Yoga blog 23 January 2016 

In last week’s class, we thought about  how the spine moves when we are doing yoga . A typical yoga class will include forward bends and backbends, as well as side stretches and twists.

I usually start with a warm up on the floor, encouraging students to link movement of the spine with the breath. We might rock the pelvis gently back and forth following the inhale and exhale, or rock and roll on our backs, hugging in the knees.

We can then start to think about lengthening and extending the spine, and even growing taller. By mobilising the spine this way we also gently massage the discs between the vertebrae, helping to keep them healthy.  

However, the spine has natural curves along its length, and the aim of lengthening out isn’t to flatten out those curves, but to gain more space between the vertebrae. To extend from within.

The most important aspect of all extension postures is to bring the spine into maximum vertical alignment while integrating all the spinal curves without strain.

We worked on this further in the class by coming to kneeling, sitting on 2 or 3 yoga blocks. By feeling the sitting bones pressing firmly down, we then used the breath to flow the spine back and forth from curving over on the exhale, to opening up and lifting the chest on the inhale.

You don’t have to restrict your yoga to the times you are in class, or practising at home. You can bring this awaress of a health spine into daily life, perhaps at work in front of the computer, or sitting down on any long journey on the train or plane. Try lifting forward from the back of the seat, and engaging the core and spinal muscles to sit up taller.

It’s all too easy to collapse back into a chair, or slump in a seat,  allowing your posture to round over, and the muscles along the spine to weaken!