Study of Yoga – Back Basics Part 1
Back pain can be debilitating. An estimated 80 per cent of us will experience some kind of back pain in our lifetime. If you already have some pain or problem in your back, regaining length and space in your spine can be the first step to feeling better. In this column, I’ll describe a few simple poses that can help your back start feeling better.
Lie on your back, press your feet against a wall and reach your arms away from the wall. Take about 10 breaths, rest, and do again. Let your breath feel as though it is filling your lungs from bottom to top on your inhale, and exhale from bottom to top. Continue to breathe in this manner through all these poses.
Supta Padangusthasana I (Reclined Foot to Big Toe Pose)
You’ll need a long strap or belt. Press your left foot into the wall. Bend your right leg and put the strap on the bottom of your right foot. Extend your right leg up, holding the strap with both hands. Open the back of the leg fully (no bend in the knee). Keep your left leg pushing into the wall, press the inner thigh down and keep your toes and knee pointing up. Lift the kneecaps of both legs to activate your quadricep muscles and stretch your hamstrings. Keep the sides of your torso equally long, dropping the right hip towards the wall if you need to.
Supta Padangusthasana II
Take the strap into your right hand, extending your left arm out to the side. Inhale deeply into your body, and on the exhale, extend your right leg up and out to the side, aiming your little toes towards the ground. Keep the left thigh and hip pressing down; use a block or low table to support your leg if needed. Hold for five breaths. Inhale to bring the leg back up, exhale and release the strap. Switch legs, doing I & II with your left leg in the strap.
Supta Padangusthasana III
Now take the strap to the bottom of your right foot once again. Reach your right leg into the air. Take the strap into your left hand and extend your right arm up overhead on the floor. Inhale, lengthening both sides of your body equally, and exhale. Roll your right leg over to the left side, coming onto the outside of your left hip. If you can, lower your right foot all the way to the floor, or support it on a block or low table. Lift up through your right arm and lower down through the outside of your right hip to traction your spine and right side of your lower back. Stay here for five to 10 breaths. Inhale to come up, switch the strap to the bottom of your left foot and do the other side.
I always find these simple moves to be effective in helping my back. Let me know how they work for you!