Unlike fitness and workout routines, yoga aims to supplement your lifestyle by strengthening and lengthening the muscles and connective tissues to enhance overall mobility.
How we move depends on how we take care of ourselves; we all have a signature style of movement that’s influenced by various external factors including but not limited to activity level, diet, location, relationships, work, and habitual patterns.
Spinal health and mobility is a crucial component to how we move and breathe as we age. Wear and tear on the body are inevitable, especially if we partake in extreme activities or perform the same habitual routines with our bodies repeatedly. Examples of habitual routines include sitting at an office desk, carrying your child on a hip, cycling to and from work, lifting heavy objects, carrying serving trays, and so on.
These active habits create imbalances in the body. We remedy imbalances in the body through intentional exercises such as strengthening and stretching.
A healthy spine equates to a healthy body!
Back strengthening AND lengthening support spinal mobility.
Lessen low back pain
The Practice with Clara method supports low back pain with three simple steps: stretch, strengthen, rest & recover.
Layering these three unique practices into your workout routine will lessen the chance of injury and keep your spine strong and supple.
Stretch and lengthen the muscles around the spine.
Here are the main muscle groups to stretch to ensure space and length in the low back:
- Hips – rectus femoris, iliacus, psoas, iliocapsularis, and sartorius muscle.
- Buttock – gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
- Side body – quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi, tensor fascia latae.
Strengthen the muscles around the spine to provide support to the low back.
Supporting the low back means strengthening the muscles along the spine. The core and back muscles become weak when we sit for long periods—and we are more of a ‘sits’ culture now than ever before! Stronger core and back muscles stabilize the pelvis and hips to decrease the risk of injury.
Strengthening the low back body and core muscle groups benefits athletes or individuals who train in other areas, such as runners and cyclists who depend on a stable core to support the activity.
For example, a cyclist who sits on a bike for many hours must maintain proper posture in the upper and lower back and shoulders to avoid injury. A strong core and associated stabilizing muscle groups are necessary to maintain proper posture for the ride’s total duration.
Here are the main muscle groups to provide strength and support in the low back:
- Core – traverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae.
- Back – lats, rhomboids, trapezius, erectors.
Recover and rest; give your body time to recuperate.
Any well-trained athlete will tell you that days off are vital to your overall health and progression. In the yoga practice, the most important pose is savasana; during rest, the body shifts from an active to a passive state where cellular regeneration is possible.
The longer the savasana, the better! And similar restful practices such as meditation, yoga Nidra, and body scan work to heal the mind and body during recovery.
Ways Meditation Prepares the Mind and Body for Recovery:
- Meditation works with the vagal tone, which is the activity of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve connects to the body’s primary organs, including the stomach, liver, heart, lungs, and brain, and controls the heart rate. By breathing deeply, we influence the vagus nerve and slow down the heart rate. A slower heart rate calms the body’s vital processes, including the busyness of the mind.
- Theta waves, which are the brainwaves associated with healing and the powers of the subconscious, are released during meditation, dreaming, and deep sleep. When theta waves are more active during meditation, it’s possible that the mind and body experience rejuvenation and growth. Theta waves help prevent burnout and healing from mental and physical stressors and are the source of our more creative and intuitive processes.
- During meditation, the release of feel-good hormones, serotonin, and dopamine may help with managing anxiety and intense emotions. The lessening of the stress hormone cortisol reduces tension and angst.
- Meditation boosts the immune system by decreasing the stressors on the body. When we hit the burnt-out zone, our immune system takes the hit and causes the body to become inflamed as a means to protect itself. Stress causes the body to stay in fight or flight mode, which affects the mind and body, causing anxiety, inflammation and other diseases. Meditation shifts the body from fight or flight, the sympathetic nervous system, into rest and digest, a function of the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s in rest and digest mode that we can recover and restore to a more balanced state.
- The muscles relax when we meditate. Where yoga actively stretches to release the muscles, meditation creates space for muscles to soften and relax. Deeper breathing and stillness slow the body’s processes down, so we might passively release any tension we’re holding in the body or mind.
Yoga to support the low back
On Practice with Clara, you choose from a selection of classes that vary in style, length, and level. We take care of the planning and preparation, so all you have to do is set up your yoga mat and select the class that suits what you need on any given day.
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