I’m expected to answer this in the affirmative seeing as I teach yoga. But I really have to be honest here. As a qualified and experienced yoga instructor I’ve been passionate about yoga for decades and it is, quite honestly, my obsession. But is it good for my back?
You see most yoga exercises are based on the idea that the spine is meant to flex. And it’s true that a healthy spine should be able to flow with ease through a full range of motion without catching. However, your spine is not meant to be overly flexible. Those amazing positions yoga practitioners and dancers push their bodies into are often inviting tissue inflammation, disc compression and injury. And let’s face it, even though the teacher says “listen to your body”, we are all by nature more than a bit competitive. We think that by going further, pushing harder, reaching higher we’ll get there! But often all we get is a soft tissue injury.
So what’s the answer? And I have to say I learned this the hard way after years of pain with a lower back injury. I was devastated when I eventually had to give up most of my yoga practise because I finally had to admit that it just made it worse. My practice was reduced to a couple of exercises that worked to ease the nagging nerve pain in my lower back. I learned so much about how back pain narrows your life down to a few safe activities, saps your energy, how it can delete your confidence and just how scary that is.
If we hang onto this attitude of achievement we run into problems, we sacrifice the body for the pose. When you do your practise, even in a class situation, be mindful of your lumbar curve, and if you are experiencing twinges definitely avoid flexing your spine. That is, bending forward and bowing your back. When you bend forward learn to hinge from the hip joint keeping your lumbar curve. It’s in that striving to reach our toes that we too easily exacerbate back problems. Forget your toes! Stay with your spine and what it needs. Take it easy, don’t aggressively push your body into positions, and above all remember yoga is not a competition.
Most of has have dysfunctional patterns of movement and poor postural habits. Our body signature. And we inevitably bring these same habits into our exercise routine.
In fact the majority of people who exercise to get fit experience injury and suffer inflammation and often chronic pain. What’s missing is our understanding of what systems in our body create stability and support for all of the body’s systems so that we can avoid theses injuries. The old mantra of no pain no gain is generally understood these days to be outdated. I see so many clients weekly with sports injuries who have chronic inflammation, postural issues, and injuries caused by poor movement habits. We often suffer in silence. After all isn’t exercise meant to be good for you? Maybe if I just get that difficult exercise exactly right all will be well. Or maybe I shouldn’t be so lazy….maybe I should do more!
Your body is molded by what you do
When we sit at a computer, in front of a TV screen, in a car, for too long with our head forward the result is a shortening of the Myofascia or connective tissue along the front of your body. You will also experience your upper back and neck becoming strained due to supporting the weight of your head in a dysfunctional way. It then becomes more difficult to “straighten up”. And the effect doesn’t stop there, you will probably will throw your pelvis forward as a counter balance and cause a change in the lumbar curve resulting in disc compression. Sitting with the spine in a flexed or forward position for long periods will inevitably cause stiffness and poor movement patterns.
Sitting at your desk for long periods increases pressure on your lower back and results in poor circulation to the muscles, causing back spasms and all too often disc problems. All this sitting, driving and a generally sedentary lifestyle puts an enormous load on the discs in your lower back and we find that the muscles that are designed to support us upright have weakened. We’ll often compensate for these muscular weaknesses by locking the knee joints and using our thighs to brace us into a standing position while the buttocks and lower back muscles go virtually unused. A head forward posture rounds your upper back and places enormous stresses on the Cervical and Lumbar areas of your spine. We go from work to exercise class unconsciously bringing the poor movement pattern that has become ingrained with us.
New research shows that in fact it’s not the Musculo-skeletal system as we have traditionally thought that supports us. In fact what’s most important is the health of your connective tissue system, your Myofascia, because it is the support system all the other systems of your body rely on for stability, support and hydration. And combined with a healthy nervous system a healthy Myofascial system is what is going to maintain you in good health for life.
Myofascia is the dense, tough tissue which surrounds and covers all of your muscles and bones. This outer fascial covering is very strong and very flexible. It actually has a tensile strength of over 2000 pounds. At the microscopic level myofascia resembles a spider web or fairy floss. It is very flexible when healthy and is often called the Myofascial Web which runs from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes. It is continuous, has no beginning or end and can be found almost everywhere in your body. It is like a continuous weave of material and, like a pulled thread, damage to one area of Myofascia can effect other quite distant areas in your body.
In it’s healthy state your fascia is relaxed and soft and has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. When you experience physical trauma or inflammation your fascia loses its pliability. It can become tight, restricted and a source of tension throughout the rest of the body. Healthy Myofascia helps to maintain good posture, range of motion and flexibility. It also gives your body strength and helps you deal with stress and injuries.
