The second of the four spine strengthening poses focuses on the upper back strength. Upper back strength includes postural muscles that help keep the shoulders, neck, and chest in proper placement. Developing these muscles in the upper back help to keep the carriage of the body in optimal health.
Lying on your belly, bring your chin forward to lengthen your neck. Flip your palms down to face the floor and bring both of your arms, straight as possible, under your body. Lift your hips to help facilitate the tightest position of your arms underneath your body – try to get your elbows to touch! With your arms underneath you, spread your fingers as wide as you can to cover the most amount of space with your hands.
Relax your left leg completely. Stretch your right leg long behind you and lift it up to the ceiling. Try to lift your right leg to a 45-degree angle. Keep your right leg absolutely straight as you try to lift it to this angle. Point your toes and make sure your right hip is still touching your right forearm. This checkpoint will guarantee your hip stay aligned, and therefore you will work the correct muscles. Keep the lifted leg strong and straight and energized for the whole 10 seconds of this posture.
Use your wide-finger grip to press into the mat and towel beneath you, energizing your arms to help stabilize you. This will help you lift your leg higher.
Slowly lower the right leg, relax it, and start the other side.
After you have lifted each leg individually for 10 seconds each, tuck your chin to your throat and bring your mouth to your mat and towel. Make sure the back of your neck stays long and open through the rest of the posture.
Energize your arms and press the palms forcefully into the floor. Feels the arms engage and you lift BOTH LEGS up towards the ceiling, trying to reach that 45-degree angle. This is infinitely harder, but worth the effort! Both legs lifting will take all the effort and focus you have…but it’s only for 10 seconds! Keep your mouth down, arms and hands pressing into the floor beneath you, and your legs together, straight, and strong. After 10 seconds, slowly lower the legs and roll your arms out from underneath you.
In this 3-part pose, we use the weight of each leg to help strengthen the upper back. First, we use each leg individually, and then we challenge our strength to lift both legs together. When we engage our arms to help find the strength to lift our legs, we bring more blood flow to the upper back muscles. Because our arms are “stuck” underneath the body, this position forces proper circulation exactly to the spots we intend it to go. When the upper back is strong, the lower back receives a lot less pressure. With upright posture, we naturally extend the length of the spine and allow for optimal space for the vital organs of the body to function with efficiency and ease.