A huge percentage of the population will suffer from pain in their back at some point in their lives and the majority of this is felt in the lower back or ‘lumbar spine’. Yoga poses can be great at stretching out and moving the vertebrae relieving pain and stiffness at the back of the body however many yoga poses are strong forward bends and back bends and these can put extra pressure on the muscles surrounding the spine and actually do more harm than good. As a practitioner you must work out if yoga is healing or damaging your back and find professional medical support if the pain is not subsiding.
Everyone’s body is different and therefore it is very difficult to create a ‘one size fits all’ alignment list however in general the below points should help you protect your back as you go through your yoga poses.
- Keep the natural curve of your lumbar spine. Lengthen your tailbone down but do not tuck it under! You want neither a straight back or a very arched back but a neutral, natural spine.
- You must engage your core. Feel your hip bones squeeze towards each other and lift the public bone up towards your navel creating support for your spine at the front of the body.
- Lift up through the crown of the head to create space in between each vertebrae preventing the joints from pressing into one another.
- Do not let the rib cage to billow out.
- Ground down into your feet and micro bend your knees creating firm support from the base of the body allowing you to then lift up into a pose.
- Try and breathe into the back of the body creating space and awareness there.
- Go slowly! Avoid rushing into more challenging poses and risking causing more aggravation to your back. Go slow, use your breath and gently move into poses on an exhale.
Remember feeling challenge is ok but feeling pain is NOT. If you feel pain in any part of the body during your yoga practice back off what you are doing and let your teacher know.