Yoga has received a lot of attention as a popular mind body fitness trend and it is now becoming the next trend in complementary medicine.
Indian culture has long recognized the value of yoga postures, breathing, and meditation to prevent, manage, and overcome injury and disease.
Now Western medicine is beginning to study yoga for specific conditions and has found it helpful for such conditions as low back pain, depression and anxiety, carpal tunnel syndrome, and high blood pressure just to name a few.
Yoga Therapy refers to the adaptation and application of yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality, and improve attitude.
For musculoskeletal conditions such as back, neck, shoulder, knee or hip pain, the goal is to recognize patterns or weakness that lead to the injury and start to adapt and change for the better.
In my chiropractic practice I also work one on one with individuals using yoga to overcome various conditions.
Here are two of my favorite poses to help maintain or achieve a healthy spine:
Cat – Cow
This pose uses movement to flush out stagnant fluid around the joints of the spine, and bring in new synovial fluid to nourish and support. This is an excellent pose to begin or end your day with if you suffer from a stiff or sore back.
Begin on your hands and knees. Find a neutral spine. As you exhale, draw your bellybutton towards your spine and begin to round your back – slowly – letting your head hang. Pause. Inhale and reverse the motion, allowing your belly to drop towards the earth and your gaze to turn upwards.
Repeat this motion, trying to imagine it flowing from your tail to your head, one bone to the next, as you move with your breath.
Many of us spend part if not most of our day sitting which tightens the rotators of our hips, in turn pulling on our low back. In addition, the fatigue of extended hours of sitting leads to sagging posture and a weak core, just asking for trouble in the lumbar spine.
This pose not only provides a delicious stretch to the tight muscles of our low back, it opens the hips and when practiced with intention can activate the core.
Sit on the ground with the left leg extended and the right knee bent with foot flat on the floor. Notice your low back. If it is rounding behind you sit up on a yoga block, cushion, or other height until you are able to keep the natural curve – spine towards your navel.
For a deeper stretch in the hips, cross your right foot over your left thigh and place your foot on the ground on the outside of your left leg. Place your right finger tips gently on the ground beside your right hip. Inhaling, raise your left arm overhead, sitting taller.
Using your oblique muscles of your core to create the movement, exhale and twist to the right, bringing your arm to the outside of your right thigh.
Gaze over your right shoulder if comfortable. Keep the spine tall and draw in your low belly to keep the weight out of your support hand on the floor. Hold for 5 breaths and switch sides.
– Article Prepared By Dr. Robin Armstrong BA, DC,