Day 4 – Spine
Healthy Spine, Healthy Body.
This first level is the beginner’s level and if you’re feeling like this is easy, feel free to move on to intermediate or advanced. Our first exercise is a standing back bend and this is something that nobody does enough of, so I’m going to have you put a block between your thighs, if you don’t have a block you can hold a pillow or something like that between your legs and feet are about six inches apart, clenching the block tightly between your legs and that’s going to help with engaging your thighs and engaging your core. It’s very important that we’re working on the spine to keep your abdominal wall tight, that doesn’t mean squeezing to the point where you can’t breathe but it does mean squeezing those muscles and reaching that tailbone down. So I want to have a neutral spine and it’s for my back is not like this I am going to have a neutral spine by reaching the tail bone down, tightening the glutes and squeezing the thighs toward one another. First step of the standing back bend, we’re going bring the arms straight up and I don’t even want you to think about a back bend, all I want you to do as look up toward the ceiling. So the fingertips are pressing up, we’re pushing down through our feet, we’re pulling the ribs up away from the hips, we’re keeping the hips above the ankles, we’re not letting the hips go back like this and arching the back, we’re keeping the hips above the ankles, keeping the hips, the core, the legs engaged and you almost want to point your sternum up toward the ceiling. Arms are pressing up and lightly squeezing back, now this is important take a closer look at your neck, make sure that you’re not allowing your head to just fall back behind you, you want to keep the head pressing up and the back of your neck long so we’re not allowing the neck to collapse, we’re keeping the neck lifted so that you strengthen the muscles in the back of your neck. This is something that we’re going to do for thirty, forty-five or even sixty seconds, this is something that I do every morning when I walk my dogs outside and it has helped me a lot with better posture, it helps with getting your back more active, it helps with getting your core more active, and it helps you increase your energy, so a lot of great things come from this. You should feel your abs starting to shake as you’re lifting your chest up, you should still feel your legs working and you also feel the muscles in your back working, mainly in the upper back if we’re doing a back bend to shallow standing back bend like this and especially in the neck. Okay go ahead and relax, so that’s the first exercise just a simple standing back bend, very effective but it can be very challenging to the body as well, so that’s going to work on your core strength, that’s going to work on your spine strength, that’s working on spinal building, so working on your ability to back bend for the standing back bend you want to do that for thirty seconds and work your way up to sixty seconds. I would do that a minimum of twice per day, maybe once in the morning and once mid day, you could do that three times if you want or you could do it whenever you feel like you need a little bit of a break, if you’ve been sitting a lot you just get up and just do that back bend and it’s going to feel awesome, it’s going to help make your back feel much better as well because we’re countering that seated kind of rounding position that we tend to do. So if we can get our body into the opposite position of where it usually is that will help create balance in the body and that makes things feel good.
All right next posture we’re going to do is a reclined twist, so this is on your back and I mentioned that twisting is one of those things that your spine should be able to do. So for this is going to lie to your back bring your knees over your hips and we’re just going to go side to side, so we’ll bring the legs over to the right and then back to the middle, inhaling to the left, exhaling back to the middle. Now as you’re doing this, you want to keep your shoulders on the ground, don’t allow your shoulders lift off the ground and you want to use your core strength to squeeze your abs back to the middle. So tightening your abs to bring them back in the middle this is creating space in your spine, this is strengthening your abs and your spine and so this is very important because we don’t do a lot of twisting during the day, now you’ll feel that your abs are working as well the truth is that your abs and your spine or one in the same, if you can strengthen your abs, you strengthen your spine so yes we’re targeting the spine here but we’re also strengthening the abs at the same time. So for this exercise I would do a minimum of five and up to ten, you can even go up to twenty if you want to back and forth like this so five each side and moving slow and controlled, so notice that I’m not just throwing my legs back and forth but I’m inhaling to the outside and exhaling back to the middle. So you can make this is slow as your breath I would try to make a four count or a five count. So inhaling out four, exhaling back four, just like that. So there’s your reclined twist and that is the second exercise for strengthening your spine and improving spinal mobility.
