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Posts tagged ‘helping your back’

My granny’s back…

Well my 84 year old granny’s back is much improved from doing the very simple yoga exercises that I recommended she do:

From sitting – gentle side bends and rotation of the spine both ways. Then Savasana with knees bent alternating with the beginnings of Setu Bhandasana – getting the lumber spine onto the ground and creating space for the lower vertebrae. Also a little bit of Little Boat – when she can manage it.

I’ve asked her to try and do these movements 2 or 3 times a day. I think she started with 3 times and her back quickly improved – but then it went down to 2  and now – because she’s very busy (!) she usually only manages once a day.

Her back isn’t as good as when she first started the exercises – but much better than when she was doing nothing.

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pose of the week… supine twist – supta matsyendrasana

supine twist – supta matsyendrasana

The relaxation teamed with the feel of the spine rotating and something really happening in the body without you even trying  to do anything, makes this one of my favourite postures…

Benefits:  Massages the internal organs and the digestive system; so quite detoxifying! Encourages the shoulders to be more open. Lengthens the spine.

Contraindications: Be careful if you have any back conditions and only do what feels comfortable. Might not be good to do during pregnancy for some women – best to check with your Doctor or midwife on this one…

Practice: Lie on your back and hug your knees towards your chest (Little Boat)… Take a moment to breathe and allow the shoulders to settle…

Hold your legs behind the knees with your right forearm. Slowly bring your knees towards the floor on your right side. (If this feels too strong then place a cushion on the ground for your knees to rest on). Gently look to the left. If you feel comfortable – remove the supporting arm.

Give in to gravity and breathe…

To come back to the centre breathe out gathering your strength in  your abdomen.

Take a moment and breathe….. before doing the other side.

 

 

pose of the week – sitting with wide legs – upavistha konasana…

wide leg sitting – upavistha konasana

Benefits:  Can strengthen the muscles around the knees and help this area from feeling so vulnerable. Also strengthens the abdominal muscles and can improve flexibility in the hips and hamstrings.

Contraindication: This is generally a very safe posture to practice, but if it feels a strain keeping the upper body upright,  place a cushion just underneath your tailbone. This will give you some extra support and make the posture feel much more pleasant to do.

As with all poses of the week – if it doesn’t feel good to be in – don’t do it for now (until you have the advice of an experienced yoga teacher…)

Practice:  Sit on the floor with your legs comfortably wide. Placing hands wherever they feel relaxed – resting on the belly, or on the thighs…

Allow your hips and legs to be heavy and feel the sitting bones very much in contact with the ground…

Have an awareness of your spine being long and gently lengthening upwards.

Breathe easily and freely…

Stay in this posture as long as you feel happy being here…

pose of the week… cobra – bhujangasana…

cobra – bhujangasana

BENEFITS:  Strengthens the back muscles. May be beneficial for sciatica. Can be good for rounded shoulders as it encourages opening in front of the collarbones. Increases flexibility in the whole of the spine.  Is said to sometimes help stomach aches…

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Obviously pregnancy puts some restraints on practicing this posture!  Mother’s to be who normally practice this posture will find up until 12 weeks comfortable to do – but listen to your body – and don’t do it if it feels like an effort. We are all unique and different, so only practice if it feels good to do…

PRACTICE: Lie prone with the hands either side of the chest to begin with. The more comfortable the posture becomes – the further down the body your hands can go when preparing for the pose. Keep your eyes looking towards the ground. (You can shut them if you want to…)

Take a journey around your body and see if there is anything still holding. If there is then imagine you are breathing into it. Visualise the area softening and releasing.

Relax and breathe freely and easily…

Notice your hands and the contact they have with the ground…

Feel your spine moving as you breathe…

When you are ready, next time you breathe out engage your thigh muscles. Allow the legs to become heavier and lengthen the tailbone away.

As the upper body becomes lighter, ground the hands and allow  your arms to push you up.

Keep the elbows a little bent – so the arms don’t lock and become stiff . Keeping the arms bent will have the added benefit of helping them to strengthen.

Be aware of keeping the front of the chest and shoulders, wide and free.

Keep length at the back of your neck by allowing the chin be lower (rather than higher).

Enjoy your long spine, strong, (but not locked) arms and broad open shoulders. Breathe and stay for as long as it feels good to do…

Come down gently and then rest in child for a few breaths…

pose of the week – tadasana – mountain pose…

tadasana…

Tadasana is one of the basic standing postures in yoga.

BENEFITS: Good for lengthening and realigning the spine.  May ease backache. Can improve leg and abdominal tone.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Tadasana seems to be one of the safest postures to do – but as with all the poses of the week – only practice if you feel well and if the position feels comfortable for you to do.

PRACTICE: Stand with your heels directly underneath your sitting bones – a little narrower than your hips. Have the outside edges of your feet comfortably parallel. Take a moment to breath and then allow the lower half of your body to become heavier, so that the feet can really imprint themselves in the ground. In contrast to the earthing of the pelvis, feet and legs, the upper half of the body becomes lighter and is very much attracted upwards. Breathe easily and freely and enjoy the feeling of length and solidity…

pose of the week… angry cat – bidalasana…

BENEFITS: Increases flexibility of the spine. Tones and strengthens the abdominal and back muscles.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: If you have weak wrists or carpal tunnel syndrome, you might like to rest your forearms on some cushions or a low chair.  As with all poses of the week – if something doesn’t feel comfortable – don’t do it.

PRACTICE: Be on all fours making sure that the knees are directly underneath the hips and the hands are underneath the shoulders…. Spread the fingers wide with the thumbs reaching in towards each other. Take a moment to bring awareness to your breathing… The next time you breathe out imagine you are bringing your navel towards your spine and arch up. Then when you breathe in allow the belly to drop creating a downward arch. Be aware of keeping space at the back of the neck and not lifting the head too high.

Carry on arching up on the out breath and arching down on the in breath as long as it feels good for you to do…Finish on an upward arch breathing out….

Come to kneeling and rotate the wrists both ways. Then relax in Child’s posture for a few breaths…

pose of the week… little bridge – setu bandhasana

BENEFITS:  Lengthens the spine – especially in the lower back. Can help ease lower back ache.  Helps to open the front of the shoulders. Tones the abdominal muscles. Very relaxing and can relieve stress.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Most mother’s to be will find lying on the back, uncomfortable to do towards the end of pregnancy – anytime from 30 – 40 weeks. You will know when it isn’t beneficial for you and your baby, as you will feel very breathless and ‘have’ to roll over onto your side. As with all poses of the week, only practice if it feels good to do…

PRACTICE: Lying on your back, gently hug the knees towards you. This will give you a nice long spine.

Take a moment to breathe…

When you feel ready – the next time you breathe out,  place your feet on the ground about hip width apart, fairly close to your pelvis. Take a moment to establish the feeling of your feet on the ground…

On an exhalation emphasize your footprints – This will lighten the pelvis and bring the back of your waist to the floor.

When you breathe in – relax everything.

The next time you breathe out, push your feet into the ground a little more so that your pelvis begins to rise up with some of the lower spine. When you breathe in, come down vertebra, by vertebra until the pelvis is back down on the floor again and relax completely.

Carry on with these movements of pushing the feet into the ground as you breathe out and releasing everything as you breathe in.

To get even more space in the lower spine visualize the tailbone being pulled away as your pelvis rises up. Keep this image of the tailbone being pulled away as the hips come down as well.

Only go as high with the pelvis as feels comfortable and stop when you have had enough…

When you are finished, gently hug your knees towards you and take a gentle rock from side to side. Take a moment to breathe…