Yoga Moves to Strengthen Your Core and Strengthen Your Back

yoga moves

Yoga is a holistic practice that can help you feel healthier and happier. You can practice at home or in a studio. Yoga can also help you sleep better. Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can improve sleep quality.

Boat Pose is a great way to build upper body strength and improve posture. It also strengthens the abdominal muscles and back support.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon pose (Kapotasana) is a therapeutic hip-opener that also strengthens and eases back pain. It can feel challenging for beginners, but it is important to approach this pose slowly and cautiously.

Incorrect form can result in injury and strain to the knees or sacroiliac joint. For beginners, a yoga strap can help keep the front leg more stable and prevent it from falling backwards or tucking under the body.

For advanced students, the pose can be modified into Half Pigeon and Mermaid Pose to increase depth and challenge. The stretches of this posture target the glutes, piriformis muscles and external hip rotators. If Pigeon Pose is inaccessible due to injury or tightness, Dead Pigeon and Butterfly Stretch are good alternatives.


A key element of Sun Salutations, Chaturanga, also known as Four-Limbed Staff Pose, is a core and arms strength builder. It strengthens the wrists, shoulders and abdomen muscles, and prepares the body for more challenging arm balances.

Many students fall into the trap of practicing Chaturanga like a regular pushup, letting the elbows flare out and burdening the shoulders. This puts these delicate joints at risk and can lead to injuries, so it’s important to practice the pose with correct alignment. Be sure to hug your elbows in toward your ribs rather than pushing them out as you lower toward the floor. A well-aligned version of the pose also allows the heads of your upper arms to drop back and hover over your hips.

Happy Baby

Happy Baby, also known as Ananda Balasana, is a relaxing yoga pose that stretches the hips and releases tension in the lower back. It is a great restorative pose to perform at the end of your yoga practice.

This movement reminds you of the playful movements babies make when reaching for their toes, and it can help relieve stress while encouraging feelings of joy and playfulness. It can also increase flexibility and ease back pain.

It also helps to strengthen the hamstrings and inner thighs. However, it is important to be aware of the common mistakes when doing this pose so you don’t cause injury.

Upward-Facing Dog

Upward-facing dog (also called urdhva mukha svanasana) strengthens the arms, shoulders and wrists. It also opens the chest, lengthens the back of the neck and stretches the lower belly. It improves posture and creates space between the shoulder blades to help with breathing.

It’s a good idea to work up to this pose by doing a few rounds of cat/cow and sun salutations without it first, so the spine is warmed up before practicing. Avoid this pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or a back or wrist injury.

Incorporate a counterpose like cobra or bridge pose to help ease into this backbend.

Janu Sirsasana

Janu Sirsasana or Head to Knee Pose is a seated forward bend and beginner-friendly yoga pose. It is a similar variation of Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend and provides a great stretch for the hamstrings, shoulders, back and glutes.

This pose also improves your breathing, which in turn helps calm the mind and reduce anxiety levels. It is also believed to re-energize the body by releasing energy from the lower back and hamstrings.

It is a good pose to practice during premenstrual symptoms as it heals the heaviness around the abdomen. However, this pose should not be practiced if you have a hernia or slipped disc and if you experience back pain or knee pain.

Downward-Facing Dog

Perhaps the most recognizable yoga posture, Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is equal parts strengthening and stretching. It strengthens the wrists, arms and shoulders; and stretches the ankles, hips, hamstrings and back body.

This energizing pose stimulates the brain, improves concentration and memory, and lowers blood pressure. It is also great for relieving back pain and improving digestion and circulation. Beginners may find it more comfortable using props such as blocks under the hands to reduce the angle and shift weight off the wrists onto the legs which are better adapted for bearing body weight. This is especially helpful for those with shoulder or wrist issues.