Here are 3 yoga poses that I’ve modified to help restore Thoracic mobility. The Thoracic spine is an area in our body that very commonly loses its mobility due to our sedentary lifestyles. If you have neck, shoulder, or back pain, it’s likely that your Thoracic spine is restricted and these afflicted areas are now in pain for compensating for its lack of movement.
What we’ll be doing here today with these exercises is specifically engaging the fascial Posterior Oblique Slings to stretch the Anterior Oblique Slings (more on those here).
The benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Increased Thoracic spine mobility
- Increased Rib mobility for breathing
- Stability throughout the trunk via the slings and the core
- Better muscle coordination (these are a great warm up for anyone)
The best part about these is all you need is a block!
- Always picture your twisting occurring at the heart/chest
- The blocks are used to stabilize the pelvis and waist, to accentuate the thoracic rotation
- Many of these are breath to movement exercises, so remember to go slow and use your breath.
- Start in supine twist with you right leg across your body, and your right knee on a block
- Drive your right knee into the block
- With your right arm extended out from your body, place your left hand along your right hand/wrist
- Exhale, drag your left fingertips across your arm, chest, and then outstretch your arm.
- Inhale, bring your hand back to the starting position, and repeat on the exhale.
- Maintain the squeeze between the knee and the block
- Do 4x, hold the last one in the full supine twist (both arms outstretched) then switch
****Remember to keep pressing your knee into the block throughout the entire exercise.
****Go slooooooooooooow and feel each movement that you make.
- In Tabletop pose, place a block between your thighs, so that they are about hip width distance
- Bring your right hand behind your head, as if you were going to do a crunch
- Exhale, right elbow to left elbow
- Inhale, right elbow as high to the sky as what is comfortable
- Maintain the squeeze of the block between the thighs so that the hips stay level
- Do 4x, then switch
****Note that with the hand behind the neck and the elbow bent, you will not be able to reach as far as you usually would in a normal Thread the Needle.
- Set your block (short height) up anywhere above your low ribs on your Thoracic spine, you may need to play around to find the right spot
- Set a medium height block behind your head, and relax for a moment with the feet together (baddha konasa) or in Bridge [block placement should be similar to this picture]
****(This step not shown in above pictures)
Add movement: (Requires 1 block)
- Stay on the Thoracic spine block and plant your feet into Bridge pose (Shown in above pictures)
- Place your hands behind your head (like a crunch) and support your head and neck then remove the block behind your head.
- Exhale, slowly side crunch by bringing the right elbow towards the right knee, keep your left shoulder down
- Inhale return to center and do the side crunch on the left side
- Repeat up to 4x on each side.
*****This is also a very sloooooooow side crunch breath to movement activity
*****Make sure your block is no lower than your low ribs, you can move the block and repeat this exercise with it higher up on the Thoracic spine for increased release of the TLF.
These yoga mobility poses are especially helpful if you plan on doing a lot of twisting in your class as they help to teach that twisting should occur in the Thoracic spine. They also serve to stretch and release the fascia that restricts the Thoracic spine. It’s also great to take these before any class, especially if you spent a large part of your day sitting.
You’ll find that afterwards your torso will feel much more open and capable of moving in any which way you desire it to.
You’ll get up after the exercise with all your new strength and mobility like
What you’ve done is increased your bodies inherent ability to move and be strong!
Enjoy and have fun!
(Special thank you to Sarah Rae for once again being a great photographer)