Relieve tension and soothe tight muscles with these easy backbends to improve your posture.
When we sit for too long, our posture is one of the first things to go. The shoulders begin to round forward, tightening the chest muscles, causing back pain, and even affecting our mood.
Fixing your posture could be the key to reducing fatigue and a low mood, as studies show that posture tends to reflect our emotional states. A recent study on depression used physiotherapy tape to help upright some participants’ posture. These participants showed an improvement in their depressive symptoms and were more positive, excited, and enthusiastic than those who retained poor posture. This shows how our body positioning can affect the mind, and vice versa. (1, 2)
Yoga backbends can work similarly to help to improve your posture by releasing tight chest and shoulder muscles. As a result, you’ll experience improved circulation and start to feel more focused and energized. (3)
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To combat a long day of sitting, practice these poses whenever you start slouching. Do this routine up to twice daily. All you need is a yoga mat and a yoga block or pillow.
7 Gentle Backbends to Release Tight Muscles
Bound Bridge | 8 breaths
Start with this gentle backbend that opens up the chest and shoulders while also strengthening the core.
- Lie down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Reach your arms down alongside your body.
- Inhale to lift your hips up towards the sky to come into a bridge. Engage your lower abs.
- Interlace your hands underneath your lower back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for eight breaths.
Standing Backbend | 5 breaths
Energize the body and mind with this easy backbend.
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Engage your quads and abs.
- Place your palms on your lower back with your fingers pointing downward.
- Press into your lower back with your palms and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you inhale and lift your chest up towards the sky.
- Hold for five slow breaths, then use your abs to upright your spine.
Cobra | 5 breaths
This heart opener awakens the chest, shoulders, and spine.
- Lie on your belly. Place your palms on your mat next to your ribs so that your elbows are stacked over your shoulders. Engage your abs.
- Inhale to press into your palms and peel your chest off the ground.
- Squeeze your shoulders together and keep a small bend in the elbows. Hold for five breaths.
Shoulder Pigeon | 8 breaths per side
This shoulder and chest opener brings fresh blood to your circulation.
- Lie on your belly and straighten your arms out to a T shape. Rest your right cheek on the mat and bend your left knee.
- Roll onto your right shoulder and step your left foot outside of your right thigh, so that your left knee points towards the sky.
- If your cheek can’t stay on the ground, place a yoga block or pillow underneath it. Close your eyes and relax here for eight breaths, then switch sides.
Bound Locust Pose | 5 breaths
Get your heart rate pumping with this energizing backbend.
- Lie on your belly and interlace your hands behind your lower back. Bring your legs together.
- Inhale to lift your head, chest, and legs at the same time, reaching your arms out behind you.
- Keep your gaze down and forward so that your neck is long. Hold for five breaths, then release.
Modified Camel | 5 breaths
This easy version of a classic backbend opens up the entire frontline of the body.
- Kneel on your mat with your knees hip-width distance apart.
- Tuck your toes under and engage your abs. Place your palms on your lower back so that your fingers point down towards the ground.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and inhale to lift your chest up towards the sky. Gaze up and hold for five breaths.
Fish | 5 breaths
This backbend releases tension in the upper chest and the front of the neck.
- Lie on your mat with your knees bent and your feet on the mat hip-width distance apart.
- Slide your hands underneath your glutes with your palms face down so that you are sitting on the tops of your hands. Then, lift your chest up and prop yourself up on your forearms.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and exhale to tilt your head back, opening up the throat. Gently touch the top of your head to the mat, making sure not to put any weight on your head.
- Hold for five breaths.
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