Have you made resolutions to look after your back health this year? Maybe you decided to slouch less, buy an ergonomic chair for your desk, or invest in a back care programme to strengthen your back and core muscles. You may even be considering yoga therapy as a way of looking after your back and general health. The advantage of yoga therapy is that it also offers relaxation and breathing exercises to calm the mind. This is essential, as stress may be the cause as well as the result of back pain. With this blog about New Year’s resolutions for a healthy back I would like to give you an easy, daily routine to improve your spine’s mobility, release tightness, strengthen your abdominal muscles and relieve stress. It’s not the only way, but it’s a good start.
When it comes to back pain, there’s no quick fix; only regular practice will give you long-term results. The exercises below are a good start if you have a tight lower back and occasional lower back pain. Of course, there isn’t one simple routine that fits all. If your back pain is acute, or caused by nerve impingement, arthritis or postural habits, for example, an individual yoga therapy programme will be better for you. Having your own tailored practices will empower you to manage and relieve your back pain. For a free phone consultation about how yoga therapy can help you, contact me here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/contact-for-yoga-classes-in-chiswick/
Included in the back care resolutions below are relaxation and stress relief. This is because back pain often has more than a mere physical or mechanical cause. Pain has an emotional aspect as well, as muscles contract when there is emotional or mental stress. Relaxation and breathing techniques can help us cope with stressful life events. Without such relaxation techniques, we may find it increasingly difficult to look at situations clearly and calmly.
New year’s resolution for back health #1: keep your spine mobile
The ‘cat and cow’ poses flex and extend the spine gently, thereby stretching the front and back of the spine. These movements I will always include in my practice. Together with the dog pose and holding one leg in a supine position, they are my favourites to stretch my spine.
-Start on all fours.
-Exhale and bring the navel up, thereby rounding the whole spine.
-Allow the head to hang down.
-Inhale and arch the spine in the opposite direction gently.
-Bring the shoulders away from the ears and the shoulder blades down towards the waist.
-Keep looking down and only a little forward to avoid crunching the back of the neck.
-Alternate between cow and cat and repeat both 5-7x before resting in child’s pose. This is a wonderful resting position for the back. If you need an alternative to child’s position, have a look at this blog: https://beneyoga.co.uk/emergency-yoga-part-3-exhaustion/.
If the all-fours position is not possible because of your knees, do the spinal movements on a chair or in the cross-legged position (cf. this blog: https://beneyoga.co.uk/mobilising-the-spine-in-a-seated-position/).
New year’s resolution for back health #2: strengthen your core muscles
Strong abdominal muscles support the lower back. This position, called ‘hunting dog’, strengthens the front and back of the body and hence the whole core. For more abdominal strengthening, check this blog: https://beneyoga.co.uk/core-strengthening-videos-healthier-back/.
– Start in all fours with the “plank breathing”: exhale and contract the abdominal muscles, inhale and relax the abdomen a little.
-Stretch one leg behind you, first keeping the toes on the floor for a few breaths. Then lift the leg.
-If your lower back feels stable and is happy with the position, add the opposite arm next to your head. Stay a few “plank breaths” and repeat on the other side.
Rest in child’s position.
New year’s resolution for back health #3: release muscle tightness
This relaxation with the legs on a chair is ideal when your lower back aches. It arranges the body in a way that is ideal to relieve pain and tightness in the lower back. If you have a herniated disc, this leg position may not feel good. There are many other rest positions that do. To know more about yoga therapy for herniated discs, you can contact me for here for a free phone consultation: https://beneyoga.co.uk/contact-for-yoga-classes-in-chiswick/
-Rest with your legs on a chair, bent 90 degrees, maybe with a cushion under your head.
-The hands are on the abdomen or next to the body with the palms up
-Simply rest and observe the sensations in your body while you breathe.
New year’s resolution for back health #4: relax the mind
To help calm the mind, our breath is the most amazing tool. When our breathing is relaxed, the body and mind will follow. For this to happen, we encourage the exhalation to be longer than the inhalation.
-To start lengthening the exhalation naturally, blow the breath out 5 x through a soft, open mouth.
-Once your breathing feels calmer, count the exhalations for six counts and the inhalation for four counts.
-Finish by observing your breath for a few more minutes.
There are obviously many more ways of mobilising, releasing, strengthening and relaxing than these four practices. They are only a start and a suggestion of what yoga therapy for back pain can offer.
There are several ways of working with me. One is with my back pain package, in which you receive personal practices for your particular back pain, posture, energy levels, etc. Over five sessions the practices will evolve to guide your changing back and health needs.
The other way of working with me is in my group classes. They are more general and suitable for someone with occasional back tightness or back pain. For your safety of practice in the group setting, one private session is required before joining them.
If you would like to learn about yoga therapy, contact me here to schedule a free phone consultation: https://beneyoga.co.uk/contact-for-yoga-classes-in-chiswick/.
Wishing you a fabulous year with a strong, mobile and pain-free body!