Aside from being a massage therapist, I enjoy going to yoga class where I can stretch out after a good run or a tough workout or have time to unwind. This is why I was glad to hear that massage and yoga can exist together in perfect harmony. While massage relaxes the muscles and mind, yoga teaches you how to breathe which is important in not just your yoga workout but any workout or even when you’re just running errands outside. However, you can still breathe properly and still feel like you’re wound up like a pretzel which is why it’s important to stretch.
Now the mere thought of yoga might scare some people but I can insure you that these are gentle stretches that you can casually and gradually work into your routine to stretch out painful to tense muscles. Yoga and massage challenges the body but your mind is so relaxed that you may anticipate looking forward to these stretches every week. Hopefully!
The following three stretches will help provide relief from tension in your upper back: Cat, Child and Side Stretch.
Kneel on all fours, knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Spread the fingers out on the floor with palms flat and contract the abs to bring the head, neck and back in alignment. Inhale and tip the hips towards the ceiling while drawing the shoulders back and down away from your ears; look up. Exhale and tuck the chin while pulling your belly towards your spine. Round the back and feel a stretch down your spine. Repeat for 4 to 6 breaths, moving smoothly between each move.
Child’s Pose (Great transitioning pose or if you practice yoga regularly, great to come into when you need to unwind from a challenging pose)
From the Cat Stretch, sit back on your heels and bring your arms down along your body, palms facing up. Relax and breath for as long as you like.
Side Stretch: While in Child’s Pose, place your right hand next to the chest, elbow bent and stretch your left arm up over your head, palm resting on the floor, keeping your hips straight. Turn your head and look under your arm, feeling a stretch down the left side of your back. Hold for 3 or more breaths and switch sides.
These three poses will help center your breathing and coordinate your breath through the moments. It is our breath that propels us throughout the stretch especially in immediate and advanced yoga.
Stretches the neck, spine and torso
To prevent injury, keep your head in line with your torso.