Yoga for the spine

The human spine is one of the most impressive constructions of nature. Through its special shape and the brilliant connection of its components it does not only have a wide range of motion but enables us to stand up tall.  In Yoga the spine has a very special meaning since asanas have an great impact on the physical, psychological and energetic body. Therefor our spine can literally change our outer and inner posture!

The human spine consists of 24 flexible vertrebraes: 7 in the neck (cervicals), 12 in the chest area (thoracic) and 5 in the lower back (lumbar). Additional there are sacrum and tailbone which are connected with each other through their bony structure. The natural s-curve of the spine is called kyphosis and protects the single vertrebraes from pressure caused by shaking movements, gravitiy and other weight-bearing strains.

Additionally the discs placed between the vertebraes are helping to support the bone construct. Like cushions filled with water they absorb stacks and frictions . In Yoga twisting poses such as Ardha Matsyendrasana stimulate production of the so-called synovial fluid.

Not all parts of the spine are equally mobile but in general its flexibility is  the basic requirement for a healthy back and a strong spinal column.

The complex poses in Yoga provide a better mobility of the vertebraes while strengthening the deep muscles which are responsible for the support of the bones and the spinal erection in general.

In Yoga science the spinal column does not only serve a physical but also an energetic purpose. Kundalini yogis visualize the energy centering at the end of the pelvic floor like a convolved snake. Stimulating movements raise the energy up through the main energy channel (Sushumna) which extends all the way up the spine ending in the higher consciousness.

Following asanas release muscular and energetic impulses resulting in a long and healthy spine.


Ardha Chandrasana – Half Moon Pose

spinestretch halfmoon

Start in an upright stand.

Inhale: Straighten your arms above the head and interlock your fingers.

Exhale: Bend to the side maintaining your core engaged end the arms long.

Inhale: Come back to center.

Exhale: Bend to the other side.

Repeat a few times following your breath.

Then hold on each side for at least three deep breaths.

Maintain your deep core muscles engaged by pulling your navel in and up. Press the outer edge of your opposite foot deeply into the mat while bending the spine to one side.

Feel the space opening up between the ribs while inhaling deeply before you switch sides.


Marjaryasana – Cat / Cow


Start in Table Top Position (Hands in one line with the shoulders, knees underneath your hips).

Inhale: Sink your chest down to the mat. Gaze upon the ceiling.

Exhale: Slowly round your spine and gaze towards your navel.

Repeat this movement a few times following your breaths. Try to move each vertrebrae on its own while maintaining the core muscles engaged.


Balasana – Childs Pose


From Table Top Position bring  your pelvis all the way back to the heels.

Straighten your arms and breathe deeply in order to feel the stretch of your back.


Downward Facing Dog / Plank Pose


From Childs Pose slowly raise up into Downward Facing Dog.

Inhale: Roll yourself like a wave through pushing the weight of your body into your hands until you end up in a plank pose.

Exhale: Push your weight back into the heels coming into Downward Facing Dog again.

Repeat this wavey movement a few times bringing as much mobility in your spine as possible.



Dhanurasana – Bow Pose


From Plank Pose come onto the belly.

Exhale: Grab both feet from the outside. Engage your core firmly pressing your pubis into the mat.

Inhale: Push the feet into your hands and lift the chest.

Maintain your core engaged while holding this pose for a couple of deep breaths.

Exhale: Slowly release the forehead to the floor and the arms to the sides of the body.

Stay for a few deep breaths to feel the effects of this intense backbend. As a counterpose you can come back into Childs Pose. This time keeping your arms to the side of the body so your shoulders can relax and your back is rounded.


Pashimottanasana – Seated Forbend


Start in a seated position.

Straighten both legs toes pointing towards you.

Inhale: Straighten your arms and lengthen the spine as much as you can.

Maintain the pelvis errected pushing your sit bones into the mat.

Exhale: Bend your upper body to the front and grab the outer edges of your feet. Alternatively you can place the palms next to your legs in the mat.

Let your head sink deeper with every exhalation and breathe deeply into the space of your back. Try to keep the lower part of your back long while rounding the upper part more and more.



Ardha Matsyendrasana – Seated Twist


Place the right foot at the outside of your thigh. Hug your knee in order to straighten the spine.

Inhale: Straighten your right arm lifting yourself up.

Exhale: Twist to the right and place the palm behind you. Maintain your pelvis grounded and the spine long.

Inhale: Lift your left arm straightening the spine once more.

Exhale: Hug in your knee with the left arm and pull yourself deeper into the twist,


Stay for five deep breaths. Maintain your spine straight and try to reach the whole spine with each breath.



Cover Photo:
Mittag, Martina (2018): Hatha Yoga – Das komplette Buch.
Aachen: Meyer & Meyer.

In stores May 2018.