Unlocking The Power Of Yoga For Low Back Pain

by | Sep 2, 2017 | Yoga Teacher Continuing Education, Yoga Therapy

Unlocking the Power of Yoga Therapy for Low Back Pain

In the realm of yoga and holistic anatomy, the sacrum emerges as a pivotal element of the human spine. It not only facilitates rotation around the axis of the pelvis but also plays a vital role in maintaining our upright posture. The sacrum boasts a fascinating locking mechanism that prevents overextension of the spine, making it a unique bone. However, this area is also highly susceptible to injury, compounded by the common practice of bending with straight legs in physical education classes, potentially leading to low back discomfort.

If you’re grappling with low back pain, lean into yoga therapy to help support wellbeing in your spine. Yoga therapy can help you regain your mobility so you an move and breathe with ease.

Establish a Daily Routine

Prioritize strengthening and stabilizing your sacrum through a short daily routine. Consider the sacred position of the sacrum within the spine – it acts as a bridge between the tailbone and the heart-shaped hips, holding our body’s structure together. Just five minutes each morning and evening dedicated to safeguarding your lumbar spine can promote vitality and long-term health.

Select Counterbalancing Poses

Opt for poses that counteract each other, building strength and alleviating pressure. To begin, evaluate whether you experience tightness on one side of your body. Sacral sensitivity often manifests as tightness on one side, leading to a shift in the sacrum and compression of the sciatic nerve. On the opposite side, you might encounter weakness, inflammation, or referred pain due to the corner of the sacral bone pressing into the lumbar vertebra.

To address hip tightness that contributes to sacral tension, focus on bending your knees substantially during forward bends. The goal is to bring your torso close to your thighs. Stand with your legs hip-width apart, bend your knees deeply as if sinking into a chair pose, and rest your torso on your thighs. Inhale to create length, and as you exhale, fold forward. Gently sway from side to side, adjusting the bend in your knees and ensuring that you don’t feel any strain on your lumbar spine. If you do, bend your knee more and move your hip back. Extend your arms to achieve a downward-facing dog arm configuration. This approach fosters lateral side body lengthening and helps release sacral joint tension while stretching the gluteal muscles.

Sample Practice Sequence

Here’s a brief sequence that you can incorporate into your daily practice, lasting just five minutes:

  1. Begin with several rounds of cat and cow poses, focusing on spinal extension during inhales and spinal flexion during exhales.
  2. Transition to child’s pose for three breaths to set your intention for the practice, concentrating on lumbar spine awareness if that’s your goal.
  3. With your hands beside your knees, tuck your toes, and roll into a forward fold at the back of your mat. Bend your knees substantially as you rise to a standing position. Bring your hands through the heart center.
  4. Inhale, extend your arms upward, exhale, bend your knees first, and then fold forward. Inhale to lengthen, and exhale to fold. Inhale, stand tall, reach your arms up, and press your palms together. Exhale, bring your hands to your heart center.
  5. Repeat the above sequence several times to create a moving meditation.
  6. Transition to Warrior I with your right leg forward. Maintain the cactus arm position and engage the lower shoulder blade corner into your heart’s base. Exhale halfway, and then inhale to lengthen the right hip while exhaling to fold forward. Place your hands on either side of your right foot. If you feel discomfort in the back hip, walk your hands to the inside of the foot and towards the opposite corner of the mat. Breathe, directing your breath towards the side waist for length and the back hip for release.
  7. Inhale, lift your torso leading with the back of your heart, and complete this cycle three times. Gradually straighten the front leg with each forward fold, ensuring you don’t strain the hamstring attachment. Repeat the same sequence on the left side.
  8. Transition to a chair pose, and move into a figure four by crossing your right foot over your left thigh. Sit up straight and fold forward, paying attention to hip tightness. If you feel tension, walk your hands to the right to encourage lateral side body stretching. Repeat the process on the left side.
  9. Conclude the sequence with an isometric leg extension. Lie on your back with your left leg straight and your right leg in the air. Interlace your fingers behind your hamstring and simultaneously pull the leg towards your face while kicking your foot downwards. Work on moving your leg away from your body using your leg muscles and glutes, counteracting the pull towards your face with your arms. Extend your tail towards your heels.
  10. Transition to the other side: Lie on your back with your right leg straight and your left leg in the air. Interlace your fingers behind your hamstring and apply similar movements as described above. Extend your tail towards your heels.

Balancing Strength With Yoga Therapy

To maintain lumbar spine health, focus on strengthening the core, releasing lateral gluteal muscles, and building inner thigh strength. In cases of sacral sensitivity or SI joint imbalance, targeted exercises can help reduce inflammation and restore the sacrum to a healthier balance. This is where yoga therapy plays a crucial role. If you’re recovering from an SI imbalance, you may initially focus on strengthening to regain stability.

When pain or sciatic discomfort subsides, you can gradually shift your attention towards strengthening and stabilizing the region. Regular abdominal exercises are essential for rebuilding core strength, and backbends can be incorporated into your daily routine. Remember to listen to your body and follow your breath.

If you find that your efforts are exacerbating your condition, consider consulting with a yoga therapist or chiropractor to determine the next steps. Always honor your body’s signals and remain connected to your breath.

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