Yoga is a very popular and safe form of exercise. Many people think of yoga as a recreational activity, more like to relieve stress and tension but it can also help you with your back pain and maintain a healthy body. According to Jacobsen, “Yoga has five principal meanings:

  1. Yoga, as a discipline method for attaining a goal;
  2. Yoga, as techniques of controlling the body and the mind;
  3. Yoga, as a name of one of the schools or systems of philosophy (darśana);
  4. Yoga, in connection with other words, such as “hatha-, mantra-, and laya-,” referring to traditions specializing in particular techniques of yoga;
  5. Yoga, as the goal of Yoga practice.”

Yoga poses are known as asanas and are important because they help with stretch and strength of muscles. Although there’s more to yoga than breath control and meditation, although they are as essential as poses in yoga. This article highlights how yoga can be good for one’s spine-

Strengthening from holding yoga positions- Yoga helps increase strength in very specific muscles and muscle groups. Holding positions in yoga is not meant to be uncomfortable, however, it requires concentration and specific use of muscles throughout the body. Muscle strength usually improves by remaining in these yoga positions. Various postures in yoga gently strengthen the muscles in the back as well as abdominal muscles.

Stretching and relaxation from yoga- Yoga involves stretching and relaxation, it reduces tension in stress carrying muscles. It requires the individual to hold gentle poses anywhere from 10-60 seconds. In the pose, certain muscles flex, while another stretch, promoting relaxation and flexibility in muscles and joints.

Posture, Balance, and body alignment through yoga-  The yoga poses are meant to train the body to be healthy and supple. Constant practice and application will result in improved posture and increased balancing sense, with head, shoulders, and pelvis in proper alignment. In addition, unlike many other forms of exercise, yoga helps to stretch and strengthens both sides of both sides of the body in an equal manner. Proper body alignment and good posture will help maintain the natural curvature of the spine and is important for the reduction or avoidance of lower back pain.

Body awareness through yoga-  Specific positioning and repositioning limbers the body and also trains people to understand the limitations of their body. An increased awareness acts as a preventive measure, in that the individual will know what type of motions and postures should and should not be avoided.

There is this saying that you are only as young as your spine is flexible. If that is the case, the question is what should/can we minimally do every day to keep our spine as strong, flexible and healthy as possible

There are certain movements which the spine makes-

Flexion rounds the spine forward

Extension rounds the spine back

Rotation twists the spine

Side bending/Lateral flexion of the spine

Axial extension decompresses and vertically elongates the spine.

There are ways to keep your spine healthy, here are 5 poses which will help you keep a healthy spine-

Flexion- It is a movement which brings the spine down and forward towards the legs, and typically stretches the posterior chain. In yoga, spinal flexion is another way to refer to forward bends. Cat pose and child’s pose are the postures where the spine is in flexion and mostly rounded.

Extension- Spinal extension is a movement that lengthens the spine upwards and backward, otherwise known as backward bends in yoga, a spinal extension is a movement that lengthens the spine upwards and backward.

Lateral Flexion-Lateral flexion is a movement that bends the body to the right or left side. It helps to open up the side-body, strengthens the obliques, and is helpful in increasing flexibility of the spine. Lateral flexion also opens up the ribcage, helping to expand the lungs and aid in deeper breathing.

Axial Rotation-Axial rotation is a movement that revolves or twists the spine. It is an action in yoga that helps to lubricate the spine and increase its range of motion. Spinal twists are a great way to prepare the spine for spinal flexion or extension, and furthermore, can help neutralize the spine following flexion or extension.

 Twists-  Twists are postures that generally involve moving the shoulder girdle to face in an opposing direction in relation to the hips. There are different twists that target the upper, middle and lower portions of the torso, all having their own unique set of health benefits.

Back traction pose-

  1. After your last Pigeon, swing your back leg around and come onto your back, knees bent, feet under knees as if to prepare for a Bridge Pose. Grab your yoga block or if you don’t have one, a firmly-rolled yoga mat will do.
  2. Lift your hips, and place the block in the center of your hips (not low back). The block should be the skinny way, in the same direction as your spine, not wide across the hips like your pants line.
  3. Place your hips on the block and gently walk your feet wide. Knock your knees in towards one another for one minute to stretch across the sacrum, and then walk feet and knees together. Lift your knees over your hips until you can relax them but still stay suspended in the air.
  4. This pose will release your iliopsoas muscles, providing traction for the low back spine. After about 30 seconds or so, scoot your head further from the shoulders and rest for another 30 seconds. Return to the first variation, feet wide on the floor, knees closer, for a few breaths.

The health of the spine is of utmost importance to overall health and fitness. Stretching, healthy back yoga classes, and healthy back yoga classes are excellent ways to improve spinal flexibility. Unexpectedly, our arteries appear to benefit if we maintain these practices.

The benefits of yoga on the health of our nervous system and its control of our heart rate, it’s ability to lower our blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels and insulin secretion is well established. Maintaining and improving your spinal flexibility on the yoga mat will lead to many health benefits, including a youthful heart.