Here are 6 simple yoga poses that have some real superpowers. Often in yoga, it is not necessarily the more advanced postures that have the greatest benefits. A well-timed Bridge pose could be all you need to stave off that pain you get in between the shoulder blades when you’ve been sitting for a long period of time; 5-10 breaths in Dead Pigeon could very well save you from lower back pain if you’re planning to go for a long bike ride at the weekend; and Reclining Spinal Twist is a saviour for neck pain and tightness in the upper back and shoulders.
These 6 poses are especially effective for people who sit for much of the day and for athletes in all disciplines. I’d love to hear which poses you’d add to the list.
Superpower: stretches the hip flexors.
You can’t beat Low Lunge after a long day of travelling. It’s a simple pose that packs quite a punch. Tight hip flexors are often involved in lower back pain and this counterpose to sitting can do wonders to keep you feeling loose and pain-free. Hold Low Lunge for 3-5 breaths on each side—in and out through your nose.
Superpower: activates the posterior chain.
There is a lot going on in Bridge pose. It not only activates the posterior chain—the lower back, glutes and hamstrings, it also opens up the chest, increases mobility in the thoracic spine and most importantly—counteracts that pain you get in between the shoulder blades from rounding your back over your computer or handlebars. Hold Bridge pose for 3-5 breaths and repeat a couple of times.
Superpower: stretches the glutes.
This pose—a member of the Pigeon family of postures—is fantastic for stretching the glutes. It’s another simple but highly effective pose that if practiced regularly, can keep lower back pain at bay. It’s a favourite stretch for athletes in all sports. Hold Dead Pigeon for at least 3-5 breaths on each side.
Superpower: adjusts the pelvis.
This amusingly named pose is, in fact, great for digestion but also for relieving lower back pain. The asymmetry of the stretch can help to realign your pelvis whilst simultaneously stretching the glutes and hip flexors. Hold Wind-Relieving pose for 5-10 breaths on each side.
Superpower: releases tension at the lower back.
This pose is my favourite multitasker. Not only does it relieve tension at the lower back, but it also increases mobility in the thoracic spine, stretches the glutes, TFL and IT Band, and releases tension in the neck and upper back. Hold this pose for at least 5-10 breaths on each side.
Super power: zen-like feelings of bliss.
Is there any pose more restorative than Child? It’s not only a gentle hip opener but also deeply conducive to states of calm, clarity and relaxation. It’s even comfortable and therapeutic on a hard rock on the beach! Hold this pose for a couple of minutes whenever you need a time-out—following the flow of your breath as it comes in and out of your body.