Yoga For lower back pain 15th November

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Today we live in a world that on the surface seems to live in the moment, fast changing and more connected and exciting than ever. But the reality for most of us is that we have less face to face interactions with one another than ever before.

Our 'need' to be continuously connected, and knowing what is happening next, is leading us to heightened state of tension or anxiety as we have a fear of missing out (FOMO) with little focus on what is actually happening around us in our own lives. This is coupled with jobs that require us to relatively static during the day, hunched over a desk or computer.

This state can manifest itself in the body in many ways. One of these ways, is what Leslie Kaminoff calls a 'breath compromised posture'. This can include rounding of shoulders and dropping of the chest as well as curving of the lower spine, giving us less space to breathe. Here is where we get into a spiral of shallow breathing, leading to shallow thinking which in turn sending our sympathetic nervous system into flight-or-flight response and a hormonal cascade that puts our organisms under stress.

Surveys across the Britain and the USA have show that Yoga comes out best for reducing the effects of this daily grind with a simple, regular Yoga practice.

Like millions of people the world over, many people walk over the threshold and into mine or others yoga classes because of Lower back issues. So here is a sequence of 5 simple poses*, if done regularly, will relieve pain and bring back the balance in your life.

To start, all you need is a :

  1. mat or something to keep the feet from slipping,

  2. Patience, as it took you months or years to get yourself into this state,

  3. A calm environment, so that you can focus.

Cat/Cow Pose (Marajaryasana/Bitilasana)

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Cat/Cow Pose is an easy, gentle way to warm up the spine.

Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor.

EXHALE, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.

INHALE, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward.

Staff pose (Dandasana)

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It might look straightforward, but there’s more to Staff Pose than meets the eye.

Sit on the floor with your legs together and extended in front of your torso. If your torso is leaning back, it may be because tight hamstrings therefore it may be helpful to sit on a blanket or a bolster to lift the pelvis.

Without hardening the belly, firm the thighs, press them down against the floor (or your support), rotate them slightly toward each other, and draw the inner groins toward the sacrum. Flex your ankles, pressing out through your heels.

To lengthen your front torso, think of opening the space between the top of the hip bones and the bottom of the rib cage, then down the back from the shoulders to the tail bone.

Imagine your spine as the “staff” at the vertical core of your torso, rooted firmly in the Earth, the support and pivot of all you do. Hold the pose for one minute or longer.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (ArdhaMatsyendrasana)

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Half Lord of the Fishes pose energizes the spine and stimulates the digestive fire.

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, buttocks supported on a folded blanket. Bend your right knee, and step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left knee. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling.

Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee.

EXHALE and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together. Press the inner right foot very actively into the floor and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor.

Turn your head in the same direction as the torso by turning it to the right.

With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, pushing the fingers against the floor to help. Twist a little more with every exhalation. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don’t concentrate it in the lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation. INHALE and return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

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Open wide into Prasarita Padottanasana I to increase flexibility by leaps and bounds.

Stand up tall (Tadasana (Mountain Pose)), facing along the long edges of your mat, then step your feet apart anywhere. Rest your hands on your hips. Make sure your inner feet are parallel to each other. Lift your inner arches by drawing up on the inner ankles, and press the outer edges of your feet and ball of the big toe firmly into the floor. Engage the thigh muscles by drawing them up. INHALE and lift your chest, making the front torso slightly longer than the back.

EXHALE and, maintaining the length of the front torso, lean the torso forward from the hip joints. As your torso approaches parallel to the floor, press your fingertips onto the floor or shines directly below your shoulders. Extend your elbows fully. Bring your head up, keeping the back of the neck long, and direct your gaze upward toward the ceiling.

Take a few more breaths and then, with an EXHALE, bend your elbows and lower your torso and head into a full forward bend. Make sure as you move down that you keep your front torso as long as possible. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.

Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. To come out, bring your hands back on the floor below your shoulders and lift and lengthen your front torso. Then with an inhalation, rest your hands on your hips, pull your tail bone down toward the floor, and roll the torso up.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Savangasana)

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Lie on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.

EXHALE and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor.

INHALE lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.

Keep your knees directly over the heel. Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back.

Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an EXHALE, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.

See Further poses or information follow me on facebook @yogicfrog, Tweet me on anna@yogicfrog. *For more details on these poses 

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