Can Yoga Relieve Lower Back Pain?

downward dogWe often hear people complain of back problems. In a culture that sits in chairs, sofas and cars, we are especially vulnerable to low back issues.

lumbar spine

Yoga helps to educate and bring awareness to this tender and highly susceptible area of the body called the lumbar spine.

The lumbar spine is normally comprised of five vertebra that sit between the upper back (thoracic spine) and the sacrum (click here for last week’s discussion). As you can see in the drawing, the position of the lumbar spine sits directly behind the abdominal area. Unlike the sacrum, it’s highly mobile and can rotate, flex and extend, making it, and the muscles that surround it, candidates for injury and pain.

Here are three key concepts that will help you to generate awareness and right action for your lower back: Continue reading “Can Yoga Relieve Lower Back Pain?”

Honoring the Sacred Bone through Yoga

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To supplement my classes for this week, I would like to look more deeply into the sacrum. This triangular segment of fused vertebra located at the base of the spine attaches the lumbar or low back to the pelvis and legs via the hip bones and other supporting musculature. Through its connections, the sacrum is ideally positioned to be a prime stabilizer for the body.250px-Gray241

We have studied the sacrum for its ability to anchor the hips. Each connected to its own leg and foot, the hips tend to act independently, and, most often, asymmetrically. Between each hip and sacrum, there sits a slender connection – the sacral iliac joint – which takes the brunt of the movement between these bones. It is critical, therefore, that we identify any significant asymmetries and honor them to prevent stress and dysfunction.

Exploring the grounding quality of the sacrum can help create awareness for the pelvis and the entire body. As you lie on your back, you can better sense the weight of the sacrum against the floor and may even feel the discrepancies between the two sides of the body through the hip bones and their relationship to the floor. Often times, a hip that sits forward of the other will feel lighter and less rooted to the floor.

Try supine variations of standing poses like Vrksasana or Tree pose to get a better sense of your hip alignment and its range of motion. Then, strengthen the musculature that adheres to your sacrum and hips, namely your gluteus group and piriformis, through postures such as Salabasana (locust) or reverse tabletop. And finally, be sure to honor the stability the sacrum is built for by supporting it. supported bridge poseIn Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge pose, use a block to brace the sacral bone. Or, explore Viparita Karani, the ideal pose for grounding the base of the spine (if you locate the legs directly above the hips).

I love that the original word sacrum comes from the Greek translation of hieron osteon imagesor “sacred bone.” This is because the Greeks believed that the sacrum was the home of the soul. Hieron can also mean temple and makes sense in that the sacrum is the back wall of the pelvic cavity which holds the organs that produce life – the ovaries and uterus. Another fun fact comes from the ancient Egyptians who believed that the sacrum was the last bone to deteriorate in a buried body.

Cherish the magical feeling of strength and unity that your sacrum was designed for developing!

 

Daily Yoga Vitamin for Healthy Bones

spine-257870__340Are you ready for today’s Yoga Vitamin?

For the past few weeks, I have been providing an assortment of Yoga Vitamins – sequences of yoga postures and breathing techniques to nourish your body, mind and spirit. To be the most effective, a daily yoga vitamin should consist of six essential ingredients: centering & opening positions, standing & focus poses and inversion & relaxation postures.

This week I will give you the “prescription” for a healthy bone sequence. This is an enriching yoga vitamin – one that targets the joints and moves the spine in all directions to combat osteoporosis and arthritis.

 Yoga Healthy Bones Vitamin

  1. Centering & Breath Awareness: Start with a Supine Full Body Stretch to lengthen the muscles. Incorporate Bananasana to stretch the spine and breathing muscles.
  2. Opening Poses: Down Dog and Plank (repeating this set of poses is a great for upper body strength and linking movement with breath). Then, proceed to Side Plank and Reverse Plank to focus on arm bones.
  3. Standing Poses: Warrior II and Side Angle for leg bones.
  4. Focus Pose: Hero and Cow Face Pose for hip joints and seated twists for spinal rotation.
  5. Inversion: Practice Forward Bend to keep the legs bearing weight. But support the head with a chair to release more fully.
  6. Restorative Pose: Savasana with the lower legs resting on a chair to ground and balance the sacrum. End in a seated posture and practice extending your exhalations.

