Back-breaking work or the rigors of an active lifestyle; an accident, injury or an illness that has seen you laid-up and sedentary for a while; back problems can leave you feeling debilitated and in pain. And if you suffer with your back then you’re not alone, some 60-80% of people are right there with you. The good news is that many of these back issues can be healed with the right care. Have you considered easing back pain with yoga?
The issue with back problems, aside from the pain factor, is the fact that they often impact the flexibility, stability and strength of your spine. Yoga focuses on alignment and this can often relieve a lot of the feelings of discomfort and rigidity that back pain creates. Not only that, but yoga allows the body to stretch and free up some of the pain in a safe way that protects your back.
Repetition, stretching, bending, and lifting; all common exercise movements which can actually exacerbate or even cause back strains. It is easy if you have back pain to concentrate on other areas of the body instead, but this can also bring another issue, which is muscle imbalance. Since yoga is all about balance, and is a gentle yet dynamic exercise style, then it can work wonders on releasing tension and inspiring the body to heal.
There are many poses in yoga which are aimed at stretching the back. Here are three:
Kneel down with your shins and the back of your feet against the floor and pressed down, keeping your hips soft and your thighs perpendicular to the ground and your legs hip-width apart. From the knees up your body should be straight and not sat down on your legs. Move your hands to your lower back, resting at the top of your glutes and lengthen your tailbone area, pushing it forward without your pelvis pushing out at the front.
Remember to keep your thighs strong and straight. Move a hand back to touch your foot. You may need to move the thighs back for this but they need to then be moved forward again. Place your second hand on your other foot. Your head should be facing forward. Now bend your back while lengthening the lower spine. This means stretching and then bending, keeping the ribs lifted from the front of your pelvis. Press your hands down to the soles of your feet with elbows out and drop the head back. Stay in position for up to a minute.
Get into position on your hands and knees, with your knees below your hips and your wrists below your elbows. Keep your neck soft but straight as you look down at the floor. As you breathe out bend your back upwards so that your spine becomes rounded. Keep the rest of your body in position, being careful not to tuck your hips in or move your shoulders down. Let your head drop down gently and naturally.
As you breathe in come back to your original position. Repeat this and take your time to stretch and breathe deeply as you gently move your back muscles and release pressure along your spine.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
A great pose for relieving backache and sciatica. Sit with a straight back and your legs stretched out. Bring your right leg in so that your right foot rests on the floor on the outside of your left leg around the knee area. Fold your left leg in so that the sole of your left foot is by your right hip. Put your right hand behind you without leaning back, so that the palm of your hand is on the floor.
Bring your left arm up to reach skyward. Bend the arm to bring the elbow on the inside of the right bent knee. If this is a little tricky you can simply hold the knee instead. Keep pressed into a sitting position and as you exhale twist to your right, moving each part of your torso but keeping your shoulders level. As you breathe feel your spine lengthen as you move into the twist more deeply. After a few breaths change sides.
As with any exercise, it is important that you are not in pain when you exercise and that you follow a well-rounded routine that will protect you when you work out too. You need to always let us know if you are suffering with a back issue or any other health or fitness related issue.