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12 Rejuvenating Exercises To Stretch Your Back & Improve Your Posture


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mbg Associate Food & Health Editor

By Merrell Readman

mbg Associate Food & Health Editor

Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career.

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Good posture can make a world of difference in both how comfortable you feel in your own body and how confident you appear. How you hold yourself impacts the entire rest of your body, and if you have poor posture you may struggle more with neck and back, among other challenges. Luckily, those issues can be remedied by focusing on improving how you sit and stand.

Keeping your shoulders down and your back straight is easy advice to throw around, but if you need help stretching and strengthening that area of your body to naturally improve your posture, we have the perfect roundup of exercises for you. With 12 moves demonstrated by our favorite trainers, you’ll be standing tall and proud in no time!

1.
Locust Pose

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Demonstrated by Emily Chen.

Start on the mat, lying on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you.

With your hips pressing into the mat, point your toes and engage the legs, then lift up your feet slightly.

As you lift your feet, simultaneously lift your arms up in front of you. Keep everything engaged.

Hold here for 8 to 10 breaths, or as long as you need, then gently lower back down.

2.
Garland Pose

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Demonstrated by Emily Chen.

Begin standing with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, and the hands at heart center.

Bend your knees, pivot your toes out slightly, and slowly lower all the way down into a squat.

Bring your elbows inside your knees, keeping your hands in prayer.

With your arms as close to parallel to the floor as you can get them, use your elbows to gently press the knees open.

Keep your chest lifted, shoulder blades down and back, spine straight, and hips down toward the ground.

Hold for a few breaths and exit by standing back up.

3.
Puppy Pose

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Demonstrated by Phyllicia Bonanno.

From child’s pose or tabletop, bring your knees together.

Walk your fingertips forward and bring your chest onto the mat.

Allow your hips to lift high up toward the ceiling, opening up the chest and bending the back.

Hold for a few breaths before moving onto another pose.

4.
Bow Pose

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

Start by lying flat on your stomach.

Bring the soles of your feet to face the ceiling with feet and knees about hip-width apart. Reach and grab your ankles from the outside.

Take a deep breath. On the exhale, start to stretch your feet and legs toward the ceiling, opening up the chest.

Draw your shoulder blades down and back to help open the chest. Gaze forward.

With every inhale and exhale, stretch a little farther up.

Hold for 5 to 8 breaths. Slowly release, bringing your thighs back to the mat.

Repeat 1 or 2 more times if you wish.

5.
Reclining Butterfly Pose

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Demonstrated by Chen.

Come into a seated position on your mat, bring the soles of your feet together, and allow your knees to fall to either side.

Place a yoga block under your lower back and your head, and allow your body to lower down.

Let your arms relax overhead, and hold this position for as long as you need.

6.
Cobra Pose

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

Begin lying on your stomach.

Bring your hands underneath your shoulders. Pull your elbows in toward your body.

Keeping your elbows bent, press your feet, legs, and hips into the mat, and lift your chest up on an inhale.

Soften your shoulders down and back, allowing your chest to open up.

Exhale and slowly lower back down to the mat.

Repeat for five breaths, holding the position for a breath on the last round.

7.
Tree Pose

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

Start in a standing position.

Ground down through your left foot. Bend your right knee, and bring your right foot to your left ankle, the lower part of your leg, or your inner thigh (whatever you prefer and feels best).

Stretch your arms up to the sky, or bring hands to heart center.

Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and release.

Repeat on the opposite side.

8.
Upward Facing Dog

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

Start by lying on your stomach, flat on your mat.

With your hands under your shoulders, press through your palms and rise up on an inhale.

Press the tops of your feet into the mat, lifting your legs completely off the mat.

The only parts of your body touching the mat are your hands and the tops of your feet.

Hold for a couple of breaths, then slowly lower back down, or press up to downward-facing dog.

9.
Cat-Cow

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

Come to tabletop with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees.

Ground down through your palms.

As you inhale, tilt your tailbone up, drop your belly, and lift your gaze slightly up without bunching the back of the neck. (This is the “cow” half.)

As you exhale, tuck your tailbone, curl and round your spine, and bring your gaze toward your belly button. (This is the “cat” half.)

Repeat for at least three breaths.

10.
Seated Spinal Twist

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Demonstrated by Chen.

Come down to sit on your mat, crossing your legs.

Inhale your arms up to the sky. Take your right arm, place it on the mat behind you, and place your left hand on your left knee. Take a deep breath in.

As you exhale, twist the body, gazing over your left shoulder.

Hold for a couple of breaths, then come back to center. Repeat on the opposite side.

11.
Child’s Pose

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

From tabletop, sit back onto your heels with the toes together and the knees out wide.

Reach and extend your fingertips forward, allowing your chest to rest on your mat.

Lengthen from the hips up to the fingertips.

Breathe here for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.

12.
Seated Cactus Arms

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Demonstrated by Bonanno.

Start by sitting on your heels, with your hands on your thighs.

Inhale as you lift your arms up overhead to the sky.

Exhale and bend your arms to form two 90-degree angles at the sides of your body, squeezing your should blades together.

Inhale and return to start.

Repeat for three breaths. Move into cat-cow.

With Tara Stiles Featuring Michael Taylor

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