3 Poses to Strengthen the Lower Back and Lift the Chest whilst Paddling

Emma Lovick

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Wow can you believe it’s August already! This month we are going to look at 3 Yoga poses which will help to strengthen your lower back and help to keep your chest lifted whilst paddling. We waste a lot of energy through paddling, having a strong back helps to make your paddling stronger and more effective.

As I have mentioned previously, as you work through the below postures please work to a level that is suitable to you. If you can, nothing beats practicing Yoga under the guidance of a teacher, and lastly, if you are in any doubt whether these poses are appropriate for you, consult your local Yoga teacher, doctor or physiotherapist.

Reminder, breathing technique–Sitting on your mat or the floor, inhale into the rib cage, expanding the chest. As you exhale draw your belly in. Focus on the breath whilst working in the postures; try not to hold your breath, move with your breath.

Pose 1 – Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

Why?

• Strengthens the lower back muscles, the muscles running either side of the spine
• Strengthens the buttocks, and legs
• Opens and stretches the shoulders and chest
• Helps to improves posture

How?

1.Lying on your tummy draw your arms alongside your torso with the palms facing up and head resting on the mat.
2. Turn your big toes towards each other and feel your thighs rotating inwardly.
3. Firm your buttocks, and with an exhale lift your head off the mat followed by your chest, arms and finally lifting the legs. Lengthen and stretch through the toes.
4. Working with the breath continue to raise your arms encouraging the shoulders and chest to lift further off the mat.
5. Keep the head neutral, chin down to allow for length through the spine into the neck.
5. Breath here for 15 seconds and release with an exhalation. Repeat up to 5 times.

Variation:
From Salabhasana play around with this pose, inhale extending one arm in front of you, exhale release back to the torso, inhale repeat.

Pose 2: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Why?
• Strengthens your back muscles and arms
• Increases the flexibility of your spine
• Stretches and opens your chest, shoulders, lungs, and abdomen
• Strengthens the buttocks

How?
1. Lying on your tummy, place your hands under your shoulders drawing the elbows close in towards the body.
2. Inhale and slowly press into your hands, lengthening the arms, drawing the chest up.
3. Allow your tailbone to draw under and your pubic bone to lift towards your navel slightly, keep the pubic bone on the mat. Do not extend your arms fully if you feel pressure in the lower back.
4. Draw the shoulders back and check forward keeping the elbows tucked in to the ribcage.
5. Ensure you are feeling the back muscles working rather than just the arms. Also attempt to release the buttock muscles in the pose, releasing pressure in the lower back and allowing the back muscles to strengthen.
6. Breath in the pose for up to 10 seconds and if you are familiar with the pose, exhale and draw back into Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog (described in article 1 - 5 Yoga Poses Every Surfer Should Know)

Modifications: Please be careful if you have any lower back issues, and if you are unsure whether to practice this pose please ask your physic, trainer or doctor. There are options; rest with your elbows on the floor under your shoulders or keep the elbows bent and hold for only two to three breaths.

Pose 3: Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

Why?

• Stretches your chest, neck, spine and hips
• Strengthens your back, buttocks, and hamstrings
• Reduces back ache

How?

1. Lying on your back on the floor, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart behind the buttocks (directly under the knees). Allow the palms of the hands to rest on the floor beside the torso.
2. Exhale and contract your abdominals, feeling the belly draw in, and move the tail bone under towards the pubic bone, tilting the pelvis and lifting your hips off the mat.
3. Inhale and lift the hips and lower back off the mat, pressing into the soles of the feet.
4. Continue to lift the upper back and chest, roll the shoulders under, lifting onto the back of the shoulders, protecting the neck.
5. Breathe in this pose holding for up to 20 seconds. Exhale release down by moving the shoulders and rolling the spine down onto the mat from the shoulders to the hips. Repeat this up to 5 times and then hug your knees gently towards the chest and rock from side to side.

Emma Lovick from Hang Ten Yoga is a certified instructor and specialises in teaching Yoga to surfers in South Devon. She looks closely at the breath, alignment, strengthening, opening and increased flexibility, reducing the potential for injury. Emma also teaches SUP Yoga in Devon throughout the summer, so you never have to be off the water!

You can follow Hang Ten Yoga on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter or even better join Emma and Hang Ten Yoga for a Surf, SUP & Yoga retreat in Devon or Cornwall, check out www.rideonretreats.com/cornwall for more information.


Emma Lovick

Yoga Instructor