The next exercise you’re going to do is a cobra and this is one of the most important exercises if not the most important exercises for strengthening your spine. So for this lesson we’re going to do what’s called a baby cobra but there’s really nothing baby about this, it’s just a name. I’m going to have you lie down flat on your chest and we’re going to just relax your chin on your hands because there’s a lot we need to do with the legs in order to make sure that the spine is doing what needs to do. First part is lift your legs, lift one leg at a time, point the toes, internally rotate your thighs, you knees faces straight down, go ahead set that leg down do the same thing with the opposite leg. Left leg comes up, point the toes, internally rotate the thigh and set it back down now from here squeeze your toes, your feet, your ankles, your thighs and your knees toward one another this is going to turn on your abdominal muscles, turning on your core and that’s going to protect your spine in the cobra and then from here tighten your abs, bring your hands under your shoulders and then lift your chest one inch away from the ground and look slightly forward this is it, this is cobra. So when we’re doing cobra, we want to focus on squeezing the legs toward one another, tightening the abs, pulling that chest forward so I’m actually getting length more so than height and then squeeze in the elbows toward the hips, this is it, this is Cobra, we’re going to hold this one for twenty seconds maybe thirty seconds, you don’t need to hold this one this long and it’s really tough because it takes a lot of leg and core endurance to do and then go ahead and release back down put your head at the ground and then come back up into a tabletop position, like so.
All right so those are your three exercises that last one baby cobra, I recommend doing that for twenty seconds, thirty seconds and you can do that twice per day again with the back bending I recommend doing that in the morning and then some time in the afternoon and maybe early evening, you don’t want to be doing backbends later at night because that will actually keep you awake, that will activate your flight or fight response and so we don’t we want to avoid doing that late at night because that will negatively impact your sleep. So those are my three exercises for strengthening your spine, those are the beginner level, feel free to move on to the intermediate or advanced levels as you progress. I’ve also included some of my favorite workouts for strengthening your spine and working on spine mobility below here, so if you like what you saw in this lesson if this felt good, if you really noticed your spine working, if you noticed your core working and you feel a little bit more open, maybe a little bit less stiff, more mobile, more fluid that’s a good sign that these are some types of exercises you should be working on to improve your fitness. So if this felt good I’ve got those lessons that I’ve selected below for working on spinal mobility, working on spinal strength. To access those simply sign up for the one dollar trial that gets you seven days of access and then click on any of those links below once you log in and you’ll be able to view those workouts and that’ll happen within takes about a minute, two minutes to sign up those, workouts in just a couple of minutes once you sign up. All right guys thanks for joining me on the fourth lesson, spinal strength the mobility from my free intro to Man Flow Yoga, we only got three days left in the intro, in the free intro to Man Flow Yoga, so hopefully at this point you’re thinking you know is this stuff good? Do I really want to keep doing this? Hopefully you’re noticing the benefits in your body something that’s really cool about yoga is that it doesn’t take long for you to notice the improvement in how you’re feeling so you know as far as changes in your body go you probably have to spend about a month doing this stuff but as far as how you feel you will notice these benefits instantly right you’ll feel better immediately after doing the work out so I hope you sign up, I hope you join the Man Flow Yoga community. Again it’s just one dollar to join and try out everything and that’s at the link below, just click sign up now and share information and you’ll be viewing all of the content, the workout programs, the tutorials and interacting with the community in just a few minutes. So thanks for joining me for today’s lesson, I will see you tomorrow for lesson number five.
So let’s get into the exercises and this is the intermediate portion so if you feel like these are too easy or maybe too hard you can move down to beginner or advanced accordingly. All right let’s get into it so the first we’re going to do is a standing back bend and this is the same one for beginner but it’s as hard as you want to make it and it’s super effective so for this I’m going to have you put the block between your thighs and if it some point you get familiar with the block enough that you don’t need it that’s fine but block goes between your thighs, you want to hug the block push down through your feet, tighten your glutes slightly so just pressure hips forward just a little bit and actually I want to show you what’s going on in the spine here because I’m not arching my back okay, I’m lightly pressing my hips forward, by getting my spine neutral but you notice that there’s not an arch to my lower back, I’m not doing this right. So the glutes engage pressing the hips forward, my abs tighten and now I’ve got a nice neutral spine. From here we’re going to reach the arm straight up, turn your palms backwards this is going to add a level of difficulty to this and then I want you to lift your sternum up toward the ceiling, so we’re getting as long as tall as we can pressing the forehead toward the ceiling, keeping the neck lifted, keeping the neck along and then bringing the arms up now from here we’re going to go through a system of inhaling up and exhaling back. So as you inhale, I’m getting taller. As I’m exhaling I’m leaning back a little bit more. Again inhaling up and exhaling back, so all the while I’m still keeping my legs firmly engaged, I’m still squeezing the block, I’m still keeping my glutes a little engaged, my abs are very tight here and you can see that I’m shaking from the effort and I’m keeping my neck lifted, I’m not allowing my head to just fall back so this is strengthening not just your spine, your neck but also your core and your legs. So I want to hold this for forty-five to sixty seconds and that’s a long time, well that’s good because we don’t spend a lot of time in this extended position of our spine, so this is very good for countering sitting at a desk, this is very good for countering text neck, which refers to when you spend too much time on your phone and that’s very good for your spine in core. So in sixty seconds here continuing lifting up and then going back, go ahead and release, so that’s the first exercise, the standing back bend and again that’s extremely important for your spine that is one of the most important things you can do for strengthening the spine and something that almost none of us do even those of us who exercise rarely do this exercise where rarely do a back bend like that.
