Yoga for Spinal Health

Related post = https://carolbaileyyoga.com/yoga-for-upper-back-thoracic-spine/

Look at an image of a bridge or an archway and what do you see? Strength, stability, strong curves. If you are like me, you see a spine!

Note how you sit during your day, how is your posture? I find myself at my desk or in front of the television with posture that is not ideal. The important thing to do is to become aware of it. Then make some movements like flexion, extension (think cat and cow) and side stretches and twists to move the spine. Even just reaching up with your arms for a stretch can feel amazing! Then try to sit with a neutral spine for a few minutes to honor your strong natural curves and improve your overall back and spinal health.

Posture Break (try for 5 minutes)

Sit on a chair or a floor cushion. Begin growing your tall spine from your pelvis. Sit a little ahead of your sit bones. In your mind’s eye, follow the curve of the lumbar(low back). Then to the thoracic of the upper back. Finally draw your head a little bit back in space so your ears better align over your shoulders. Small drop of the chin to elongate the back of the neck or cervical spine. Release your shoulder blades. Hands on your lap or on a cushion so your elbows fall under your shoulders. Take a few breath cycles here and see how you feel.

Merudanda mudra

  • Hand gesture for the spine. Meru is a sacred mountain considered to be the center of the universe. Danda means staff. So this is your spinal column, the central staff/axis of your physical body.
  • Its core quality is alignment. It enhances awareness of Earth to Sky axis, or think of upward and downward movement. (prana and apana vayus)
  • Curl fingers into your palm, point thumbs up to the ceiling.
  • Book Reference = Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph and Lilian LePage

Spinal Flossing or Neuromobilization

(from Your Spine, Your Yoga training with Bernie Clark via Yoga International)

Moving the entire nerve like a string, downward and upward. The spinal cord can move about a centimeter and a half. Nerves love to move and flow, so nerve health comes from mobility.

There are 3 ways to do this, see which one you enjoy the most! Seated in a chair, laying on your side, and finally kneeling in a table top position.

Chair

  1. The first shape is to straighten the leg (knee extension) as you flex the ankle (dorsiflexion). While you do this, tilt your head back (cervical spine extension). This pulls the spinal cord downward.
  2. The next shape is to bend the knee (flexion) and point the foot (plantarflexion). Do this as you drop your chin to your chest (cervical spine flexion). This does the reverse action, the spinal cord moves upward
  3. Sync the movements of the head and leg together. Move slowly.
  4. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Side-lying

  1. The first shape is to extend the leg forward (hip flexion) as you flex the ankle (dorsiflexion). While you do this, tilt your head back (cervical spine extension). This pulls the spinal cord downward.
  2. The next shape is to bend the knee (flexion) and draw the leg back (hip extension) and point the foot (plantarflexion). Do this as you drop your chin to your chest (cervical spine flexion). This does the reverse action, the spinal cord moves upward.
  3. Sync the movements of the head and leg together. Move slowly.
  4. Repeat laying on the opposite side.

Kneeling (Table Top)

  1. The first shape is to tuck your toes under and send your hips back like extended child’s pose. While you do this, look forward to the top of your mat (cervical spine extension). This pulls the spinal cord downward.
  2. The next shape is a kneeling plank with your hips moving forward and down while you point your feet (plantarflexion). Do this as you drop your chin to your chest (cervical spine flexion). This does the reverse action, the spinal cord moves upward.
  3. Sync the movements of the head and leg together. Move slowly.

Neck Flossing

  1. Extend your arm out to the side, start with your palm facing the ceiling and then go into wrist extension to point fingertips down to the floor. Turn your head towards your extended arm and drop your chin down slightly.
  2. The other arm will have fingertips to the top of the shoulder.
  3. To move to the other side, coordinate neck and arm movement together.
  4. Repeat back and forth moving slowly.
  5. With any movement, listen to your body and move in a pain free and strain free way.

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Book Reference = Your Spine, Your Yoga by Bernie Clark

Yoga for Spinal Health
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