Ease back strain by developing a simple yoga practice that integrates, body, mind and breath.
Chronic back pain has become something of an epidemic in our modern American culture, especially among the always-been-active Baby Boomers who are doing their best to age gracefully and actively. The wear and tear from years of physical fitness in the gym or on the playing fields has left many with overworked muscles, weakened joints and plenty of scar tissue. And a fragile body structure can mean that a movement as simple as a sneeze could knock you flat for weeks.
Our lives are too busy to stop and deal with each tense situation or problem that may arise during any given day, so we push the tension aside until later when, hopefully, we’ll be better able to deal with it. But more often than not we end up burying it deep within our body's handy storage bins: the neck, shoulders, middle back, lower back and hips. This stored tension can often result in weakness, exhaustion, illness, or chronic back pain.
You'll be better equipped to deal with the most common back ailments by beginning a regular yoga practice. The integration of specific breathing techniques in conjunction with gentle movements can help ease contracted muscles, as well as soften stiff connective tissue, resulting in a reduction of those nagging sore spots--especially in the back--that continue to persist.
Try these simple yoga stretches to help you relax, tune-in and let go of stored stress in the back. No previous experience with yoga is necessary. All you have to do is breathe!
This gentle movement will massage the low back and relieve stiffness.
- Hug your knees into your chest and hold for three breaths.
- Place your hands on your knees and gently rotate your legs in a clockwise direction for as many rounds as you like, then back to center.
- Repeat the same movement in a counter-clockwise direction.
- Continue rotating and alternating as long as you like and enjoy!
This movement is perfect for releasing tension in the back. It feels really good any time of day, especially if you find yourself under unusual amounts of stress. Remember to breathe evenly and mindfully. Twisting in the morning will also help to let go of some toxins that might have pooled in the muscles while you were sleeping.
- Hug both knees into the chest. Keep your legs tucked as you extend both arms out to either side of your body, with palms flat to the floor.
- Lengthen your torso along the floor -- reach the tailbone in one direction and tilt your chin towards your chest a bit as you extend out ward through the crown of your head.
- On an exhalation drop both legs over to the right while keeping both shoulders on the floor. Breathe. Feel the breath moving into the muscles of the back, bringing warmth and releasing any tightness. Hold for three to five breaths, then come back to center and repeat to the other side.
- When you've stretched both sides you can continue to open up the back by continuing to drop the legs from right to left. Move slowly and always with the breath. When you've finished, roll to the right side and push yourself up to a seated position. Take another five breaths then go ahead and enjoy your day.
Learn more about releasing stress and releasing back pain at Scarsdale Yoga Studios, where Rita will be teaching a full range of therapeutics as well as ongoing back relieving workshops.
Rita Trieger is the Director of Marketing and Promotions for Scarsdale Yoga Studios. She teaches therapeutic yoga for cancer and heart patients at Stamford Hospital and is the author of Yoga Heals Your Back (Fairwinds, 2005).
Scarsdale Yoga Studios, LLC is the largest yoga and wellness facility in Westchester County, opening in Spring 2012. It will be the first full-spectrum yoga studio of its kind, offering a wide range of classes, workshops, therapeutic treatments, an organic juice bar and café, and many other amenities in a convenient and accommodating 7,000-square-foot location.