You’re only as young as your spine is flexible!

“Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.”
– Bob Harper

What better way to look after your spine than to enjoy a session in our hot yoga studio? Making sure your muscles and joints can perform at their best will help you look after your back.

The vertebral column is  made up of 33 bones stacked on top of each other with bony prominences to allow for the attachment of the back muscles. One of its jobs is to protect the spinal cord which transmits the nerve impulses to muscles, prompting them to contract and move.

There are five regions of the vertebral column with different jobs to do, all working in harmony to keep us fit and flexible:

  • Cervical – these vertebrae support the head
  • Thoracic – these allow for the attachment of the ribs
  • Lumbar – this is your lower back
  • Sacral – these are very strong bones fused together to support the weight of the upper body
  • Coccyx – this is a small, triangular bone at the bottom of the spine

The vertebral column has a natural curve to it. Any imbalance in the muscles or  postural problems that cause this natural curve to go out of shape can cause problems, such as pain or a loss of movement.

Our everyday lives can place stress on our vertebral column, for instance, if we sit hunched over a computer for long periods of time. Yoga can help to reduce the effects of our busy lives, by allowing us time to concentrate on our posture and on getting our muscles perfectly balanced.

 

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme.

Camel

Ustrasana or Camel Pose is a fantastic pose that will strengthen your spine, engage your glutes and stretch your hamstrings. It will really increase your flexibility and mobility in your spine and prepare you for those deeper back bends.

While you’re learning, adapt this pose by tucking your toes under or using a block to support you. There’s no need to feel you need to go as far as I am: there are plenty of modifcations you can use to help develop your strength and flexibility.

Camel Pose is deeply energising. It creates space in the chest and allows you to really expand your lungs and increase your lung capacity. Make the most of this pose by breathing evenly and imagine the oxygen circulating round your body.

Strengthen and Relax with the Sphinx Yoga Pose

The sphinx pose is designed to strengthen your glutes and the whole of your spine; increase the flexibility of your shoulders and open your chest. This lovely, gentle back extension is a perfect way to start your yoga journey.

Our daily lives often create tension in our bodies. Our shoulders and spines are particularly vulnerable when we spend too long without taking a break, hunched over a computer, sitting behind the wheel of a car, or doing physical work such as lifting or gardening. Yoga is a great way to loosen up and reinvigorate our bodies and minds.

The sphinx pose will not only relax tense muscles, but will get you ready for some fantastic postures, for example, preparing you perfectly for deeper backbends, if that’s your goal.

In ancient Egypt, sphinxes were thought to have human heads, the hind legs of a lion, ferocious strength and benevolent temperaments. You’ll find these mythical creatures guarding the entrances to royal tombs and temples.

The Sanskrit name of this energising pose is Salmba Bhujangasna.

How to do The Sphinx

Lying in a nice prone position, line up your elbows with your shoulders, roll your shoulders back and down, then inhale and lift your upper body, taking the crown of your head up to the sky.

If you’re not sure you’re doing the pose correctly, want to learn more, or prefer to exercise with a supportive group, call in at your local hot yoga studio where a community of likeminded people will welcome you.

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as embarking on an exercise programme.

Yoga Your Way to a Healthy, Strong Spine!

Several years ago, I had a back injury and was diagnosed with a crumbling spine. I’ve always enjoyed exercise and have spent many years teaching in the fitness industry and training for my own enjoyment. As I lay on the trolley in Accident and Emergency I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without training and teaching.

It took quite a while for the pain to subside and during that time I had lots to reflect upon. Would it be the end of my career? Would I be in chronic pain all my life with reduced mobility?

I started to think about the things I enjoyed most – and got the most pleasure out of teaching. This was when the dream for my own yoga studio started to emerge.

Practising yoga has been my lifeline back to health, especially so in my hot yoga studio where flexibility is greatly enhanced in the hot environment. I’ve learned to manage my back injury, paying attention to the things that irritate it and the things that strengthen it. This raised awareness helps me demonstrate and teach at the level I do.

I’m not saying that yoga will work for everyone, but if you can find a great yoga teacher near you, you might be amazed, as I was, at the progress you can make and the reduction in pain it is possible to achieve. If you train with an expert who can quickly see exactly what you need to do and who will check your alignment in each posture, within weeks you will notice a difference.

The posture above is a seated twist or rotation called Ardha Matsyendrasana in Sanskrit or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. It’s one of many great postures for energising the spine and increasing flexibility in the shoulders and neck. Traditionally this pose is thought to destroy deadly diseases and awaken the energy at the base of your spine.

Please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle such as going on a diet or embarking on an exercise programme.