This Is What I Learned About How Yoga Helps Your Spine
Spine health is something that we should all focus on but it’s not something that we know a lot about due to education. I did not know anything about how important taking care of our spines are until I met my husband Derrek, a chiropractor and the person who educated me on this subject. I do encourage everyone to start getting adjustments by a chiropractor – click here to read more. Along with weekly adjustments, I do feel like it’s important to be aware and proactive in giving your spine love.
I have personally seen a positive change in my spine by practicing yoga on a weekly basis as well. Yoga poses have the ability to help your health and flexibility through the stretching and strengthening involved. Most of the movements are centered around the spine and by practicing you can create more strength in the muscles during the holding of the movements. Yoga also helps you work on improving circulation to your spine and nerves while getting a good workout in! Yoga is something that I have practiced since Vivi was born and I have seen a major difference in my body and my health since I made it a regular occurrence in my life. I’ve learned more about the proper posture and movement in my practice and how that benefits you more than forcing into a pose because it looks cool and by putting this into my own practice, have become the strongest I’ve ever been in my life.
Another added health benefit that yoga is what occurs through the stretching and relaxing. By doing this regularly, it will help increase blood flow and nourish the soft tissue and back muscles. Life is SO stressful and I’ve found that the deeper breathing and relaxing done in yoga really does help reduce tension in my muscles and joints. I have a very high stress work load and with that it doesn’t help me try to relax, EVER! Yoga helps me mentally and emotionally by reducing my stress and anxiety and allows for my body stretching to have an optimal effect on my body.
I have been fortunate enough to find a special place to practice yoga in my town of Florence, SC. You can read more about my story and yoga experience by clicking here. I would love to bring in an amazing human, teacher and advocate for yoga and it’s wellness benefits to share more. Her name is Belinthia and she is one of the two owners of Soullift Studio. I have learned so much from her in my yoga journey so far, specifically with helping my body run at optimal performance. She is a wealth of knowledge and I am excited to share here in this space.
She always mentions this: “In our day to day life we often find ourselves scrolling social media or sitting at our desk which means we often forget to move our spine in all of the directions it’s made to be moved. This stagnancy can lead to a “stiff” spine or decreased spinal flexibility, or to put it simply back pain. The good news is that in a yoga class we generally incorporate all of the spinal movements listed above. We also focus on strengthening our core power and abdominal muscles in yoga asana, which play a huge role in the strength and vitality of our spine and overall well being.” I love taking classes with her because she really helps us to understand that Yoga truly helps our entire bodies. She was kind enough to outline some of her favorite Yoga poses for spinal health for my blog today:
My Fave Yoga Postures for Spinal Health
Extended Mountain Pose
This posture is great for elongating the spine and finding space in the spinal column. I love this posture because it gives us the opportunity to set up a solid, grounded foundation in order to access the fullness and the benefit of each pose. To find your foundation in a pose ask yourself, “Where am I touching the earth?” as this helps you to root down in order to rise up and find the safest alignment of your spine, joints, and muscles.
How to do the pose: Start with your feet hip width apart (that’s two fist bumps between your feet). Look down at your toes and spread them wide on your mat. Lift the inner arch of your feet and feel the four corners of each foot ground you down. Keep rooting down through the feet as
you engage the muscle of your legs without locking your knees. Engage the pelvic floor muscles and allow the low belly to pull in towards the spine and up towards the crown of your head; you will feel the pelvic bowl slightly tilt as you do this action. Inhale and lift your sternum and your
arms straight up towards the ceiling or the sky. Exhale and stay rooted through the feet. The palms can touch in a high prayer over your head or you can find more space in the chest by separating the arms and sparking the fingers. Keep your gaze forward with ears resting over your shoulders. Hold for 1-5 full cycles of breath and exhale the arms by your side to release the pose. You can also try this posture reclined on your mat to really feel the alignment of the spine, support of the earth, and the lengthening of the spine.
Standing Side Bend
This pose is the perfect ‘rise and shine’ movement for lateral flexion in the spine. From Extended Mountain Pose use your right thumb and index finger to hook around your left wrist.
How to do the pose: Begin to pull the arms towards the right side of the room on an inhale. Exhale as you keep your chin up close to your left armpit and arms lengthened to the right. Stay for 3-5 full breaths as you press through the bottom of the left foot and keep side bending to the right. Inhale back through the center and switch sides.
Easy Seated Twist
Spinal twists are my favorite personally as they feel like hitting the refresh button in my body by twisting out any sticky places along my spine. I also find twists to be very symbolic of the twists and turns life throws at us. I often use the following mantra in my practice while twisting, “May
the twists and turns of my life facilitate my rise” as I lift the crown of my head up and twist to each side.
How to do the pose: Start in an easy seat. Take your right arm behind you and place your right palm on the floor or on a block near your right glute. Inhale and reach your left arm up towards the north. Exhale reach the left arm across the body and let the left hand land on the right knee. Inhale lift
the crown of the head up and exhale as you begin to look over your right shoulder. On every inhale feel the belly expands forward, on every exhale feel the collar bones parallel themselves more to the right side of your mat as your belly softens in towards itself. Hold for 3-5 full cycles of breath. To exit the pose, inhale the head and gaze back towards the top of the mat then
exhale as you unwind the arms and come back through the center. Switch sides.
Sphinx Pose Yin Style
Yin yoga focuses on the connective tissue of the body and can be a very complimentary practice in regards to our spinal health as it focuses on longer holds that increase the fluidity of the body while encouraging a more pliable, flexible body. For this posture I recommend a bolster or a firm pillow.
How to do the pose: Find yourself on your mat with your belly touching down on the floor. Place a pillow or bolster under your chest near your ribs so that your elbows and forearms can easily land on the mat with your shoulders directly over your elbows and fingers spread nice and wide on the mat. The feet should be about hip width apart and the hips and glutes relaxed. There will be slight compression in the low back as we use this pose to find extension of the spine. Humble the head towards your heart or let it land on a block as you stay here and breathe for 2-5 minutes. When exiting the pose remove the bolster and place one ear or check on the mat as you relax the arms and windshield wiper the lower legs side to side to release the low back from the yin posture.
This pose is often referenced as home base in a vinyasa class. It’s a posture of surrender and spinal flexion.
How to do the pose: Come to your mat in a kneeling position. Keep your knees and big toe edges of your feet touching as you exhale and surrender your chest to your thighs and glutes towards your heels. Stack your palms and use them as a pillow for your forehead. Inhale and feel the
length in the spine from your low back (lumbar spine), to your mid back (thoracic spine) and all the way up towards the back of your neck (cervical spine). Exhale and surrender your body to be supported by the floor. Stay here for at least 5 full cycles of breath. To exit this posture plant your palms on the floor under the front of your shoulders and inhale lift up the torso until you find a tall spine.
I hope you all found this information as helpful as I do! You all know that yoga is a crucially important part of my healthy and wellness routine so I am happy to share it with you today! If you are in the Florence, SC area, I encourage you to come take a class with me at SoulLift! It will benefit your health in ways you would never believe! Tell them I sent you!