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10-Minute Sequence: Strengthen Your Back

10-Minute Sequence: Strengthen Your Back
The muscles that make up your back can be broken down into three groups: Superficial, Intermediate, and deep. Today we will be focusing on the superficial.
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The superficial muscles are composed of the  trapezius, latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae and the rhomboids.These muscles start from the vertebral column and attach to the clavicle, scapula, and humerus. This muscle group is associated with the movements of your shoulders, each playing a specific part in the movement of your upper limbs.
Trapezius: This broad, flat, triangularly shaped muscle is the most superficial of all back muscles. The upper portion of your trapezius aids in the stabilization and rotation of your shoulderblade when moving your arm away from the midline of your body.  The middle and lower section helps to draw your shoulder blades together and down.
Latissimus dorsi: This wide muscle covers the middle section of your back. It helps you to reach your arms away from your body and bring them down to your side.  It also helps you internally rotate your upper limbs. 
Levator scapulae: This small strap-like muscle begins in your neck and attaches to your scapula. It helps with movements that lift your shoulder blades, like shrugging your shoulders.
Rhomboids: There are two rhomboids; the major and the minor.  Both rotate your shoulder blades inward and downward as well as draw them together on your back.  
This three pose sequence will guide you into the proper alignment and strengthen the intricate muscles on your back. 

You back bears a heavy load each day, so show your self-kindness as you move through this sequence. Honor your bodies limitations, mindfully approach each movement with care, and support all of your movements with an engaged core. You know your body better than anyone, make sure you take the care to protect it from injury. Start by engaging your breath with this 1-minute  Child pose video.
Cobra Pose strengthen back muscle yoga pose yoga teacher yoga blog learn how to do cobra pose

Cobra Pose

Start laying down with your belly on the floor.  Place your palms on the ground, so that your knuckles are directly under your shoulders, your elbows will poke up in the sky like grasshopper wings. Rest your forehead you the ground and press into the tops of your feet to engage your legs.

  • Draw your tailbone down towards your heels.
  • Engage your latissimus dorsi and trapezius to draw your shoulder blades together on your back.
  • Press into your palms into the floor and engage your rhomboids to broaden through the front of your shoulder heads and widen your collarbones.
  • Inhale, reach the top of your head towards the front of the room to elongate your neck.
  • Exhale firm up your belly.


  • Dig the tops of your feet into the mat to turn on the muscles in your legs.
  • Stretch up through the sides of your waist.
  • Lift your chest off the floor by engaging the superficial muscles on your back and reaching your color bones towards the front of the room.
  •  Relax your neck by keeping your gaze on the top of your mat. 
  • Press your shoulder blades together and down as you dig the tops of your feet into the floor to lift your chest an inch higher. Hover here

Hover here for 5 steady breaths.  On your last exhale, gently lower all the way down to the mat.  Reach your hands above your head and reach through all four limbs. Then draw your hands under your shoulder heads and press up into tabletop position( stack your shoulders above your wrist, draw your knees under your hips, draw your belly up and in to support a straight spine).


Kneeling cresent twist strengthen back yoga pose

Kneeling Cresent Twist


Draw your belly in as you step your right foot between your hands.  Take your time getting your foot there... this isn't a race.  Find a 90-degree angle in the right knee, so that your knee stacks over your right ankle. Square off your hips by drawing your inner thighs towards each other.  Push into your left ball mound to help stabilize this shape. From here:

  • Reach both arms up into the air( kneeling crescent lunge).
  • Slightly tilt the tailbone towards your back heel so that you remember to engage your core and bring your hands to heart center.
  • Breathe in, lengthen up through your spine.
  • Exhale, gently twist your torsos towards the right side of the room. Hook your left elbow hooks on the outside of the right thigh (right above the right knee).


  • Pull your belly in. Press your palms together as your retract your latissimus dorsi and expand through your upper chest to deepen the twist. 
  • Continue to engage your inner thighs and reach your tailbone downwards to help stabilize your base.
  • With each inhale, lengthen the crown of the head towards the front of the room. With each exhale, and twist a little deeper. 

Stay here for 5 steady rounds of breath. Exit this pose by releasing your hands to the floor and stepping your foot back to tabletop.  Then press back into childs pose for three breaths before your repeat that same steps on your left side.


 How to pyramid pose strengthen your back yoga pose yoga teacher yoga blog

Pyramid Pose


Press up into downward facing dog. Walk your feet forward to forward fold.  Gently roll up your spine one vertebrae at a time until you are standing in mountain pose. Place your hands on your hips.

  • Step your left foot 3-4 feet behind you. The toes on both of your feet should point to the front of your mat.
  • Gently shift the weight on your back heel and rotate your left toes about 60-degrees, so that your left toes at the top-left corner of your mat. 
  •  Scissor your inner thighs towards each other to maintain a  hip-width distance stance.
  •   Press your weight evenly through the outer edge of your back foot and the big toe of your front foot.
  • Square off your hips by drawing your left hip slightly forward, 
  • Engage your latissimus dorsi and trapezius to tuck your shoulder blades firmly into your back. 
  • Tighten your belly to your spine and keep your low ribs tucked inward.


  • Inhale, active your Rhomboids to rotate your arms out wide to the sides of your body.
  • Exhale, draw your arms behind your back.  Kepp a tall spine as you clasp each elbow with the opposite hand. If your shoulders are more open, press your palms together in reverse prayer.  
  • Breath in and elongate your torso. Exhale, extend your chest forward as you fold at the hips 
  • Work your back muscles here, use them to hover your chest parrel above your front leg and to the floor.
  • Maintain a firm core to avoid overarching your back.
  • Press down evenly through your back heel and reach the crown of your head and your tailbone away from each other.  Gaze downward at your front big toe.
Firm and hold this position for 3-5 steady breaths. When you are ready to exit this pose release your arms and place your hands on your hips. On an inhale, gently roll up your spine. Step your feet together in mountain pose.  Close your eyes fro a moment to recenter your mind. Repeat on your second side. 
Find this sequence helpful?  Check out the Live.Love.Balance. Beginner Series for at home yoga course that will help you deepen your practice develop a home practice.

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