The spine is one of the most complex and interesting structures in the human body. When it is aligned, movement is free flowing and graceful, but when it is not, the body will attempt to hold itself upright by overusing ligaments and muscles. This kind of compensation causes a build up of tension, not only in the back but usually in other areas of the body too. Tiredness levels and the likelihood of muscle spasms can increase if we are misaligned – maintaining a healthy spine should be one of our priorities – noting that as easy as a 5 minute morning routine to articulate the spine can awake you for the day!
A little bit about your spine…
The spinal column is made up of 32 bones (vertebrae) arranged into four, curving, sections. The cervical (neck), thoracic (middle back), lumbar (lower back) and sacroccygeal (pelvis). Each section is slightly curved to support the weight of our bodies, any increase or decrease in these curves will cause an uneven weight distribution and a build up of tension.
As well as supporting us, our spines also protects the spinal cord of the nervous system. This system is responsible for sending, receiving and interpreting information from all over the body. A regular yoga practice can help strength and support the spine, encouraging correct alignment and ensuring the safety of your central nervous system.
Yoga and the Spine
Yoga recognises the importance of the spine in our mental and physical wellbeing. A healthy spine is strong and flexible, it is able to maintain the correct alignment when sitting, standing or walking. If well-looked after, as we progress through life it can help to prevent weakness around the body and problems in the nervous system.
Yoga is part of this prevention process. The spine is surrounded by a strong and dense network of muscles that support it and help it to move in different ways. The bending and twisting in our yoga practice improves blood circulation to these muscles , nourishing and building strength. Below are 4 ways that yoga stretches, strengthens and protects the spine and the central nervous system.
The 4 Movement Directions of the Spine
This is an arching of the spine, like in cat pose. This kind of movement lengthens the spine and facilitates deep breathing for a more relaxed state of mind.
The opposite of extension, like in cow pose. By extending we expand the back body, stretching the spine and the back of the lungs. For a deeper version of this, come into pachimotanasana, a seated forward fold, of utanasana, a standing forward bend.
Lateral Side Bending
This is lengthening the spine and bending up and over to the left or right. This stretches our side bodies and improves rib cage mobility, helping to open and clear out any stuck energy in our mid bodies.
Twisting the spine helps to fight against fusing and limited mobility of the vertebrae. In turn, it also massages our internal organs and helps to support a healthy digestive system. It is very important to lengthen the spine before twisting, to nourish and hydrate the space between the vertebrae.
Yoga helps combat any stresses which impinge on the spine from our generations daily activities consisting mostly of maybe driving, sitting hunched over at desks or looking at our devices. In order to maintain a healthy spine, we need to form a productive relationship with it. Through yoga we can care for and look after our spine, so that it can support us throughout or lives. A happy healthy spine, is a happy, healthy body! my twopence for today 🙂
Big love Jo&J xxx