Once You See The Rewards of Yoga, You’ll Hop on That Mat
You’ve probably noticed that yoga is being integrated into people’s lives at a high rate. Whether it’s food addictions or drug addictions, the medical industry will often suggest yoga to patients. Each pose has the ability to not only stretch and strengthen muscles but you also improve brain function. Through breathing and remaining in poses, you will feel an instant calm. When you’re calm, you can make better decisions which will equal better outcomes in your life. Poses for general problems you face every day will allow you to cope more effectively. You’ll also experience less pain from sitting or standing all day. Scientific studies are finding that there is a therapeutic benefit to doing yoga regularly. Yogis have known it for centuries but the medical field finally agrees. Here are some benefits you can expect when you maintain an easy daily yoga routine.
Yoga for Back Pain
Back pain is pretty common whether you’ve experienced an injury or it’s become strained through sitting at a desk. Studies are finding that one of the best ways to relieve your back pain is by stretching muscles that support the back or are connected to the back muscles. Also, by moving the spine gently, you maintain spine health and the muscles within the vertebrae.
Did you know your hamstrings can be partly to blame for lower back pain? Ham strings can get very tight from sitting in one position for long periods of time. Incorporating poses that address the direct pain of your back is important also. Yoga poses can target the direct area of pain and also offer more flexibility to other parts of the body that may be influencing back pain.
The Journal Archives of Internal Medicine did a study and found that those who do yoga will be two times more likely to cut back on opioid medication. Using yoga as an alternative to harmful addictive pain killers will allow for faster healing. An added bonus is that you’ll also ease your stress responses in the body so you’ll feel much more relaxed while you heal.
Child’s Pose for Lower Back Pain and Anxiety
Child’s Pose will not only relax you and make you feel safe, you’ll calm the mind. This is a wonderful pose to do after work. As you fold your body inwards, you send a message to your brain that you are safe and protected. You also give yourself a gentle lower back stretch and squeeze toxins from your organs.
Steps for Child’s Pose
- Sit on your heels and bend forward as you stretch your arms straight out in front. u.
- Bring your chest and head to the mat while your belly rests on your thighs.
- Breathe in to your lower back and feel the gentle stretch.
- You can stretch your arms out in front of you for an upper back stretch or let them fall beside you and backwards.
Pigeon Pose for a Deep Lower Back Stretch and Anxiety Relief
Pigeon pose is a great way to relieve back pain that is being caused by tight hips. Tight hips are physically associated to anxiety. When you release all the tension in the hips, you release the tension in other parts of your body that are associate with stress. Sitting at a desk all day can cause your hip flexor to get very tight. These muscles are related to your lower back to the point they could be pulling lower back muscles in a direction they aren’t meant to go.
Steps for Pigeon Pose:
- Start on your hands and knees.
- Bring the right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist.
- Put the ankle somewhere in front of your left hip. The more parallel your lower leg is with the front of the mat, the deeper the stretch will be.
- Slide the left leg back and align the knee with your hips as you point your toes.
- Ensure the leg is behind your body as opposed to drawing them outwards. The heel should point up to the ceiling.
- Draw legs towards each other to keep the hips square.
- Lower your upper down and keep your hips level. This may require a rolled up towel or bolster.
The Whole Back
Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog literally stretches and strengthens every part of your body. If there is one pose you should do daily, it’s this one. It’s a quick fix for a slumping back and straightens out your back from the hunching position. It stretches out your ham strings and side body, promoting better posture while standing. You strengthen your shoulders, arms and upper back while giving the calves a deep stretch. It also helps cleanse toxins from your internal organs. Stress can cause blood to become stagnant in the abdominal organs, Downward Facing Dog can correct that.
Steps to do Downward Facing Dog
- Start on your hands and knees, spreading your palms wide with shoulders stacked over your wrists.
- Curl the toes under and walk the palms just in front of your shoulders.
- Put weight into your hands and raise knees off the mat. Shift your belly toward your thighs.
- Lift hips up high and imagine your tail bone reaching for the sky.
- Try to straighten your legs but leave a micro bend at the knees.
- Reach the heels towards the mat and “walk the dog” if you need to help your legs stretch.
- Hold this pose for 5-10 deep breaths.
Life is hectic. Anxiety has become a major part of people’s lives. When it’s unattended and left to worsen, most people will seek out medication to reduce their suffering. It’s common. It’s what we’re directed to do. The problem is, you haven’t targeted the problem. The minute you get off anti-anxiety medications, you’re in the same position. In fact, you may experience more anxious feelings. There are about half of the adults in the U.S. using medication for either anxiety or depression. Yoga is a way you can manage stress and anxiety. It does work differently than pain medication because you’re not masking the problem. You’re learning to accept the part of yourself that gets stressed and manage it within your life. Breath of fire can profoundly relax your whole body down to a cellular level. There are poses and breathing exercises that can help you immediately. Some poses are also useful to help you slowly heal from many years of anxiety.
Bridge Pose for Opening the Heart so You Can Breathe
Beautiful bridge pose. The heart opener. It gives you a lot of space in the cardiovascular system so you can take deep breaths. Deep breathing has been shown to reduce anxiety at a deep level. As you perform bridge pose, you can super charge it by breathing into your belly. Being a part of the back bend family, you also release emotions that may be causing anxiety. As we hold onto unwanted emotions, our bodies tend to be in constant turmoil as we protect ourselves from pain. Bridge pose can help you release that. Did we mention that this poses switches your blood flow. As a result you stimulate your Parasympathetic Nervous System. This is the part of you that promotes calmness within.
Steps for Bridge Pose
- Start on the floor on your back with knees bent.
- Set your feet on the floor as close to the sitting bones as possible.
- Press your feet and arms into the floor and push the tailbone towards the pubis.
- Keep thighs and inner feet parallel.
- Tuck your shoulders under your body and clasp hands below your pelvis.
- Keep your knees directly over the heels and push them forward away from the hips.
- Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Focus on breathing into your belly.
- To get out of the pose, roll your spine back down, one vertebrae at a time.
These poses will take up about 15 minutes of your morning or evening but the benefits you get from them will last all day. You’ll begin to notice immediate changes in your anxiety levels and how your body feels. Studies have stated that the benefits of yoga really affect you when you practice daily.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)