Stretch of the Week: Reclined Upper Back Backbend

by Rachel LackowskiLeave a Comment

May is here! Summer is just around the corner and some of us may be hitting the gym pretty hard to get ready for the warm days ahead. So for this month’s theme we will be taking it down a notch with some restorative stretches. These passive stretches are like a reset for the body. We allow gravity to do most of the work while we relax.

bolster for reclined upper back backbend


It is recommended that you perform these stretches with a rectangular yoga bolster. If you don’t have a bolster and would like to consider purchasing one, you can find one here.

blankets for reclined upper back backbend


These stretches may also be done with three folded blankets if you don’t have a bolster.

The restorative stretch for the first week is called Reclined Upper Back Backbend.

If you have any trouble getting up and down from the floor, have undergone back surgery, have a history back pain/muscle spasms/injuries, or a history of shoulder pain or injuries, please do not perform this stretch. As with beginning any exercise program, it is recommended to consult with your physician, physical therapist or occupational therapist to determine which exercises are best for you.

Starting Position:

  1. Place the bolster or blankets horizontally on the floor. Sit in front of the set up with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Recline back, using your hands for support, until your upper back is resting on the bolster. Next, reach your arms over head towards the floor. Finally, slowly straighten your legs to the floor.

stretch of the week reclined upper back backbend photo

To know if you’re in the right position, your head will just barely brush the floor. If your shoulders are on the floor or you feel like your neck is jammed, you need to scoot further down towards your feet. Refer to the photos below for correct and incorrect positions.

Performing the Reclined Upper Back Backbend:

  1. Attempt to keep the hands even and arms as straight as you can. If they are floating above the floor, then place a yoga block or something similar under the hands for added support. Press the belly button towards the floor to protect low back and keep the feet active (pointed toward the ceiling).
  1. This passive stretch should feel wonderful. If it does, stay here for 1-5 minutes for an amazing stretch through the front body. If it doesn’t, then return to a seated position by bending the knees, rolling to the side, and using both hands to press yourself up.

Thanks again for tuning into the weekly stretch!

Questions? Email me at

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