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3 Yoga Poses to Strengthen Your Spine

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 19, 2021

Yoga is beneficial for people with ankylosing spondylitis in several ways. It not only provides exercise but also promotes relaxation and stress reduction. It helps to build joint flexibility and improve strength as well.

You can do yoga at home, but an experienced teacher will be able to help you modify poses for your specific needs.  Talk to your doctor before you start a new activity. If you feel sharp pain or lightheadedness, stop. If you feel unstable, move to a more stable or comfortable position. 

Forward Fold

Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your weight centered in the middle of your feet. Keep a little bend in your knees to make sure they aren't locked. Slowly roll down until your upper body is hanging freely. You can leave your arms hanging, clasp your elbows, or hold them behind your back. 

Increase the intensity of this pose by holding your calves and pressing your chest to your knees. Alternatively, you can modify this pose to be less intense by leaning over a chair and resting your hands on it for support. If that still feels too strenuous, you can sit in a chair and lean forward onto another one for support. 

Cobra

Lie face down with your palms flat on a mat under your shoulders and your elbows close to your body. Using your back and core muscles, lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor. Don't use your hands to push yourself up. Instead, your back and core muscles should be engaged, and your hands should be used mostly for balance. 

To increase the intensity of this pose, clasp your hands behind your back. For a less challenging variation, perform it using a chair for support or while standing against a wall. 

Seated Spinal Twist

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your back straight. Leaving one leg outstretched, bend the other knee and place your foot flat on the floor on the outside of your extended leg. Pull your foot as close to your opposite hip as possible. Wrap your opposite arm around your bent knee, bringing it to your body while keeping your spine as straight as possible.  

For more of a challenge, turn your torso in the direction of your bent leg and look over your shoulder. If it's too intense, you can sit on a firmly cushion or folded blanket. If you need an even gentler modification, sit in a chair and grasp your opposite knee and twist gently, keeping your back straight.  

Show Sources

SOURCES: 

Arthritis Foundation: "Yoga Benefits for Arthritis."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Yoga Poses for Arthritis Patients from Johns Hopkins."

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