Before the end-of-year activities become too overwhelming, it’s good to establish a short daily practice to support yourself. If you have lower back pain or tightness, this could well increase during the stress of the festive season. A soothing practice of just 10 to 20 minutes a day can help you ease lower back tightness. Here are some easy and manageable self-care practices.
The method is crucial
When it comes to releasing muscle tightness, what is essential is not just the practice itself, but also the way you do it. If you go through a movement too fast, too strongly or without really paying attention, it may work against you. I like to compare muscles to small children. If you were to sing a child to sleep, but you would sing quite quickly to get it over with, while checking your mobile phone and being miles away with your attention, would your child feel very comforted and peaceful?
So move slowly, with your full attention on the movement and the breath.
The discipline to make it happen
Getting on the mat can be the hardest part of one’s yoga practice. If you find it difficult to actually get on the mat, it may help to think “I’m just going to lie on my back on the yoga mat.” Once you are there, it won’t be such a hurdle to do the movements as well.
Practices to ease lower back tightness
The practices below focus on mobilising the spine and stretching the back of the legs. They are not safe if you’ve had a herniated disc in the past 3 months. If this is you, do contact me to find out how yoga therapy can help slipped discs: https://beneyoga.co.uk/book-a-free-consultation-call/.
For everyone else, the general rule is that if a movement or position hurts, it is counterproductive and better to stop the exercise, at least for now.
Pelvic tilt and circle
Lie on your back with your legs bent. The feet are hip-width apart and not too close nor too far from the body. Put weight on the feet as you exhale and lower the back of the waist on the floor. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat at least 8 times.
By shifting the weight on the feet slightly, circle around the edge of the sacrum. Imagine that you have a clock on the lowest part of your back and you press gently on each number of this clock. Go round in one direction a few times and then change the direction.
Both exercises are good to do when you have sacroiliac joint pain. They may not be appropriate for some other acute lower back conditions. Do book a consultation call if you would like to discuss a tailored programme for your back pain.
knee to Chest
Keep one leg extended on the floor and hold the other knee towards you. Feel how the whole back can relax on the mat. Relax it even more with every exhalation. It’s lovely to slowly move the head from side to side in this position so the neck muscles release too.
Bring both legs towards the chest and both arms next to your body on the floor. Inhale and lengthen one leg towards the ceiling while moving the opposite arm next to your ear. Swap sides and repeat 4 to 8 times.
Bend the legs and place the feet next to each other on the mat, not too far or too close to the body. Widen your arms out to the side. Move the legs over to one side with an exhalation while looking away to the other side. It is important not to force a twist. If your knees don’t go down to the floor that’s totally fine. In fact, this is more normal for the majority of us.
Keep moving from side to side, inhaling to bring your knees back to the centre and exhaling to lower them to the other side.
Hold both knees
Hold both knees towards the chest without lifting the lower back off the mat. Make sure to keep the back of your neck nice and long, and if it feels too tight, do use a cushion under your head.
The rest position at the end of a practice is very important. Please don’t skip this part as your muscles need five to ten minutes to rest and assimilate what they have gone through. Skip this step and you may well find that your practice left you more tired than before!
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