Shake off any debris, holiday excess, any deadweight and lets get spacious and invite in length and opening as we invite in the new year. That’s how we started class this week. Leaving behind anything not needed as we enter 2019.
This week’s class was about low back health. And we looked at 2 key aspects of protecting the low back. The first was lengthening. Working on lengthening the spine and using the legs, core and pelvis to protect the back. Practicing keeping the low back lengthening, we can reduce low back pain, we can reduce pressure on the disks, and we can watch for rounding. There is always going to be some rounding in daily living and even in yoga. Often what is happening is imbalances of muscles around the spine. And when muscles around the spine, hips and legs have some weakness, then the spine rounds to compensate. That leads us to the second key aspect.
This week we also focused on strengthening the hamstrings (and the glutes and their helpers). One thing that really keeps the low back from over-working is strong and pliable hamstrings. So in our sequence, I included some very specific hamstring strengtheners. Yoga often stretches the hamstrings, but they equally need to be strong. Class progressed though sun salutations, deep into standing poses. In half moon pose, I invited students to hover their bottom hand off the floor or block, if they wanted an extra challenge. By doing so, they strengthened their top side body, muscles under the ribcage that support the back. Warrior 3 founds students balancing in a pose that offers back strength and support. In tree pose, we “shook off the leaves” :)
Next came a prone backbend. Students squeezed their inner feet together, kept their palms on the earth outside their upper ribs and elevated their straight legs a little. A big challenge to the hamstrings. We did 3 rounds. Into a variation of dancer …. students stood upright, bent one leg, pressed their thigh back in space while kicking the bent leg heel to their butt. No grabbing the back foot with their hand. To stretch the hamstrings, parsvottanasana was included. After some core work and pigeon, we moved into a variation of bow pose. Yogis did not catch their feet with their hands. They bent their legs and tried to lift their thighs a little bit off the ground. No easy feat, but, yes, you guessed it ….more hamstring & glute power :) A solid savasana was offered and students relaxed into a deep well of being. Thanks for practicing, Lynn