All right next one, we’re going to be doing a low lunge with a twist. So we’re going to start in the lunge, let’s go to the left foot forward and the right knee back. Knee over the ankle the front foot leg, slightly squeezed toward one another, so my right knee squeezes forward, my left heel squeezes back, my ribs lift up and away from my hips, bring your arms straight out, palms face forward take a deep breath in and then exhale to twist and notice my hips aren’t changing at all here I’m just bringing my torso to face toward the left also my arms aren’t changing. So what you’re going to feel here, you’re going to feel the stretch to the front of your right hip or the back hip in this case, I’m going to feel my core working, I’m going to feel my spine working and I might even feel my upper back working if your upper back, if you don’t do a lot of back stuff holding your arms like this is going to be difficult. Now as you’re doing this I want you to keep in mind the hips stay facing straight forward the top your head lifts up as you breathe and notice I’m getting taller as I inhale and as I exhale, I’m going deeper into this twist. I’m using my core strength to hold this notice I don’t have my hands holding on to anything here so it’s all core making the twist happen, pressing your arms in opposite directions to help make the twist happen even more and you’re going to hold this for a minimum of thirty seconds and work your way up to sixty seconds. Go and relax make sure you do that both sides so that is the low lunge twist, that is awesome for working on strength in a twist and unlike other exercises we’re just holding it right so it’s an isometric exercise we’re not doing back and forth like this we’re just holding it and not allowing us to develop a deeper range of motion, more stability and more strength.
All right final exercise I’m going to show you is a cobra and this is probably the most important exercise for strengthening your spine, I am going to have you start on your chest and go and relax your hands on your chin, we’ve got a lot to do with the legs here. Lift the legs up, point your toes back and internally rotate the thighs, so both kneecaps are facing the ground and then notice that the tops of my toes are on the ground, so those are really active. Now I’m going to squeeze my legs together so the ankles push together, the knees press toward one another, my hips squeeze toward one another and then my core tightens as a result of that. So now I’ve got my legs and my core involved, my glutes are actually relaxed here, so tightening the abs, use your hands to pull your body forward so I want to press the top of my head forward as much as I can and then from there with the abs tight with the legs tight, I’m going to lift my chest up and look in front of me, squeeze your elbows back so you’re engaging your back the goal here is to make your chest as big as possible, make your body as long as possible and strengthen your entire body so the legs are active, my core is active, my arms are active, my chest is active and even my neck is active, I’m pressing my head up and even squeezing my head back but I’m keeping leg at the same time so I’m not collapsing, I’m keeping length and keeping everything engaged to hold myself up and then go ahead and slowly relax down. So that is the cobra again, that’s a super difficult one but extremely effective and that’s the level to version I showed you so remember this is intermediate, you can move on to advanced or if that was too hard move down a beginner and rebuild the foundation. So that last exercise cobra, minimum of twenty seconds there and you can work your way up to forty-five seconds. Remember you want to keep the legs engaged the whole time, so don’t let your knees relax to the ground, don’t let your feet lift off the ground and that’s one that I would do twice per day.
Regarding the other ones, so we had the low lunge with the twist I would do that twice a day as well, once in the morning, once in the afternoon maybe in the evening in the early evening after you’ve finished work. The standing back bend I do that every morning and that’s something I recommend you do as well, helps with energy, helps with turning your spine and turning your core on helps with better posture and it’s also great for breaking up a seated position or kind of breaking up the work day so if you spend even if you stand up for work right you’re probably doing something like this and if you’re sitting you’re definitely in a round of position, so that standing back bend gets you into the opposite position working on getting your chest open and strengthening your back. So that your plan moving forward for the standing back bend, thirty to sixty seconds and again twice a day in the morning and then afternoon, maybe early evening. So that’s your plan moving forward, I’ve also included some workout some intermediate workouts below this with my favorite workouts focusing on spinal strength and mobility, so if you worked on these exercises a day and they felt good or maybe they were really hard, that’s a good indication that this is something you need to work on, that’s a good indication that this is something your body is in the cost and the doing and when you find something like that that means that there’s a ton of potential for you to get stronger and get better at everything else that you’re doing so my first yoga class kicked my butt, I was horrible but it was great because I realized that I had so many ways that I could work on my fitness and that’s what I want you to approach this as too, as an opportunity to get stronger.
