Body & Soul Magazine – Yoga for Back Pain

Eliza Hayward, yoga and meditation facilitator, retreat host, mentor and Lululemon ambassador founded Divine Flow Yoga. A transformative space that is grounded in the ancient tools and wisdom of yoga. Eliza seeks to create uplift in both mind and body so that anyone experiencing her classes can find a sense of inner steadiness and joy. divineflowyoga.com @divineflow_yoga

We are habitual by nature and our busy lifestyle can impede on both our mind and body awareness. Most of us find ourselves in a seated position for the majority of our day with the same posture tendencies day in and day out. When our movement is restricted it can create disease, this can also result in tightness or aggravation in both your upper and lower body. Being in a continuous hip compression (seated position) can result in back pain, rigidity or back tenderness. Adopting a daily yoga practice can not only enliven the body but help enhance physical alignment.

Follow this sequence of yoga postures to act like a remedy or tonic for back pain and help you to loosen tight muscles. These are not only accessible but sustainable when caring for back tenderness or acute pain.

We humans crave practice, ritual and routine and without moving the body and succumbing to a seat for the day with a lack of posture awareness the body can weaken resulting in tightened muscles. The best part of a lasting yoga practice is for it to help keep the physical body strong and mobile. The body is wildly intelligent, in how it processes, integrates and heals.

Start in a neutral place. Let your spine drop down with your arms and legs out wide. Feel the breath touch the spinal column. Use the next 10 minutes to flow with me.

Cat & Cow – Flush the cerebral fluids of the spine

From a neutral spine take an inhalation breath, surrender abdomen and lift tail. Exhale and push the floor away as you lift up through the shoulders, rounding the spine and curling your tailbone. Continue this movement with your breath for a few rounds. These two gentle postures are paired together to effortlessly energise the spine, massage lower organs, stimulate the kidneys and adrenals glands whilst creating a calming and emotional balance.

Low Lunge – release the muscles that bind within the hip flexor

Consciously shape your posture here. From a kneeling position lunge your left foot forward, creating an uplift in the spine with arms overhead. steady your gaze forward and sink your front knee to hover over your ankle. A lift of pelvic floor muscles and hug in your rib cage.

Now, feel into the opening of the front line of your body, in particular your hip flexors which are a group of muscles that help you to move your lower body. Hold this lunge to help release into your lower back and breathe into the space that you are creating.

Beginner Tip: Use a wall to help with balance and bring more stability and steadiness to your release.
Modification, add some padding underneath your knee to support the knee joint.

Thread the needle – An internal adaptation that boasts a gentle exchange

From all fours, transfer weight into your left hand and inhale to lift your right hand to the sky, thread your right arm under the left armpit and rest your right ear to the floor. Imagine the breath saturating your spine and releasing areas of stiffness across your right deep arm line. Spread the breath in the lower belly and lightly press down through the tops of your feet to encourage your hips to remain at center.

Not only does this bring calm into the body, you are tending to the full body as you lightly rotate the spine and open the shoulders, neck, arms and upper back.

Tip: those who suffer from any back, shoulder, neck or hip conditions should take care in this twist. Positioning a blanket underneath your knees can help to offer more support.

Sphinx – The heart offers energetic priority

Come to lie on your belly. Inhale to lift your upper torso and head off the floor. Press your forearms on the floor parallel from each other. Stack your shoulders above your elbows. Allow the shoulders to fall down and away from your head. Soften the neck here and release the jaw as you tenderly let go of any tension around your back.

With a soft gaze, trace the gentle backbend and feel the skin of the lower back squeeze together, helping to clear out old cortisol, adrenalin and chemicals that get stuck around your kidneys.

Tip: stay here for 10 breaths to energise your spine and feel more grounded.

Knees to chest – mobilise the contents of your diaphragm

Lie back in a constructed rest and then gather your knees into your chest by placing hands to shins. Lengthen your tailbone down and forward so your full spine imprints to the floor beneath you. Slightly tuck the chin so you gain length through the back of the neck.

Soothing as well as stretching the lower back whilst lengthening the spine.

Tip: breathe consciously and hold for 4-8 breaths, inhaling deeply into the belly and connecting with the elements of nourishment. You may find a gentle rock side to side will help massage the lower back and bring calm to the mind.

Supine Twists – Energise and Harmonise by Letting Go

Start with both knees in the chest and extend your left leg to the floor and twist your right knee over to touchdown or hover off the floor. Extend your right arm out to the side – optional: Allow gaze to follow and relax your line of sight here.

Quieten the mind as you take your longest breath here, further releasing any rigidity in the lower back as we work to elongate your spinal muscles and stimulate your digestion. Awareness into the chest and shoulders as you loop your shoulder blades down and back into the floor beneath you for further relaxation.

Tip: encourage both shoulders to imprint onto the floor.