By Caroline on the May 11, 2016 back pain

One in 7 Australians report back pain and as a result 2 in 5 experience some limitation in their day to day life (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012). Many use medication, however increasingly people are coming to yoga to promote easeful movement.Many now use meditation to assist with mindful awareness and pain management. When you cannot get to class or onto your mat, there are many things you CAN do during your day…

Please note that the information below is general guidance only and does not replace the opinion or involvement of a healthcare professional.

  1. Remember your posture – Easefully lengthening your spinal column in sitting or standing, with an awareness to inhalation as energy draws upwards from your feet and lengthens your neck, can reduce pressure on your spinal column. The spinal nerves leave the spinal column near the vertebrae (small bones that make up your spine) and any compression here can bring pain. Your whole body opens up on inhalation bringing in more oxygen and with exhalation comes a feeling of release, letting go. So on exhalation direct your attention to any bodily tightness imagining deep release, without losing your posture.

  2. Find that corset  – A strong and stable core assists us to remain on centre. Engaging your core can be likened to wearing a corset – our core muscles support our trunk like a corset, to protect the spine from shearing forces and other injuries. To bring awareness to these deeper muscles, an effective image I use with students is to imagine holding a 20 cent piece lightly at your belly button, breathing, without dropping the 20c! Another image is to imagine you are drawing a bubble up through your pelvic floor without bursting it. Remember it is a gentle contraction. These practices may seem simple, however it takes time to embrace the subtlety whilst sitting, standing, moving.

  3. Take a deeper out-breath – Stress is often stored in your body as tension and this can relate to where you ‘feel’ your discomfort. For example, you may experience headaches, however find that by releasing tension in the jaw & neck, the intensity of the headache decreases, as does the likelihood of further headaches. Taking a deeper out-breath (exhalation) has a direct effect on the calming aspect of your nervous system. This has been directly linked to the ‘relaxation response’, often accompanied by a sense of contentment. So next time you ‘feel’ your back niggling, keep taking your mind’s eye to each exhalation.

  4. Cat/cow pose using the wall – Much as we may like to do yoga poses whenever we like, this is not always possible. An option to practising cat/cow on your yoga mat, a classic yoga practice for flexing and extending the spine, is the same practice with finger-tips on the wall (a bit above shoulder height) or from standing with knees bent and hands supported on the thighs. All the above principles apply and be mindful of practising if dizzy or nauseous.

  5. Lengthen surrounding muscles – One of the classic yoga poses, downward facing dog (ardho mukha svanasana) has the effect of lengthening your hamstrings and calves, which when tight can pull on your lower back muscles causing discomfort and pain. If you feel a little self-conscious doing downdog in an empty meeting room or the airport lounge (I don’t!), take a walk. Even a short walk to the printer or water cooler will get your hips and pelvis moving, elongating muscles in your legs (amongst other places!) and free up stiffness in the torso. You may even return with an improved posture.

    If you wish to learn in-depth yoga strategies to ease your back, neck and shoulders, with the guidance of a Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher join me..


    BACK to basics
    – Care for your back: 6-week course commencing Friday 20 May @ 9.30 – 11AM

Approaching the practice with a specific therapeutic focus, these 6-week yoga courses are a tailored and safe way to tone, stabalise and strengthen, to reduce stiffness, pain & immobility. By deepening the mind/body connection & capacity of the breath, your health, healing and well-being are promoted. Handouts included to encourage your home practice. Some experience with yoga is helpful but not essential. Click on 20 May on the Timetable to book in and pay. Space limited due to the nature of this course.

6 Responses to “5 yoga tips for your back – no mat required!”

  1. Love the blog and your generous sharing of health tips for a healthy back. Clear and easy-to-understand instructions and techniques. Thanks again Caroline.

    • You’re a gem Jacqui! Thanks as always for taking the time to read and comment. I’m glad it was useful. Om Shanthi

  2. Very useful tips in the blog. Have used it when i have a seat on tram to relax and correct posture travelling to work. As always succint amd clear words Caroline. Thanks

    • That’s great the tips have been helpful in the day-day Nigel. Taking ‘yoga’ off the mat is a wonderful way to continue this awareness. Thanks for your time to comment. Om Caroline

  3. Thanks, Caroline, Much of your advice is also relevant to neck and shoulder pain. Good posture, working your core, taking breaks to de-stress … It’s easy to reach for the Panadol but learning ways to manage your pain through exercises and stretches is really important. Some days I find it such a drag doing all my damn exercises but I know I just have to keep at it. And it’s cheaper than paying to see a physio every week! 🙂 (Maybe you can write about some neck and shoulder pain tips next?!)

    • Yes people forget that the neck is also part of the spinal column! My recent ‘Back to basics’ therapeutic course had some practices for shoulders and neck – happy to share some tips! And yes doing exercises alone is boring – come to class!! Thanks for your time. Om om

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