So to access those workouts just sign up for the one dollar, seven day access, the seven day trial and then come back to this page click on those buttons, click on those workouts and you’ll be able to view those workouts within just a few minutes of signing up. We are coming close to the end of this free intro, we’ve only got three lessons left so hopefully at this point you’re thinking about taking the next step and getting the membership signing up for the Man Flow Yoga members area getting access to all of that content to tutorials, the workout programs, the workouts, diet nutrition information, and of course an awesome community of people dedicated to improving their fitness through yoga. So it’s just one dollar, it’s a seven day trial, you can try it out get access to everything and if you don’t like it just send me an e-mail saying, hey this wasn’t what I was expected, this wasn’t what I expected, I don’t want to continue and then I will gladly cancel it and that’s it but it’s just a dollar to try it out so you’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain, sign up today, there’s a link below that just sign up otherwise I’m looking forward to seeing you on the next three lessons. Tomorrow is day five, thanks for joining me, make sure you share this with someone if you’re finding this intro beneficial, if you’re finding this free intro useful and again I look forward to seeing you on the next lesson.
So the first exercise I’m going to show you is a standing back bend and this is one of the most important exercise you can do for your spine, it’s something that I do every day when I wake up and I want you to be able to see what I’m doing with my spine here because that’s important to avoid hurting your spine as you do this. I’ve seen tons of people who are advanced fitness, enthusiast whatever you want to call them who do this move incorrectly, so pay close attention. We’re going start with a block between the thighs, if you don’t have a block, you can put a pillow or something that you can squeeze between your thighs, that’s going to help with proper proper hip engagement, proper inner thigh engagement and help with proper core engagement. So we’re pushing down through the feet, we are tightening the glutes slightly, in turn a slight internal motivation to the thighs so the block goes slightly back and then maybe reaching the tailbone down just a little bit so if you look at my back now, it is flat right. I’m not arching my back, there’s no tension in my lower back, my spine is flat so that’s the first part of this and now getting as tall as you can we’re going to lift the arms up, interlace your fingers, point the index fingers up and then breathe in look up and then exhale squeeze your arms back. As you’re doing this you want to maintain maximum height, maximum length in your body so I’m pushing my forehead toward the ceiling and I’m keeping length in my neck, I’m not allowing the head to just fall back, so I’m keeping length in my neck and this is the constant pull between going up in the inhale and going deeper with the exhale, so I’m getting longer and then I’m getting more depth. If you want to open up the arms you can also do that, now what I’m going to feel here, I’m feeling my legs engaged, I’m feeling my abs really working because those are stabilizing my spine, those are making sure that I’m not putting too much pressure on the spine and I’m using my abs to support that and then I’m also going to feel my upper back and my neck working to hold me up and in particular this is difficult for us because we spend so much of the day in the opposite position, we don’t look up like this and so these muscles are weak and it’s important to do this to help strengthen your upper back and your neck, so there’s no pain there. So we’re going to hold this for sixty seconds and that seems like a long time and you might start to shake, you might get tired, your breathing might increase and that’s all fine. Remember working on getting deeper as we’re holding this, so constantly going up and then going back all right go ahead and relax, whew that was tough. So again that’s a standing back bend, you’re going to do that this is advanced, so you’re going to do that for sixty seconds and I want you doing that twice a day, first thing in the morning, doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning but in the morning probably within a couple of hours of waking up and then again in the afternoon so maybe before you do lunch, maybe after lunch, maybe just when you start to feel those energy levels starting to decline that’s a good time to do the standing back bend and do that twice a day against sixty seconds.
