Regular yoga practice has been shown to improve many aspects of health, and many individuals seek it out specifically to address musculoskeletal issues
Asana, yoga's physical practice, has practitioners assume various static and moving postures to increase their strength and range of motion.
Without a doubt, this has substantial benefits for the body and the spine in particular. This is because when the abdominal and deep core muscles are trained alongside the muscles that support the spine and its connective tissues, a functionally integrated and mechanically efficient unit is formed from which excellent patterns of movement emerge. However, before diving into the postures, it's helpful to review the spine's fundamental anatomy.
Anatomy of Spine
One of the most crucial components of your body is your spine. You couldn't stay upright or even stand up without it. It provides structure and support to your body. It enables you to move freely and bend with flexibility. The spine is also intended to safeguard your spinal cord. The spinal cord is a nerve column that links your brain to the rest of your body and allows you to regulate your motions. You couldn't move any part of your body and your organs couldn't operate if you didn't have a spinal cord. This is why maintaining a healthy spine is critical if you wish to live an active life.
What exactly is the spine? Your spine comprises 24 small bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of each other to create the spinal column. Between each vertebra is a soft, gel-like cushion called a disc that helps absorb pressure and keeps the bones from rubbing against each other. Each vertebra is held to the others by groups of ligaments. Ligaments connect bones to bones; tendons connect muscles to bones. Some tendons fasten muscles to the vertebrae. The spinal column also has real joints (just like the knee or elbow or any other joints) called facet joints. The facet joints link the vertebrae together and give them the flexibility to move against each other.
When stacked, the vertebrae create a hollow tube that houses and protects the spinal cord and all of its nerve roots. The spinal cord is made up of a dense network of nerve cells that relays information between the brain and the rest of the body. One's nerves are crucial to bodily function. There are 31 sets of nerves that branch out from the spine. These roots leave the spine via openings (neural foramina) on each side.
The spine is divided into three segments the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine. The cervical spine is comprised of seven vertebrae and is located at the top of the spine (bones). The thoracic spine is made up of 12 vertebrae and is located in the middle of the spine. The lumbar spine is the bottom part of the spine. It is generally composed of five vertebrae, although some persons have six. Having six vertebrae does not seem to be a concern. The sacrum is located below the lumbar spine. The sacrum is a collection of specialised vertebrae that links the spine to the pelvis. During development (the nine months before birth), these vertebrae grow together or fuse, forming one enormous "specialised" vertebral bone that forms the base of your spine and the center of your pelvis. The nerves that exit the spine in the sacral region govern bowel and bladder processes and provide sensation (feeling) to the crotch area.
When seen from the side, the typical spine exhibits an "S" curvature. This provides for an equitable distribution of weight. The "S" curve helps a healthy spine resist all types of stress. The cervical spine bends slightly inward, the thoracic spine curls outward, and the lumbar spine curves inward. Even though the lowest half of your spine bears the majority of your body's weight, each segment depends on the strength of the others to operate effectively.
Yoga and Spine
There has to be a strong focus on maintaining a healthy spine in any training or yoga practice. In turn, this boosts our confidence by making us feel physically stronger and more capable of engaging in rewarding activities and making new friends. On a deeper spiritual level, a strong back indicates that one of our seven energy centres, the Root Chakra (Muladhara), is in harmony, providing us with a sense of security and stability.
When we have problems with our spine that cause us pain or discomfort, it may go the other way and become actually unstable, which can have devastating effects on our bodies and minds. That's why it's so important to take care of our backs.
Achieving a healthy and balanced movement pattern is the most efficient method for maintaining back and spine health. To do this, it is helpful to perform yoga poses that target the spine and the muscles and connective tissue that surround it in order to increase flexibility, strength, and range of motion.
These are all-natural movements of the spine but in our daily life, it is easy to do too much of one movement and not enough of the other, leading us to physical imbalances. Articulation of the spine, such as that shown in ‘Uttanasana' below, is also an important movement for the spine as it helps to keep healthy mobility of the middle (thoracic) spine.
Video Source https://www.flowyogiflow.com/blog/2020/1/28/how-to-tadasana-uttanasana-aunstackingdha-uttanassana
You can get your spine nice and warmed up by doing this. Maintain a posture in which your feet are parallel and hip-width apart. Slightly flex the knees, tighten the abs just a bit, and tuck the pelvis under.
