Stress can cause severe side effects like tense muscles, headaches and a loss of sleep – and that’s only naming a few! These side effects will do a number on your spine and can result in pain, inflammation and stiffness. If this sounds like something you deal with on a daily basis, take a moment to stop, breathe and regroup. Try going for a walk or stretching for a few minutes at your desk; or if you’re up to it, you can step away from your desk and try a few easy yoga poses. Yoga may seem intimidating for some, but there are many wonderful poses that can help you work your back muscles and focus on your breathing.
Here are 3 simple poses that work to strengthen and elongate your spine:
1. Child’s Pose is a great way to actively stretch your back. Start on your hands and knees and stretch your arms out in front of you. Bring your toes together and open your knees out to either side of your body. Slowly sit back until your glutes rest above your heels. Lower down as far as you can go, but don’t force it. Continue to reach your arms forward until you feel a continuous stretch that travels from your lower back, down to your fingers. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths. Repeat as many times as you need.
2. Downward-Facing Dog is a classic yoga pose that targets your back extensors – the muscles that help you stand and lift objects. Start on your hands and knees with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Tuck your toes and rest on the balls of your feet. Slowly push into the mat with your hands and lift your tailbone up so your body is forming an upside-down “V” shape. Spread your toes and fingers and actively push down into the floor. Relax your neck and hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths. Repeat this pose 5 to 7 times.
3. Triangle Pose helps to strengthen the back and legs while lengthening the muscles on the sides of your torso and along your outer hip. Start out standing with your feet in a wide, comfortable stance and your hands lifted overhead. Slowly lean your torso to the right and bring your hand down to touch your calf. If needed, you can bend your right knee slightly or bring your hand up to your knee. You should feel your muscles working in your legs, back and on the side of your torso. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side. You can use this pose as often as you like.
Be sure to breathe deeply through your nose during each pose. This will help stabilize your heartbeat and relieve tension. If you have a specific back condition, it is important that you speak with your physician prior to starting yoga or any exercise program. Once you get your physician’s approval, search around for yoga studios or exercise facilities in your area that offer an intro to yoga class or a beginner’s class. Talk to the instructor and make sure they can modify poses to cater to your medical needs. Also, remember to listen to your body and go at your own pace!
By taking a short break to breathe, stretch and gather your thoughts, you can help keep your mind focused and be more productive. Combined with proper hydration and a healthy eating routine, yoga can help you take the right steps toward improving your spine health.
5 Simple Yoga Poses for Back Pain. (n.d.). Retrieved from Spine Universe:http://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/exercise/5-simple-yoga-poses-back-…
Yoga for Back Problems. (n.d.). Retrieved from Spine-health: http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/yoga-pilates-tai-chi/yoga-back-prob…
Yoga for Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm