When you think of yoga there are probably two different poses you think of: sun salutations and downward dog. Sun salutations can be great for getting your whole body ready to move but downward and upward dog can provide a little more support for your back pain that you might not experience at first.
Downward dog transitions greatly from cat/cow. When on your hands and knees, hand shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart, with good 90 degree angles, you can simply push weight into your toes and hands to push your body upward. Focus on pulling your hips upward, creating a straight line between your hands and hips and a second straight line from your hips to your heels. Do not expect your heels to be on the ground but relax your feet so that your heels are reaching towards the ground. Make sure your hands are still shoulder width apart and your feet hip width apart.
Breathe into this pose and just relax there. When you first start just do this and do not push yourself to do other movements in this pose. As you continue to practice this pose over time you will be able to focus more on one part of your body or another to improve your pose. Two things that I recommend focusing on to support your back are your abdominal muscles and your shoulders.
When in downward dog, pull your stomach in so that you are able to add a slight stretch to your low back. This is not something that you should focus on the first few times you do downward dog; simply get your body used to the position first. As you continue you may notice you are able to add a little more pressure and stretch to your armpits. This is great to do but be sure to also focus on your shoulders, especially if you are having upper back and shoulder pains. Pull your shoulder blades back and together, separating your shoulders from your neck so your head can also hang freely. If you are having a hard time understanding this position of your shoulders, remember how your shoulders are in a proper standing posture.
Be sure to stick with this series as we continue to look at cobra next week to support strengthening our backs further. At the conclusion of this movement series look for a special release for our Patrons with a full yoga workout plan for back pain support.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultations visit The Dancing Herbalist.com.