Yoga for a Sculpted Back

"Yoga provides a fun way to improve your posture, strengthen your core, tone your back, and get those sculpted arms! Through a consistent practice of basic yoga poses, you will notice a difference in the way you feel physically and emotionally. You're sure to notice a boost in your confidence as well as your strength!

Remember, the basic poses can be a challenge at times. But the more you show up to your mat and practice, the easier they will become. So in the beginning don't get discouraged if you fall or can't find your fingers. Modify the poses and meet yourself where you are. Soon enough, you will find your groove." - Irena Miller

 

Crocodile Pose Variation

Yoga for a Strong Back www.irenamiller.com
Yoga for a Strong Back www.irenamiller.com

 

How it’s done:

Lying down on your belly, arms at 90 degrees (like a cactus), both legs extended behind you, point your feet, and keep your feet about hip distance wide. Press the tops of the feet firmly onto the earth, scoop your tailbone, and engage your lower belly. Draw your shoulder blades towards each other and down the back. Lift your chest, head, and finally arms. Keep your elbows in line with your shoulders. Lengthen from the belly out through the crown of your head and back through the balls of your feet.  Hold for 3 breaths.

 

How it helps:

Strengthen your upper back and improve your posture.

 

Locust Pose Series with Variations

Strenghten Your Back with this Yoga Pose and say goodbye to lower back pain. Locust Pose variation. www.irenamiller.com

How it’s done:

Lying down on your belly, arms extended alongside the body, palms facing down.  Both legs extended behind you, point your feet, press the tops of the feet firmly into the earth, scoop your tailbone, and engage your lower belly. Then press the palms into the earth, engage your upper back, drawing shoulder blades towards one another and down the back.  Lift the chest, head, and feet up off the floor. Keep your palms on the mat pressing down. Your head should be an extension of your spine, either look at the floor or a few inches in front of you. Balance on your belly and take 3 breaths.

 

Strengthen your lower back with yoga and avoid back pain. Locust Pose variation. www.irenamiller.com

How it’s done:

Instead of keeping your palms flat on the ground, begin on your belly with your palms facing your hips, thumbs pointing down. Press the tops of the feet firmly into the earth, scoop your tailbone, and engage your lower belly.  Engage your shoulder blades and draw them towards one another and down the back.  Lift the chest, head, feet, and arms up off the floor. Keep your arms parallel to one another, extending directly back from your shoulders. Balance on your belly and take 3 breaths. Keep your feet hip distance wide and spread your toes.

 

Yoga for a Strong Back and Open Shoulders. Locust Pose variation. www.irenamiller.com

How it’s done:

Begin just as you did in the previous step. This time when you lift your head, chest, arms, and feet off the floor, see if you can interlace your fingers together. Scoop the tailbone, draw those shoulder blades towards each other, and spread your toes. Lengthen from the belly out through the crown of your head and back through the balls of your feet. For a challenge bring the inner edges of your legs and feet together.
 

How it helps:

Strengthen upper and lower back while toning your arms.


 

Crescent Pose - High Lunge with Cactus Arms

 

Yoga for Core and Upper Back Strength. www.irenamiller.com
Yoga for Core Strength and Upper Back. www.irenamiller.com

How it’s done:

From a forward bend, step your right leg back, bend your left leg to 90 degrees, keeping knee over ankle and facing in the direction of your toes. With your arms on either side of your front left leg, squeeze the inner thighs towards one another, lift the back inner thigh an inch higher, and spread those toes (it will help you balance!). Keep your legs working for you, engage your belly, drawing the sides of your waistline back, and lift your arms to 90 degrees with your torso at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Draw those shoulder blades towards one another and down your back. Extend and lengthen from your belly out through the crown of your head and back through the arch of your right foot. Take 3 breaths. If you want a challenge, root through your right heel, scoop the tailbone and come upright with your torso. Take 3 breaths. Then bring your torso back to a 45 degree angle. Repeat the sequence of folding the torso forward and coming upright 3 times. Then bring your hands to the floor step forward, switch sides and repeat.

 

How it helps:

Burn calories as you hold this pose and use the major muscles of the legs and core to support you. Strengthen your upper back and work your core.


 

High Lunge with Twist

Yoga for Your Back. www.irenamiller.com

How it’s done:

From the high lunge, with your right leg back, and hands on either side of your right foot, move your right hand 10 inches to the right. Spread your back toes, hug your thighs towards one another, place your left hand on your left hip, and keep your outer left hip tacked back. Lean onto the right hand, lift your right inner thigh an inch higher, and begin to twist towards your left leg. Extend the left arm to the sky and look up towards your hand. Take 3 breaths and then switch sides.

 

Low Lunge with Twist

Yoga for Weight Loss and Your Waistline. www.irenamiller.com
Yoga for Your Waistline. www.irenamiller.com

How it’s done:

From the high lunge, with your right leg back, lower your knee towards the floor. Bring both hands onto your front thigh. Extend the right arm up to the sky as you press your left hand down onto your front thigh. Lengthen from your hips to your underarms and twist towards your left leg. Bring your right elbow across the thigh and stack your hands in a prayer position. Keep the mound of your left big toe pressed down, your outer left hip tacked back, and your right toes spreading. Take 3 breaths (it’s a little harder to take a deep breath here, do the best you can). Then switch sides.

 

How it helps:

Unlock the tight knots in the upper back that limit you from moving and strengthening your upper back. Twists are wonderful poses for detoxification. Improve your posture and tone your abs.



