Believe it or not, your back was not designed to stay hunched over a computer screen all day or rounded into a squishy couch in the evening. Our current lifestyle does not play nicely with a healthy spine, which is why many of us suffer from back pain and stiffness. Today’s yoga class will encourage a healthy spine through a variety of movements.
This is a 25-minute practice that will move you into interesting and new postures to encourage spinal flexibility. All you need is a yoga mat to practice at home, although it may be nice to have a blanket or folded towel to place under the knees. Feel free to grab a yoga block if you have one at home to sit on or use as extra support.
Keep an open mind in today’s class, but more importantly, HAVE FUN.
This class was recorded for my Remote Yogi Tribe Membership where you can find 100+ yoga videos, guided meditations, and wellness help. You’ll find powerful workshops on topics such as motivation, relieving stress and anxiety, building intuition, and removing fear. Plus, the Tribe is all about community with monthly live calls and an active FB group.
Tips for a Healthy Spine
While it would be awesome if this one yoga class would be enough to forever help your spine, it’s just not that simple. In fact, there are many ways in which we can do more to support spine health, through flexibility movement, strength building, resting poses, and minor lifestyle changes.
We tend to sit with a rounded spine all day, our pelvises tilted forward slightly, and all the weight on the bottom of the spine. The shoulders often haunch forward and our necks are always looking up at a TV or down at a monitor or phone. This will cause back pain.
Then, when we stand, a lot of us throw out our lower back and puff out our chest, doing the exact opposite effect to the spine. This creates the sway back effect (think, sticking your butt out). Your back doesn’t love this either.
Ultimately, we want to encourage a neutral, straight spine.
Movement for Flexible Spine
One of the most important things to consider when looking to stretch your spine is to maintain a high level of variety. This is why a consistent yoga practice can do wonders for your back, as we are always moving it in new ways.
Of course, we have a combination of postures that extend the back and lift the chest, then postures that allow the back to round forward. You’ll notice many classes will make sequences that do one, followed by the other. Cat and cow pose is a great example of this.
We also focus on a variety of twists, noticing that each posture will target a different point of the spine. There are many side stretches that get the spine to extend in each direction. All wonderful!
But what we fail to do in yoga classes is to move the spine more like a wave and less like a stick. Think about a body roll in a dance class, flowing through each vertebra of the spine. We practice something similar in this yoga video, from down dog.
Strengthening the Back
Another way to ensure spinal health is to increase your back and ab strength. By building muscles in this area, you create more stability for the spine and take pressure off your lower back.
I suggest taking up weight training a couple times a week if you’re not already doing so. If you’re new to free weights, work with a trainer at first to make sure you’re performing the exercises safely. You can also try yoga for back strength and using resistance bands at home. However, you’ll get the best results with lifting.
Don’t forget about strengthening the abs here! A strong core is the best way to support your lower back and it will even help with your posture when you are seated without a back rest.
Give Your Back a Rest
As I said before, we often carry a lot of weight in our lower back, which can cause a lot of discomfort. But there are a few ways we can combat this by enjoying some resting poses to move the weight in opposite directions.
Standing forward folds are amazing for dropping the weight in the opposite direction, towards the top of the spine. You can do this with the support of a wall behind you and allow for a heavy bend in the knees to fold deep. Focus on releasing the neck and shoulders and use heavy exhales to relax even more.
It’s also helpful to lay flat on your back, preferably on a flat surface.
We tend to have a little space between our lower back and the earth, but we want to flatten this space to release the pressure here. You can do this by throwing your legs up on a wall, on a chair or couch, or stack a bunch of pillows under your knees.
Do this daily if you struggle with low back pain.
Of course, another way to care for our spine is by making adjustments for our everyday habits.
If you work at a computer all day, try switching up your posture. A standing desk can help to create a more neutral spine as you work. There are also tools, such as laptop stands, that will bring your display screen to a neutral level for your gaze. This will keep your neck straight and happy.
Other tips? Take walks throughout the day to keep active and step away from excessive sitting. Pay attention to your posture when you’re on your mobile device or driving. Stay active each day with simple tasks, such as housework and playing with your children.
You can also look into devices and technology that remind you of your posture or invest in seating with proper back support.
I promise you, paying attention to your spinal health will not steer you wrong. Your spine is crucial to your all-around health and your enjoyment in life. Take care of it.
Keep a healthy spine by finding movement, building strength, and allowing for proper rest. You’ll start to see a major improvement in how your back feels.
Drop any questions down in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help.
Keep up the great work,