Because our postural habits over a lifetime of misuse create many areas of tightness through the Myofascial Meridians I have found integrating an understanding of the Myofascia and it’s role in supporting our structure to to be highly effective in both preventing and treating chronic pain.
We know our alignment and posture contribute to overall health and our ability to avoid injury. Good posture will place a lot less strain on your spine when you engage in sports and daily activities like lifting little ones, carrying shopping, driving your car! On the other hand poor posture decreases your joint flexibility and causes discomfort when you move. Your poor postural habits are most likely a big contributor to your back pain and can lead to increased risk of injury. And your Myofascial fitness is the key to supporting your whole structure, all your body’s systems and keeping your body hydrated and pain free. I’ll be talking more about how you can effectively release these restrictions and change unconscious movement habits next time.
Lai Morris is a Yoga Instructor & Bodyworker who is on a mission to empower back pain sufferers to re-educate their body to be balanced and pain free. She is equally passionate about promoting health and wellbeing through Myofascial Therapies. She is an experienced therapist and works with small groups and individuals educating people on how to change their movement patterns and improve their Myofascial fitness.
Do you crave chocolate? The raw form of chocolate, Cacao, is a source of Magnesium and stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, the two chemicals that naturally boost our happiness and energy levels! How cool is that?
Raw cacao has a long list of amazing health benefits including:
Try this fast and easy to make smoothie for a boost of anti-oxidants and all the benefits of Cacao.
CACAO AND BERRY SMOOTHIE
- 1 cup Cow's milk/ Coconut milk/ or Almond milk
- 1/2 tablespoon raw Cacao powder
- 1 cup of ripe Raspberries or Blueberries
- 1 Banana - Blend and enjoy!
Do you find yourself lying down to sleep , turning the lights off and being unable to switch off your mind? Or waking in the early hours, unable to sleep deeply because your mind is in turmoil? Quieting your mind can often be a challenge.
Binaural Beats or “binaural tones” are an auditory effect that is created in the brain when two tones of slightly different frequencies are played separately into each ear. This effect was discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove and is now commonly used with great effect to create audio technology that enhances relaxation.
Binaural Beats are embedded in music in such a way that they bring about desirable changes in brainwave activity, and encouraging various states of relaxation, deep meditation or sleep. When played with headphones, you may be able to hear the binaural beats as a subtle pulsing sound beneath the music.
These Binaural Beats cause the brain of the listener to adjust its dominant frequency to match the frequency of the binaural beat. This is what is known as the “frequency following response”. Music containing Binaural Beats is most effective when experienced through headphones. A great way to slide into sleep without effort!
Binaural Beats and subtle music, along with gentle instructions for releasing tension and deepening your breath, support you to slide effortlessly into a calmer breathing pattern and a deeper sleep.
We may start our work day with the best intentions, ergonomic keyboards, lumbar support, optimism even. But that sinking feeling is almost inevitable, and Smart Phones are adding more stress to our spine than ever.
If you have a stiff or sore neck, burning between your shoulder blades, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff issues, headaches, frozen shoulder, lower back pain, sciatic pain, the list goes on, you may be experiencing Computer Syndrome. These symptoms are often caused by a sedentary lifestyle and the problem of excessive computer and smart phone use where we sit for long periods with our spine flexed and head forward. Sitting for long periods increases the pressure on your lower back, restricts the circulation to the muscles and can result in back spasms and disc compression.
Over time we find that the muscles that we use to support us upright have weakened. We'll often compensate for these muscular weaknesses by locking the knee joints and using our thighs to brace us when we stand while the buttocks and lower back muscles go almost unused. The result? Stiffness, poor movement patterns and PAIN.
Even when not sitting using a computer we are hooked into our Smart Phone - adding extra stress to the back muscles.
Magnesium is a master mineral and getting enough is one of the keys to good health.
Unfortunately most soil, therefore the food we grow, and our bodies, are severely deficient in magnesium.
Every cell in the human body needs adequate Magnesium to function - it is essential for your energy, cell growth, nerves, muscles, and heart and also helps you to relax both physically and mentally. Strong bones and teeth, balanced hormones, a healthy nervous system, a healthy cardiovascular system and much more depend upon cellular magnesium.
Magnesium is a difficult mineral to supplement orally because most magnesium salts taken orally have a laxative effect. So the question is how can we get enough magnesium when our food and our bodies are so deficient? If you live near the ocean, a daily swim can help provide some magnesium and other minerals through your skin.
If you are not near the ocean then Magnesium Oil applied to your skin is a great way to ensure your body has adequate Magnesium for optimal health.
Qi Vegan Collagen Renewal Serum
Qi Lime Caviar Hydrating Face Cream 50ml