Mobility of the back is one of the basic functions of human movement in all physical activities. When back pain occurs, the body becomes tense, anxious and the mind focuses on relieving pain with less mobility. This is a concern that needs to be addressed by a physician to identify causes of more serious limitations. However, if the back becomes less flexible in everyday activity, there may be lifestyle alteration that can alleviate pain and increase mobility.
Long established habits can contribute to stiffness in the spine such as sitting too long with poor posture or standing/walking unconsciously with a slumped over spine. Yoga can address ways to correct poor posture and align the spine for increased flexibility in everyday activity. The mind may ignore long practiced habit patterns that can contribute to a tightening spine reducing flexibility. Yoga can address this concern with a purposeful posture when sitting, walking and everyday movements.
A Yoga practice of various postures improves fresh blood circulation through the spine and back which generates oxygenated blood to enliven the organisms of the body yoga begins in the mind with an objective to improve overall stability, balance and health. The breath generates renewed life in the cells for flexible movement.
This practice begins on the yoga mat placed horizontally on the floor in front of a wall. Begin by standing with a firm back against the wall. Next. slowly turn the upper body and reach one arm to the floor or rest the hand on a solid Yoga block while raising the opposite leg out to the side and level it with the waist. As the leg is raised horizontally to the side, keep the back against the wall for balance as the other arm is raised upward in a straight line. Keep the body firm as you look up at the free arm. Work on a goal of raising the leg waist high, Hold the pose for a count of ten. Holding yoga postures and deepening each inhale/exhale is key to letting go of pent-up tight energy in the arms, back and leg muscles. Slowly lower the extended leg to the floor and turn the body straight with arms, extended long by the sides. Take a deep inhale/exhale and move into a forward bend. Repeat the same steps on the other side. When you feel confident in practicing this posture, attempt to move the hand off the block down to the floor.
This integration of lengthening postures is great for alignment of the core. When learning Yoga, a solid core is key to balance and flexibility to twist and turn.
You can warm up the body before beginning this extended standing posture by starting from a seated position with legs spread wide apart. Bend the body forward and reach each hand towards the toes, slowly pull them back. If you are not yet able to grab the toes, modify the posture by resting the hands on each thigh or calf and bend forward to release tension in the upper and lower back.
Remember each stage of Yoga is important so move slowly towards your goal. You can also come to the “Yoga for Life” class at the Sebring YMCA Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Take up the challenge to increase flexibility and balance.