Allow the neck to completely relax so the chin drops to the chest and start to roll down through the spine slowly with the arms completely relaxed. When the hands are about knee height (or lower if your body allows it), start to roll back up to standing, keeping the knees slightly bent. A visualisation that may help you with this movement is to imagine you are un-staking the spine, and restacking it as you roll back up.
Repeat 2-3 times
The thoracic spine, in particular, benefits from this light motion since it increases range of motion. It's also a great way to loosen up your hamstrings and back muscles (particularly your spinal extensors). As an added bonus, spinal rolling is a soothing mental action that boosts body and posture awareness.
Ardha Chandrasana (Crescent Moon)
video Source: https://www.menflowyoga.com
Reach your arms upwards in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), interlace your fingers, and point your index finger skyward. The shoulders should be brought down and away from the ears and the pelvis should be tucked under slightly. Chin should be level with the floor. Achieve a firm base and reach your whole body upward. Exhaling, bend to one side while keeping the spine lifted, particularly through the lower back. Keep that position for five deep breaths, then switch sides and do it again.
Repeat 2-3 times
One advantage of this position is that it promotes lateral flexion (bending over to one side) of the spine. Aside from asana, this isn't a common motion, but it's important for the middle back, rib cage, and connective tissue all around them to be mobile and healthy.
Utkanasana (Chair Pose)
Video source: https://youtu.be/4xyTmX_OMiM
Start in Tadasana with your feet together, and as you exhale, bend your knees until you are in a squat posture. At the same moment, raise your arms till they're parallel to your ears. The hands are shoulder-width distance apart. Keep the chest up and the chin parallel to the floor as you bring the shoulders down and away from the ears and press the thighs together to stretch the spine. Maintain the position for five deep breaths.
Repeat 2-3 times
Exercises the spine, hips, and chest muscles. Helps strengthen the lower back and torso, Tones the thigh, ankle, leg, and knee muscles. Balances the body and brings determination to the mind
Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle)
Vidoe source: https://www.kinoyoga.com
Step your feet about a meter apart and lay your hands on your hip bones. Turn the left foot 45 degrees to the right and the right foot 90 degrees to the right.
Align the right and left heels together. Turn your torso and hips to the right and stretch your spine forward until your upper body is parallel to the ground. Bring your left hand down to your shins or onto a yoga block (positioned against your inner right foot).
Extend the right arm and twist the body such that the right shoulder stacks on top of the left. Maintain a straight line between the chin and the sternum. Hold for five breaths and then switch sides.
Repeat 2-3 times
This asana firmly rotates the spine, particularly the middle spine. Because this posture involves balance, the spinal stabilisers are strengthened as they try to support the spine.
Video source: https://www.theartofliving.com
Lay face down with your knees together and your hands on each side of your chest, arms placed on the rib cage. To engage the legs and gluteal muscles, press the tops of the feet against the floor. Lift the head, chest, and shoulders away from the floor by lightly pressing onto your hands. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and maintain your chin level with the floor. Hold for five seconds.
Repeat 2-3 times
It is an excellent pose for strengthening the spine along with many other benefits such as alleviating constipation, stimulating appetite, and massaging abdominal organs.
·Arch your spine as much as you can but don’t apply force. Some people are naturally flexible while some are not and a lot of us have very stiff muscles. Never rush! Give your body the time it needs to gain strength and flexibility.
Take very little support from your arms, and use your back muscles to hold the weight of your upper body in the pose that is how your spine is going to get stronger.
·Your feet might raise a bit from the ground unintentionally, try to keep them down.
·Practice this asana under the guidance of an instructor if you suffer from any of these conditions: hyperthyroidism, hernia, peptic ulcer, or intestinal tuberculosis.
2. Williams KA, Petronis J, Smith D, et al. Effect of Iyengar yoga therapy for chronic low back pain [abstract]. Pain. 2005;115(1-2):107-117. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2005.02.016.
3.Kraftsow G. Yoga for back pain. American Viniyoga Institute Web site. http://www.viniyoga.com/yogabackpain.html. Accessed February 24, 2011.