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Our spine is literally the backbone of our lives. It protects our spinal cord which transmits all the information our body needs to move, flex and function. It provides the single most important support structure in our body.

Because the spine is in constant use it is vulnerable to an array of problems. Muscular weakness or imbalance in other parts of the body can damage the spine. In turn, a stiff, painful or injured spinal column causes pain that reverberates through the body.

Yoga is a powerful tool for creating a healthy spine because it creates unity and balance. These three moves are especially useful for preventing and healing our backbones.

Spine-twisting pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Spinal TwistSit with legs long in front of you. Bend right knee and place right foot outside of left knee. (You can keep left leg long or fold it in like a half-cross-legged seat.)

Wrap left arm around right leg and place right hand on the ground behind sacrum.

Breathe here for 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Standing forward fold with shoulder opener (Uttanasana)

From a standing position, the body is folded over at the crease of the hip with the spine long. The neck is relaxed and the crown of the head is towards the earth. The feet are rooted into the earth. The toes are actively lifted. The spine is straight. The ribcage is lifted. The chest and the thighs are connected. The sacrum lifts up toward the sky in dog tilt. The fingers are interlaced behind the body and the palms are together. The arms and elbows are straight. The shoulder blades rotate towards each other as the hands move forward (away from the lower back). The gaze is down and inward.

Fish pose (Matsyasana)

Lie on your back. Your feet are together and hands relaxed alongside the body.

Place the hands underneath the hips, palms facing down. Bring the elbows closer toward each other.

Breathing in, lift the head and chest up. Keeping the chest elevated, lower the head backward and touch the top of the head to the floor.

With the head lightly touching the floor, press the elbows firmly into the ground, placing the weight on the elbow and not on the head. Lift your chest up from in-between the shoulder blades. Press the thighs and legs to the floor.

Hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can, taking gentle long breaths in and out. Relax in the posture with every exhalation. Now lift the head up, lowering the chest and head to the floor. Bring the hands back along the sides of the body. Relax.

Questions about the best postures for your spine? Ask in the comments or Tweet @YogaWithPaul

 

 

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