A flexible and aligned spine is literally the backbone of your health
. Balance, organ health, circulation, breathing, digestion and mobility—even your yoga practice—all depend on a healthy spine and aligned posture.
But the posture you have isn't necessarily the posture your body wants to hold. Over time, stress, impact sports such as running, obesity, ill fitting shoes or injury can knock your skeletal network out of alignment. The shift can be so subtle that you may come to think of that kink in your neck, achy knee or weak ankle as something you just have to accept as your normal posture.
An aligned skeleton is essential to hold and store energy so you can move more easily, stand more steadily and use your energy more efficiently.
Here are four exercises that will help you realign your body for overall spine and lower back flexibility. Try them and feel what difference a properly aligned spine can make throughout your entire body, and your daily routine!
Back rolling is an easy and fun way to use your own weight to massage, adjust and strengthen your entire back. It's also a great exercise to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back and tuck your knees toward your chest, wrapping your arms around your knees.
Take a deep inhale and slowly tilt backwards to create some momentum for rocking back and forth.
Try to get enough energy to roll, like a rocking chair, over your entire spine, from the top of your spine to your lumbar region.
Roll back and forth at least ten times. Then, while still curled up holding your knees with your arms, roll from side to side several times.
You can start with 10 rolls and adjust your speed and number of repetitions according to your energy level.
Holding your body stiff as a board is one of the best ways to strengthen the core—the muscles that connect the upper and lower body—as well as the shoulders, arms and glutes.
The pose requires no props and can be performed just about anywhere.
Front-facing Plank also builds your abdominals which is good for your lower back.
Because it puts most of your body weight on your upper arms and wrists, your lower spine has a chance to relax in weightlessness for a while.
Super Man pose
- Lie on your belly with legs straight and your feet together. Using your palms flat on the floor, with fingers pointed outward, slowly raise your upper body, head facing forward, and straighten your arms
- Place your feet together with your toes ground into the floor. Squeeze your glutes to stabilize your body. Be careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
- Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Your head should be in line with your spine
- Hold this pose, starting with 30 seconds to 1 minute, twice a day.. Adjust the duration according to your needs. Over time you can build up to holding this pose for 3-5 minutes or more.
is also an excellent spine-strengthening exercise to complement the Plank pose.
Head Lift is a good pose to do after Back Rolling to give your neck that extra adjustment after you've loosened up and realigned your spine and back muscles.
Simply lay on your back and place your palms one crossing over the other on the front of your neck. Inhale and gently press down into your chest. Slowly lift your head as you lightly massage your neck. This will help you release any residual stress in your neck or tension headaches.
Align your lumbar spine with this deep, restorative pose that opens both your chest and hips. Folding your legs, in lotus or half lotus posture, isn't just for meditation. It uses your leg bones to self-adjust your hip joints and pelvic bones.
The key is to hold this pose as long as you can without hurting yourself to give your muscles and connective tissue a chance to sink into alignment.
Add these exercises to your daily routine. Alone or in combination, they'll have you standing tall and feeling great!
Body & Brain yoga centers around the U.S. are holding free Back Health workshops
throughout the month of June! You can contact your local Body & Brain
center to receive on-site instruction and reserve your spot today!
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.