the following sequence one evening:

Pose 1: Eagle Arms Forward Fold

Props:
Yoga Blanket x 1

Time Length:
5 breaths right and left side

1. From a seated posture (cross-leg or seated on the heels) stretch your arms out to a “t”. Keep the tailbone and lower ribs tucked in for proper alignment.

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2. Cross right arm under the left and hinge the arms upward from the elbows. Face front or back of palms together, which ever is more accessible. Plug the shoulder blades in on the back body and parallel the elbows with the shoulders. Take a deep breath in..Image

3. aaaaaand hinge forward. Feel the shoulder blades and back body spread and stretch outward. Breathe into the back body and feel the opening. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side, reversing the cross of the legs as well.Image

Pose 2: Restorative-style Supported Backbend

Props:
Yoga Blanket x 4
Eye Pillow x 1

Time Length:
5 – 20 minutes

Contraindications:
pregnancy, neck problems

1. Fold a yoga-blanket in half 3 times. Take the long end and make small tight fold and then roll the entire blanket making a large roll. Make 2 of these large rolls and place the short sides together the length of your yoga mat.

2. Fold another blanket in half and make a partial long roll leaving part of the blanket unrolled. Use this blanket as a support for the Achilles Tendon and back of the heels.

3. Start with the knees bent and sit on the far end of the large roll. Lay back, the length of the spine making sure that the head and neck are supported. If appropriate, straighten the legs as you settle into the pose. Keep the knees bent for a more gentle variation.

4. Stretch the arms overhead and use 2 long-fold blankets underneath for support. Arms can also relax to the sides for a more gentle variation.

5. Cover the eyes with an eye pillow or small towel.

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As you settle into the pose, relax and release any muscular engagement or tension. Feel the support of the props and the gentle pull of gravity to release tightness in the back body.

Repeat daily as needed.

I practiced these two poses followed by a 20 minute Supported Savasana.
To my delight and surprise, the following morning, I woke up without any pain or soreness in my upper back!
I repeated this sequence for the next few days and the tightness completely subsided. whew! ~

thankful & relaxed


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