Many adults today have back issues, particularly the lower back. Even children are beginning to suffer from the “technology slouch” that many of us adopt as we huddle over our computers, phones, and steering wheels. Several people close to me have back problems, and in talking to them about their experiences in physical therapy I realized that many of the exercises were based on yoga poses. They were prescribed modified versions of cat/cow, bridge, chair, sunbird, cobra, reclining twist, and reclining extended hand to big toe pose. Together these poses stretch and strengthen the spine in all directions. In yoga the importance of caring for your spine is always emphasized. I make a point to remind those in my adult classes to draw the shoulders down and back to open the chest, while at the same time tuck the tailbone and pull the belly in to protect the lower back. In my kids classes we also talk about sitting tall with a straight spine and the benefits of good posture. Louise Hay talks about how mental patterns can affect us physically and so we can use positive affirmations to reverse the process. Upper back issues may be linked to lack of love, mid-back issues to guilt, and lower back issues to financial insecurity. Opening the chest helps counteract our constant slouching as well as stimulate anahata, the heart chakra, which is connected to love and compassion. Drawing the belly in and up, or uddiyana bandha, helps to stabilize the lower and mid-back as well as stimulate manipura, the navel chakra, which is connected to self-esteem and discipline. So practicing yoga not only helps ease back pain on a physical level, it also goes deeper to help heal the energetic and emotional bodies. Remember, you only get one body, and your spine is the main support for its framework, so be kind to your back.
October 21, 2012