Stretch and strengthen your back with table pose in yoga.
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Table pose, also known as table top pose, is a powerful way to achieve a back stretch in yoga since it encourages the spine and back muscles to flatten and extend. Doing this stretch can help you align your spine and develop stronger back muscles. Thus, this position helps establish a safe and firm foundation for doing other back-friendly poses.
Get Into Tabletop
You can get into table stretch from either a seated position or a relaxing child's pose. From a seated position, simply move onto your hands and knees. From child's pose, lift the torso from its resting position on top of the thighs and straighten your extended arms so that your hands and knees are resting on the floor. Begin to refine the table pose by spreading your fingers wide and stacking your wrists directly beneath the shoulder blades. Press into the floor to engage the arm muscles. Keep your knees hip-width apart, pressing the top part of your feet into the yoga mat. Engage the abdominal muscles, and tuck the pelvis slightly to engage and flatten the back muscles and elongate the spine. You should feel a gentle stretch all along the back.
Reverse Table Stretch
For a more challenging version of table pose, begin in a seated position with the knees bent and your feet pressing into the floor. On an inhale, lift the hips away from the floor, keeping your knees bent as your arms extend. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged to protect the back. With the back muscles engaged, try to slightly tuck the pelvis to flatten through the spine and create a powerful stretch. Your neck should be in a neutral position, looking up at the ceiling.
Benefits of the Table
In addition to an effective back stretch, table top can also help strengthen your abdominal muscles, quadriceps and shoulder muscles, according to Yoga Basics. Stacking the shoulders and hips can help with alignment and strengthen the wrists. Working to maintain a neutral extension through the neck, in both traditional and reverse table top, can also strengthen the neck.
Change It Up
You can still achieve a back stretch but receive additional benefits by making slight adjustments to this pose. From traditional table top, try lifting the sternum and tailbone and looking up at the ceiling, suggests Learning Yoga. Then, slowly reverse this motion by tucking the chin into the chest and rounding through the spine. This can be a great way to counterbalance the traditional table top pose. Another option is to extend one arm out in front during the standard table top pose, reaching forward as you kick the opposite leg back. Maintain a flat back in order to feel a stretch from the tip of your front middle finger all the way to your toes. Switch your arm and leg and repeat.