I am not sure who said this first, but my husband says it often, and he is absolutely correct. "You are only as young as your spine." Did you know that nearly 3 out of 10 U.S. adults – 72.3 million people – currently suffer from chronic low back pain, surpassing the number of Americans who have arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, according to a large new Harris Poll. Aug 11, 2022
That is a big number, and the reasons are pretty obvious. Sitting too long and not moving enough. Check out this article about the detriments of sitting too much.
If you practice yoga on a regular basis, you will notice an obvious difference when you miss your weekly classes. I teach and practice between five and ten classes a week, and when I fall short of those numbers, I feel the compression that I compare to someone standing on my shoulders. There is a big difference in my spine, length, and fluidity of movement.
This week's Vinyasa class is called FLUID SPINE.
Check out the postures focused on spine fluidity (flexibility, range of motion, and strength)
The goal of all postures and sequences is to move better without pain or restriction in everyday life.
I. Warm-up postures:
Supported bridge- placing a block (or several) under your sacrum (the flat part of your lower back)
Supported Savasana- from 1. extend legs out into a narrow star and extend hands over your head.
Flowing bridge - Remove the block and come down into a bridge set up with feet hip-width and fingertips able to make contact with your heels. Inhale as you lift your hips and arms over your head and as you exhale, articulate your spine one vertebrae at a time from your neck to your tailbone. (Think about rolling all the way down the spine, making contact with the mat as you unravel down to the mat. ) As you finish the roll down to the mat, your hands return to your sides.
Hold bridge pose and create a "shoulder shelf" by rolling your shoulders underneath and interlacing hands behind your back. Keep your thighs parallel and avoid letting gravity pull you down.
5. Apanasana- Bringing your knees up into your chest in a little ball (head remains on the
mat). From here, roll around massaging your lower back.
6. From 5. wrap your arms around your thighs, grabbing opposite elbows and lifting your head and chest toward your knees.
7. Roll up into Table Top- Stack shoulders over wrists and knees under hip bones. Inhale into cow pose by dropping your belly, sending your hips high, and opening your chest. Exhale into cat pose by rounding the spine, drawing your belly inward, and dropping your chin to your chest.
8. Camel pose
9. Childs pose
10. Downward facing Dog
11. Rag doll with shoulder stretch (center and opening right and left)
II. Sun A Variation
This Sun A variation incorporates an Astanga move called Knees-chest-chin, and then we transition into a Cobra pose by pulling everything through after knees-chest-chin. The Sun A looks like this starting from High Plank.
Exhale to High Plank (stay up on your toes or option to bring your knees to touch the mat)
Inhale to chaturanga (on toes or knees) and pause
Exhale send hips high and transitions into knees, chest, chin
Inhale using your arms to pull yourself through to cobra (the height of the cobra depends on how it feels in your lower back). Make sure to engage core muscles through this transition so as not to dump into the lower back.
Check it out here
III. Sun B poses to support Spine-health
Crescent Moon variations
2. Twisted Low Lunge /Fallen Lizard
3. Funky Warrior II (Warrior II feet meet down dog)
4. Arms lifted parallel in Wide Leg Forward Fold
5. Hands interlaced behind the head, elbows moving back in space in Goddess Squat.
Inhaling at the center and exhaling as you bring your elbow toward the knee.
6. Half floor bow in between sides and then finishing with full floor Bow (One of two peak poses in FLUID SPINE practice)
IV. Core/ Ab exercises - This section brings awareness to the low back and core connection and how to keep your lower back safe when doing core strengthening exercises. In-depth instruction/ action is required to perform correctly. For this class, I picked these exercises.
Supta baddha (butterfly) situps - Keep lower back pressing into the mat. Start with head and chest lifting and inhale here. As you exhale, lift up higher by engaging your core and actively pressing low back into the mat.
Supta baddha (butterfly) obliques- Start in the same position as 1. but lift feet and press toes together. Inhale as you lift up and exhale as you bend the side body bringing your elbow to your same knee. And repeat on the other side. Really focus on engaging the obliques
Supta baddha (butterfly) sequence
a. reach forward (rounding the lower back slightly)
b. Inhale to Come back to the center ex
c. exhale, slowly lower down onto your back
d. Inhale/exhale supta baddha bridge lift
e. inhale lower back down to the mat
f. exhale, come all the way back up to seated supta baddha and repeat a. through f
Video of above sequence
V. Peak Pose- Wheel (or modify with bridges). Practice two to three times. Option to use a wall with two blocks to practice Wheel.
VI. Restorative Warm down Asanas for spine
Holding Reclined Supta Baddha - A great neutralizer for the lower back.
Windshield wipers to spinal twist. (knee bent or strait or start in half dead bug and move into spinal twist as in the below picture)
Half Dead bug on both sides to flowing supine twist variation
Full Dead bug and/or Happy Baby