We are only as young as our spine, and as we move into our Zoomer years, the decades of improper repetitive movements, weight gain, injuries, and poor posture can take a toll on our back. Dealing with back pain can be life limiting and impact so many areas of our lives.
There are many causes for back pain, and the pain we are experiencing puts our fight/flight responses of the nervous system into high gear, which further tenses the back, and this can easily take us into a pain loop.
We only have one spine, and it behooves us to maintain our original parts! Thankfully a Gentle Yoga practice is very effective at relieving pain caused by back issues.
How Yoga Helps:
In our practice, we stay out of the pain zone and find a way to work in the boundary between comfort and discomfort.
Vanda Scaravelli, a yogini who came to the practice much later in life shares that
“The adult spine is rigid and heavy and our yoga practice consists of breaking bad habits and in re-educating the spine so as to bring it back to its original suppleness.”
Awareness is key. We use awareness and the breath to illuminate the areas that are in need of more attention.
This is the essence of our yoga practice. We are uniting our body and its movements and the mind and its movements. Things slow down and our awareness is heightened, and we feel this wonderful energy coursing through the body, freeing up the breath and giving a sense of lightness to the mind as well.”
In a practice for back health, we release the psoas hip flexors on the front of the spine in the area of the low back, then the hip rotators around the glutes, and then the hamstrings, in that order. This frees up long held tension in the hips and legs, which may account for some of the issues causing problems.
Then we take the spine into all directions – a forward fold, a twist, and a backbend, so we can release the spine fully. When we unite the breath with the body and the mind, we definitely sense old energy being released and new energy coming and distributing itself everywhere.
Standing forward bends can be incredibly nourishing for the spine, as the extension of the spine allows the disks more room to expand, thus creating traction for the entire length of the spine.
Of course, we stay out of the pain zone by bending the knees and taking tight hamstrings out of the equation. If the hips are tight, we support ourselves with hands or elbows on the knees. We work the boundary between comfort and discomfort, and use the breath to ease and expand the boundary.
Hydration: Enjoy at least two litres of room-temperature water with lemon or cucumber every day. This keeps the cells hydrated, and supports the removal of ama, old toxins and waste products that may have been lodged in the cells of the muscles and connective tissues.
Chiropractic and Acupuncture: Many people enjoy improvements in their symptoms by working with these practitioners.
Rolfing and Myofascial Release: Explore different massage and bodywork modalities.
Castor Oil Pack: This technique can be very soothing. Take a white flannel cloth and dampen it with Castor Oil. Place the cloth on the area of discomfort and cover it with a towel or plastic, and place a hot water bottle on the area for the night.
Our practice can help us on so many levels. As Vanda writes in her book, ‘Awakening the Spine’: “The beauty of Yoga is the meeting of the brain with the body. When you are attentive, concentrated, when you feel what you are doing, there is energy. The binding of the two becomes energy. It is important to understand this. When they are together there is great energy, which gives the body freedom and makes the mind more supple.”
Here’s to a supple spine and a supple mind!
WATCH: Deborah shows you some gentle stretches that will help keep your spine and neck healthy and flexible.
*Healing Yoga provides insight meant to help you in improving your health and overall wellbeing. However, the information presented above is offered for informational and educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for the judgment of a medical professional, or consultation with qualified practitioners.
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We strongly recommend seeking professional medical advice before performing any techniques, poses, postures or routines presented on this site.