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Upper Back Opening Sequence

A sequence to help open up and release the upper back.

Contents

Introduction

Pixie has put together a sequence to help release tension in the upper back, and open up for fluid movement of the body. Beginning with forward bends and arm work with namaskar and gomukhasana, and working up to opening the upper back and shoulders with bharadvajasana and chatushpadasana.

View sequence

Supta Baddhakonasana
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
3 minutes
Join your feet together, your heels pressed to your pelvis. Lie back over a bolster or other form of support. Relax and let your chest open. If necessary, use a strap to hold your feet in place.
Simple Cross Legs Forward
30 seconds per side
Sit with your legs crossed. Keep your sit-bones pointing down as you stretch your arms forward to capacity, lengthening your spine.
Half Uttanasana
Half Forward Bend
30 seconds
Stand in front of a wall. Keeping your back and legs straight, tip from your pelvis until your chest is parallel to the ground. Push your hands into the wall and stretch your hips backwards.
Headstand Preparation with Blocks
Headstand Preparation
5-6 breaths
Place your forearms flat on the floor next to a wall and interlock your fingers behind the back of your skull. Keeping your head on the floor and your back straight, start to walk your feet closer toward your trunk. Straighten your back and pull your hips up to capacity. This can also be done with your feet to the wall.
Urdhva Baddanguliyasana
Upward Salute with Interlocked Fingers
5-6 breaths per side
Stretch your arms in front of you and interlock your fingers. Turn your palms inside out and lift your arms up overhead, making sure to keep your shoulders open. Change the interlock of your fingers and repeat.
Paschima Namaskar
Reverse Prayer Pose
5-8 breaths
Stand in Tadasana and spread your arms outward. Then bring your hands behind your back, join your palms together, and walk them up to capacity. If you lack wrist mobility, you can also simply grab hold of your elbows.
Gomukhasana Arms
Cow Face Pose
5-8 breaths per side
Extend your left arm up and the right one down. Bend your elbows and reach your hands toward each other from behind. If clasping them is not possible, use a belt or strap. Pull your elbows in opposite directions. Repeat on both sides.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
45 seconds
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body while lifting your hips up as high off the ground as possible. If necessary, bend your knees a little but stay strong in the legs.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana
Handstand
30 seconds
Open your hands into the floor and strengthen your arms as you lift your body up, one leg at a time, into an inverted balance. Use the wall for support if necessary. If pushing yourself up proves to be too difficult, you can walk your feet up the wall.
Bharadvajasana I
Bharadvaja's Twist
4-5 breaths each side
Bring your legs to one side. Place one hand on the knee - this will help you deepen the twist. The other hand can be placed on the floor, helping you twist even deeper. Alternatively, you can bring it behind your back until it joins the elbow of the other arm. Stretch upwards through the crown of your head.
Utthita Marichyasana
Extended Sage Marichi Pose
4-5 breaths each side
Place your feet parallel to the wall. Lift the leg closest to the wall up and place your foot on a chair. Twist your chest towards the wall and use your hand as leverage to go deeper into the twist.
Chatushpadasana
Four-Footed Pose
5 breaths
Lie down with your knees bent so that your feet are close to your buttocks. Grab onto your ankles and lift your hips up above the ground. Open your chest up and breathe.
Simple Cross Legs Forward
45 seconds per side
Sit with your legs crossed. Keep your sit-bones pointing down as you stretch your arms forward to capacity, lengthening your spine.
Lying Back Over Bricks Step 1
1 minute
Place support under your back and bend your legs. Your aim is to open and lift your chest as much as possible, so prepare extra blankets or bolsters.
Lying Back Over Bricks Step 2
1.5 minutes
Place support under your back and lie down with your legs bent.
Lying Back Over Bricks Step 3
1.5 minutes
Place support under your upper body, buttocks, and thighs. Lie down and breathe.
Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Supported Bridge Pose
2 minutes
Lie down over support placed under the whole of your body from the thoracic spine down to your knees. The shoulders swoop down to touch the floor. Spread your arms outward or slightly at your side. Activate your feet and press them into the wall.
Simple Cross Legs Forward
45 seconds per side
Sit with your legs crossed. Keep your sit-bones pointing down as you stretch your arms forward to capacity, lengthening your spine.
Savasana
Corpse Pose
5-10 minutes
Lie down on the floor. Spread your arms and legs slightly at your side. Relax and concentrate on your breath.