about your spineBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

The spine is one of the most important parts of the human body. The nervous system gathers, stores, and controls the body’s information through this key highway. The spine allows the body to analyze itself and initiate the proper response, which the central nervous system sends to the other parts of the body. When the spine is misaligned, it can throw the entire body into disarray. Through Hatha Yoga postures (asanas), you can lengthen, strengthen, and stretch your spine back into alignment, which brings one’s back into a proper state of health.

Many people do not realize that the spine can stretch and lengthen in two directions. The sacrum and the tailbone can move downwards while the lumbar spine and everything else extends upwards. By learning the natural curves of these two separate directions, the spinal column can be stretched to its maximum length.

Back injuries are the most common type of work-related injury. It may come from lifting a heavy object too quickly or without proper form. Additionally, one may experience pain, as a result of sitting with bad posture, or from sitting for long periods of time. Too many people think that this spinal pain is something that they just have to push through. In cases where there has not been extreme damage, Yoga may be extremely helpful in alleviating this pain, while preventing it from occurring regularly in the future.

Practicing Yoga poses, in order to stretch the spine, works in a multitude of ways. First, the poses strengthen the muscles around the spine, preventing injury in the future. Second, because the spine itself is more limber due to the stretching, the blood flow to the area is increased. This decreases the stress and pain within the area.

Suggested Yoga Postures for Spinal Health:

Forward Bend

Camel Pose

Half Chair Pose

Fish Pose

Seated Twists

Triangle Pose

Proper instruction, from a certified Yoga teacher, is advised before practicing independently.

Finally, Yoga that focuses on the back and spine promotes a healthier posture. In some cases, sitting too long can cause serious compression on the entire spinal structure. What this means is that people need to get away from sitting before major skeletal problems occur.

Problems, due to sitting too long, happen slowly; and most people do not realize it is happening until they begin to feel pain from it. After a couple weeks or months of Hatha Yoga sessions, it is possible that you may even gain a little height from stretching your spine.

When performing Yoga poses to stretch your spine, be sure to use caution. You do not want to push your body passed its limits. When Hatha Yoga movements and postures are performed responsibly, this gives a second life to one’s spinal health.

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