Yoga poses for spinal health.

Some daily spinal maintenance is very important if you want to have less joint pain and more mobility. Practicing some yoga poses for spinal health is a great way to preserve mobility and flexibility for the future.

It is unfortunate that so many people believe that pain and illness is “normal.” The truth is that health and function are often a result of how we live.

I have patients in their 80s who can run laps around people half their age. They have loads of energy and they are full of life and vitality.

What’s their secret? They MOVE! You won’t find them sitting on the couch at night. They’re outside working in the yard, playing with their grandkids, or walking around the neighborhood.

Motion is life, and if you want more life, you have to move more. Chiropractic and yoga are perfect partners for achieving this this goal.

Below are the yoga poses for spinal health that I recommend to my patients.

Also see our previous articles: 5 yoga poses for the lumbar spine and 5 yoga poses for the neck and shoulders.

10 Yoga Poses For Spinal Health And Mobility

*Always consult a licensed health professional before beginning a new activity or altering your health regimen.

Regarding the safety ratings below, poses with the higher ratings are safer and less likely to exacerbate pain. Be more careful as the rating get lower, especially if you have chronic spine pain or lack of mobility.

1. Cat/Cow

Safety Level: 10

Time: 1-3 Minutes

The Cat and Cow are two of the very best yoga poses for spinal health simply because they are great for gently flexing and extending the spine.

They’re simple, safe, and very effective.

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Start on your hands and knees. As you inhale, lift your eyes, chest, and tailbone while lowering your belly button toward the floor in a “u” shaped arch. This is the “cow” pose (above).

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As you exhale, lower your head and arch your back upward as though you’re trying to touch the ceiling with the center of your back. This is the “cat” pose (above).

Gently transition between these two positions.

2. Cobra

Safety Level: 8

*It’s important that you not over-extend your spine in this pose. Do not push through pain.

Time: 15-30 Seconds

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Lie on the floor, face down, legs stretched behind you, with your palms under your shoulders. Your elbows should be tucked into your sides and the tops of your feet flat on the floor. You should not be on your toes.

Your thighs and hips should also remain flat.

As you inhale, straighten your arms and lift your chest. Make sure to keep your neck long and away from your shoulders. Do not hyper-extend and stop if you feel pain.

Gaze upward for some extra stretch in the neck.

3. Child’s Pose

Safety Level: 10

Time: 1-3 Minutes

Yoga female child's pose

People do all kinds of dangerous things to stretch their lower backs. Standing and twisting is one of the worst.

Read 7 activities to avoid when your lower back hurts.

Child’s pose is my favorite way to relax the spine because it’s easy and safe. It will lengthen the vertebral joints and gently ease lower back tension.

Kneel on the floor or a yoga mat, knees hip width apart, feet together. Take a deep breath and as you exhale slowly, lean forward and rest your forehead on the ground with your arms extended out in front of you.

As you breathe, let your body relax.

4. Bridge Pose

Safety Level: 9

*Take caution if you suffer from neck or shoulder pain.

Time: 15 Seconds – 1 Minute

Yoga female bridge pose

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat, and exhale as you lift your hips toward the ceiling. Do not squeeze your glutes.

Now roll your shoulders underneath your body and clasp your hands together. Straighten your arms as much as possible reaching your knuckles toward your heels.

To release, unclasp your hands and place your palms on the floor, and exhale as you roll your spine along the floor vertebra by vertebra from your shoulders to your hips.

5. Downward Dog

Safety Level: 8

*Take caution if you suffer from shoulder or wrist pain.

Time: 15 Seconds – 1 Minute

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Begin on your hands and knees. Exhale and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up and back and begin to straighten your legs. Do not lock your knees and do not walk your feet closer to your hands.

Press the floor away from you as you lift your pelvis upward and lengthen your spine. Your weight should be distributed evenly between your heels and palms.

Draw your chest toward your thighs as you lengthen and decompress your spine. Relax your head but do not let it hang.

To release, exhale and bend your knees back to the floor.

I hope you can see why simply stretching like people do in the gym is not as effective as these yoga poses for spinal health.

6. Warrior Pose

Safety Level: 10

Time: Up to 1 Minute

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Begin standing in a neutral position. Step your left foot forward into a lunge and swing both arms above your head. Reach toward the ceiling as you squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your chin.

Hold up to one minute and repeat on the opposite side.

7. Garland Pose

Safety Level: 7

*Go into this pose very slowly if you have hip, knee, or lower back issues.

Time: 15 Seconds – 1 Minute

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Begin standing with feet about 1.5 shoulder widths apart. Bend your knees, let your thighs spread out, and lower your hips into a squat. Lean forward slightly and press your elbows into your knees to open your pelvis.

Keep your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed. Hold.

8. Extended Triangle

Safety Level: 7

*Be very careful if you suffer from lower back or hip problems.

Time:

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This pose has a few steps that are confusing to explain in writing, so here is a YouTube video that will demonstrate.

9. Plank

Safety Level: 9

Time: 30 Seconds – 1 Minute

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Planks are one of the best ways to build core strength that won’t stress your lower back like crunches or sit-ups will.

Begin in a push-up position, hands under your shoulders, neck long, spine straight as a “plank.” You can hold this position or lower yourself onto your elbows if you have shoulder or wrist problems.

Make sure your thighs, glutes, and abs are engaged, and don’t let your shoulder blades drop. Keep your spine and hips lifted.

The plank can also be practiced on your knees (rather than your toes) as you build strength.

10. Half Lord of the Fishes

Safety Level: 8

*Be careful while twisting during this pose. Do not stretch past the point of comfort.

Time: 30 Seconds – 1 Minute

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Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your knees, place your feet on the floor, and slide your right foot under your left leg. Now step your left foot over your right leg.

Exhale, sit up tall, and twist to your left. Place your left hand on the floor beside you and use your right hand to hug your left knee to your body. You can turn your head to either side and hold.

Twist a little more with each exhalation (as long as doing so is comfortable). Repeat in the opposite direction.

Yoga Poses For Spinal Health: A Final Word

Tight spinal muscles are often protective and therefore should not be forced to release either with manual therapies or stretching. Doing so can have the opposite effect and cause muscles to spasm more strongly later.

The purpose of these poses is to increase mobility and flexibility of spinal joints, not necessarily to stretch tight muscles.

The spine needs proper movement to stay healthy, so improving mobility with yoga can allow the protective muscle tightness to release naturally.

To put it simply: Don’t force it. Gentle and regular practice of these poses, even when pain is absent, will go a long way to maintaining spinal health and preventing pain flair-ups.

Our Chiropractor Recommends These 10 Yoga Poses For Spinal Health