 

Warrior III Variations

Yoga for a Strong Core and Back and Legs. www.irenamiller.com

Variation 1

How it’s done:

From the high lunge with your right foot back, hug your thighs towards one another, keep your outer left hip tacked back, and spread your right toes. Lift your right inner thigh an inch higher, engage your core and move the sides of your waistline back, and bring your arms to cactus. Lean into your left foot and bring your left hip over your left foot. Keep your hips square, lift your right foot off the floor and bring your leg and torso parallel to the floor.

Bring your arms into 90 degree angles (like a cactus) and extend your right leg from your belly back through the foot. Draw those shoulder blades towards one another and keep the sides of the ribs moving to the sky.

Yoga for a Strong Back. Yoga for Back Pain. www.irenamiller.com

 

Variation 2

Extend the arms behind you, palms facing hips, thumbs down.

 

Yoga for a Strong Back. www.irenamiller.com

Variation 3

Interlace the fingers behind your back and lengthen your knuckles back towards your foot.

Warrior III. Yoga for a Strong Core and a Strong back. www.irenamiller.com

Variation 4

Reach both arms forward, parallel to one another and the ground.

 

Take 3 deep breaths. Then lower your right foot next to you left, and your hands to the ground, arriving into a forward bend. Take 3 breaths here and then switch sides and do Warrior III on the right leg.

 

How it helps:

Strengthen the shoulders and muscles of the back. Strengthen your core and ankles.



 

Humble Warrior

Yoga for a Strong Back and Core. www.irenamiller.com
Yoga for Strong Back, Core, and Legs. www.irenamiller.com

How it’s done:

From a high lunge with the right foot back, swivel your right foot flat, lining up the arch of the right foot with the heel of the left. On an inhale, wind mill your arms up and extend them out into a ‘T’ - otherwise known as Warrior II. Keep the outer edge of the right foot pressing down and the inner thigh strong and lifted. Now interlace your fingers behind your back (or hold onto a belt if your fingers don’t reach each other). Lift up through your chest, lengthening from your hips to under arms, and slowly fold towards the front diagonal. The inner thighs move in, back, and wide and your left hip will move out to the side slightly. This is okay temporarily as you find your depth in the forward fold. Continue to draw your shoulder blades towards one another and down your back. Now tack your outer left hip back and make sure your left knee points in the direction of your toes. Engage your belly, especially the left side of the belly draw it in and up. Keep the back right leg strong so you don’t tire too quickly. Then lengthen from your belly out through the crown of your head and from your belly down through your feet. Take 3 breaths and switch sides.

 

How it helps:

Create length in the back, release tension in the neck and shoulders. Strengthen your legs, core, and back.

 

Side Plank Variations

Yoga for Strong Arms, Back, and Core. www.irenamiller.com

How it's done:  

From Downward Facing Dog, pivot onto the outer edge of your left foot, bring your right leg in front of you at 90 degrees, and plant your right foot flat in the center of your mat. Make sure your right hand is one hand length in front of your shoulder, rather than directly underneath it (so that your arm and torso form a 90 degree angle). Root through your right foot, anchor through the four corners of your right hand, lift your hips, and extend your left arm to the sky. Take 3 breaths and switch sides.

Yoga for Strong Core, Back, and Arms. www.irenamiller.com

How it's done:

From the previous variation, stack your top foot onto your bottom. Flex your feet and draw from the pinky toe side of your top foot towards your outer knee. Scoop your tailbone, keep your hips lifted, and turn your chest to face the side wall. Extend your top arm to the sky or keep your hand on your hip. Take 3 breaths and then switch sides.

 

How it helps:

Strengthen your arms and core all while engaging your upper back.

Bridge Pose Variations

 

Yoga for open heart, strong back. www.irenamiller.com

Variation 1:

How it’s done:

Lying on your back, bend both legs, and place your feet hips’ distance wide and parallel. Bring your arms into a 90 degree angle (cactus arms). Root down through the four corners of your feet and lift your hips. Please note, there is no weight on the back of your neck. You should be able to have someone slide a pencil beneath your neck and the floor. Your weight is balanced between your feet, shoulders, arms, and back of the head.

 

Yoga for a Strong Back. www.irenamiller.com

Variation 2:

Extend both arms alongside your body. Shrug your shoulders towards your ears (a temporary adjustment to create length and space for you back). Bend both arms, fingertips point to the sky. Press your elbows into the floor, and your shoulder blades will engage more easily. Root down through your feet and lift your hips. Roll your shoulders under you one at a time and come up onto the tops of your shoulders. Remember, there is no weight on the back of your neck.

 

Yoga for a Strong Back. www.irenamiller.com

Variation 3
Maintain the alignment in your shoulders and extend your arms straight. Hold the edges of your sticky mat and pull the mat towards your feet. Lengthen from the roof of your mouth out through your knees and extend your heart back in the direction of your head.

 

yoga for a strong back. www.irenamiller.com

Variation 4

Or interlace your fingers and press your forearms into the floor.

 

How it helps:

Strengthen the upper back, neck, arms, and legs.



 

Yoga for the Seasons with Irena Miller. www.irenamiller.com Get into the rhythm of the season and find your groove with yoga.

Irena Miller teaches bite-sized yoga to curious, intuitive people who want to feel at peace in their body and in the world. Her online yoga adventures target how to get you into the rhythm of the season. Strengthen the core in the summer, release shoulder tension in the spring, open tight hips in the fall, and alleviate sore backs in the winter.