As promised, here is a helpful set of supplements for you to pick and choose from. These extras will, hopefully, boost your daily practice and give you added support for the day!

Mantra: Om = Yoga’s universal sound and the root of all mantras. The vibration of which moves from the pelvis through the spine to the crown of your head.

Mudra: Prithivi Mudra or the earth mudra for stability and nourishment.

Props: This sequence of poses may benefit from the use of blocks to support a comfortable seat and assist with the standing postures.

Essential Oils: In general, any woodsy oil such as cedar, fir or pine will connect to the bones. Wintergreen, lemon and Rocky Mountain Oil’s Joint Support help to ease bone bruises or joint weaknesses.

Music: A great artist for grounding is Anugama.

If you want to check out another Daily Yoga Vitamin prescription, just click on last week’s post.

And if you have anything else to add, I’d love you hear your comments! MeditatingEmoji

Daily Yoga Vitamin for a Healthy Nervous System

photo-1528319725582-ddc096101511Are you ready for today’s Yoga Vitamin?

For the past few weeks, I have been providing an assortment of Yoga Vitamins – a sequence of yoga postures and breathing techniques to nourish your body, mind and spirit. To be the most effective, a daily yoga vitamin should consist of six essential ingredients: centering & opening positions, standing & focus poses and inversion & relaxation postures.

This week I will give you a “prescription” for a healthy nervous system sequence. This is a soothing yoga vitamin – one that provides balance and creates a centering and calming effect. Continue reading “Daily Yoga Vitamin for a Healthy Nervous System”

Daily Yoga Vitamin for a Healthy Heart

woman-1801281__340Yoga provides wonderful benefits to the cardiovascular system. Beginning with the breath, focusing on the inhalation and exhalation generates greater awareness of how we move air in and out of our bodies. Opening and standing poses lengthen and expand our torsos so that we can bring in more oxygen. Twists and inversions effectively circulate the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Therefore, developing a heart healthy yoga vitamin is key to our well-being.

I am defining our Yoga Vitamin as a group of components essential to maintaining your body, mind and spirit. To be the most effective, your yoga vitamin should consist of six essential ingredients: centering & opening positions, standing & focus poses and inversion & relaxation postures.

So, this week I am providing a “prescription” for a healthy heart. This practice sequence centers on bringing more oxygen to the body and getting that oxygen (and the nutrients it carries) circulating smoothly through the body’s systems. Continue reading “Daily Yoga Vitamin for a Healthy Heart”

Daily Yoga Vitamin for Overall Health

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Are you ready for your Daily Yoga Vitamin?

Last post I defined our Yoga Vitamin as a group of components essential to maintaining your body, mind and spirit. To be the most effective, your yoga vitamin should consist of six essential ingredients: centering & opening positions, standing & focus poses and inversion & relaxation postures.

This week I will give you a “prescription” for a universal health sequence. This is a good yoga multivitamin – one that you can use as an overall general practice. It emphasizes the principal of contraction and extension for the muscles – a benefit unique to yoga. Continue reading “Daily Yoga Vitamin for Overall Health”

What’s A Daily Yoga Vitamin?

photo-1534322989717-f57e38ba9120Do you take vitamins each day to keep yourself healthy?

A daily yoga practice can also serve to keep you in tip top shape. Think of it as your Daily Yoga Vitamin – a group of components essential to maintaining your body, mind and spirit. The dosage doesn’t need to be a large one but to be effective it should consist of these six essential ingredients. Continue reading “What’s A Daily Yoga Vitamin?”