I have had several people contact me recently asking about how yoga can benefit the back and requesting sequences to help them. Some with back pain, issues with the spine, poor posture and wanting to compliment the other fitness activities that they pursue. I have two videos specifically for the back, please click on the links below🙏❤
Yoga for lower back health
Yoga for the back
Before I start speaking about the benefits of yoga on the spine, I will say, everyone is different, and you may need physio, medical treatment or other support. I’m not a medical professional and can only speak from my experience.
I am hypermobile. When I was younger this caused me a lot of pain, especially in my lower back. I also had sciatica several years ago, which anyone who has experienced this, knows the incredible pain it can put you through. Since finding yoga and taking up regular yoga practice these are no longer issues for me. Yoga has made me strong, helped to protect my joints and increased my body awareness. Yoga builds strength and strengthens throughout the whole body.
When focusing on the back, if we start by thinking about stress, we often carry stress in our backs, shoulders and neck. When we are suffering with extreme stress, we can feel tight up through our back, restricting movement, making us uncomfortable and stopping us at times to carry out movements we want or need to be able to do. This stress impacts on the nervous system, putting us out of balance. This impacts on us feeling more tired, which in turn can make us more stressed, more tense, stiff and irritable. I am sure you can see how the cycle goes on. By stretching gently through the back, through spinal flexion such as gently through cat cow poses, this movement will release some of this physical tightness, the movement itself will release endorphins. When we move, whether in yoga, going for a walk of other exercise we release endorphins and this counter our stress hormones and help balance the nerves system. Taking us from the fight, flight response to the rest and digest state.
Also, when taking some time on our mat we become far more aware of the body. We notice areas where we hold tension and can work on these areas to give some care and kindness to. We will improve our posture through asana practice (Poses). We are in a world where we spend time looking down at phones, working at computers and driving, this can lead our posture to become hunched over. Just take a moment to sit up straight, role your shoulders back and take a breath. Notice how much more space you have in your chest, how much air you can take into your lungs, enabling full inhale and exhalations. This practice can be powerful enough in itself. Why not commit to once a day, taking note of your posture, sitting tall, extending the spine, rolling the shoulders back and taking three, long, slow deep breaths. Then maybe try this twice or three times a day. The more you practice this, the more aware you will be of your posture and how it feels to have more space in your body.
Using yoga to support back health will also impact on digestion and energy levels, again creating more space in the body. Twists can be very nice for the back and internal organs. Stretching and squeezing, helping food to digest more easily. I will talk more about yoga for digestion in a future blog.
Each one of us has a personal practice, we can work on parts of the body that may benefit from our yoga practice. To do this we need to be aware of what is going on for our minds and bodies, I know that finding yoga changed my life and stopped the pain I used to feel, I couldn’t be more grateful for the universe leading me to yoga. It is worth trying. Each of us come to yoga for different reasons, some physical, some mental, some spiritual. In my opinion, whatever brings you to yoga you will end up benefiting holistically.