Next exercise I want to show you is a runner’s lunge twist, so I’m going to teach you how to use your spine right, how to twist while you’re doing another movement, another functional movement. So for this you’re going to need to block and then I’m going to have you step the left foot up and set the right leg back into a lunge, your knee is over the ankle the front foot, we’re squeezing the legs toward one another and the spine, the chest is long, I’m not folding here like this, I’m also not arching, I’m right in the middle, so I’m at a neutral spine position, left it presses down again the hips are really firm here right hand goes on to the block and then from here on a stick my left arm straight out to the side and then reach the left arm up, open up my shoulders, open up my chest to the left keeping my hips the same so don’t let your hips poke out to the left we’re going to keep those in toward the middle and then look toward your left hand, press your head and your neck away from your hips and twist deeper and keep the left arm lifted. Now if you want to go more intense from here you can lift your hand away from the block entirely and then hold this position. So this is working on your core and your spine strength helping to improve your ability to twist and because we’re holding this, we’re able to work deeper into it and we’re developing more strength, more stability than if we were just do reps, right so we’re going to hold this for thirty seconds, maybe work our way up to sixty seconds and then do this twice per day. So when you’re doing this, it’s all core you’re feeling spine and of course there’s a lot going on in the legs because you’re holding up your body weight with your legs, you don’t want to rely on the block to hold up your body, so if you feel like you’re putting weight into the block, lift up on your fingertips instead and that way you’ll use your core more, like so. So that’s when we’re going to do, again twice a day start at thirty seconds make your way up to sixty seconds, do it in the morning and then maybe in the afternoon or in the early evening, once work is done and you’re getting up and are actually moving again.
All right next exercise I’m going to show you is the cobra and then a move beyond cobra, so this is advanced, got to make it tough. So for cobra, we’re going to lay down flat on your chest, cobra is a full body exercise, not just spine, not just core, full body we’re going to start by lifting your right leg up, pointing the toes and then internally rotating the thighs, so the top of the knee faces down, same thing with the other leg, life the left leg, point the toes, make your leg as long as you can and then internally rotate the thigh, both kneecaps are facing down, all ten toes are flat on the floor, now from here are going to squeeze my ankles together, squeeze my knees toward one another, tighten my thighs, squeeze my abs and I want to use my hands to pull my body forward to get some length. So first just like the back, like the standing back bend, I’m going to get lengthen my body and then I’m going to get lift. So I’m lifting off the ground, squeezing my elbows toward my hips, pushing my head away from my body, feeling my legs, my core, my back, my shoulders, my neck, everything is working here and you’re squeezing the abs to protect your spine. Now lift your hands up, you should still be able to stay up high here, it shouldn’t be affected by your hands and if I’m here I want you to extend your arms back lift up even more try to squeeze your elbows to touch and then lift your legs and point the toes so moving into a full locus here and we can hold this for twenty seconds, maybe thirty seconds but it’s tough, constant engagement in the legs, never letting the legs relax, never letting the core relax and then releasing down. So, as you’re doing that one, you shouldn’t have pain in your lower back, if you’re feeling pain your lower back that means that you need to use your core more, means you need to use your abs more means, means you need to use your legs more. So that exercise is very difficult but it is extremely effective for your spine, for your core, for your entire body. So for that one for the cobra to full locust, I’m going to have you do that for thirty seconds and maybe up to forty-five seconds, thirty seconds is plenty for that exercise, you will get the benefits of that posture in just thirty seconds of doing it but if you want to test your endurance and get stronger work your way up to forty-five seconds. Again just like the standing back bend I’m going to have you do that in the morning, in the early afternoon and then in the early evening, you don’t need to do it late at night when you’re about to go to bed because it’s going to wake up your body, it’s going to make you want to stay up, it does activate your fight or flight reflex so yeah you’re not going to do that late at night but as far as giving energy, as far as preparing your body for a workout or countering a seated position it is wonderful for that.
So to continue to work on these exercises I’ve included some of my favorite advanced workouts, my intermediate advanced workouts from the Man Flow Yoga workout library, below so if you want to get to those workouts one dollar that just seven days access and then be able to click on those links and learn more and continue to work on back bending on spinal mobility on spinal strength. If you did the workout today and you felt like this was difficult or you felt like your body didn’t really like it, that’s a good indication that this is something you can use to get stronger. So when I first did my first yoga class, it was really hard for me but I enjoyed it because I knew that I was going to get way stronger from it so if you encounter something you can’t do that means that there’s a lot of room for growth and that means that you can get stronger by doing it. So again if you found this stuff difficult keep doing it, again we got those workouts below here to sign up just click the sign up button and it’s just one dollar for seven days of access that gets you unlimited access to all of my content, workouts, my programs, tutorials and of course the Man Flow Yoga community, which is a really awesome group of people just like you dedicated to improving their fitness through yoga. Hope you found this lesson beneficial, if you’re enjoying these lessons feel free to share them with a friend, that would be awesome and the more people we can get doing this the better we can make everybody feel, the better health we can get everybody in and so tomorrow we’ve got lesson number five which means we just got three lessons left. So again hopefully you’re getting to that point where you’re thinking, okay I think this is something I want to do, so again sign up for that Man Flow Yoga seven day trial and it’s just one dollar and it gets you unlimited access, thanks for joining me for today’s lesson and I will see you tomorrow for lesson number five.
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