By Atul Vyas
Our spine or backbone consists of 33 small bones called vertebrae sitting over each other and separated from one another by elastic discs called intervertebral discs. The vertebras are held in place by various muscles, ligaments, and boney processes. Because large numbers of vertebrae are joined together by resilient discs considerable movement is possible at the spine.
Another interesting feature that the human spine has got is that it has four natural curves in it. We have one forward curve in the cervical region, one backward curve in the thoracic or dorsal region, again a forward curve in the lumbar region, and again a slightly backward curve in the sacrum and coccyx region.
Out of these regions, the cervical spine is quite flexible so that you can move your head backward forward or from side to side or turn it. Thoracic has got little flexibility. A little movement occurs in this region only during rotation and twisting of the spine. The lumbar spine is more flexible.
Forward and backward movement, sideward bending, and twisting of the trunk – all these basically involve movement at the lumbar spine. These curves serve a very important purpose, with these curves and intervening discs, the spine acts as a coiled spring which enables it to absorb the shocks and impacts coming from the ground through the legs more effectively.
Whenever these curves are disturbed beyond their natural curvatures unequal pressures and strains are caused on muscles and ligaments associated with the spine which leads to backache and cervical pain.
So the central emphasis is on the correction of the various curvatures of the spine. There are two aspects of back pain or backache, one is physical and another is psychological.
Here we will deal with the physical aspect.
A stiff and aching back is caused by stiff or tight back muscles. Soft stretching lengthens and relaxes the muscles by releasing tight pockets. In all back relaxation exercises, an attempt is made to reduce the hollow of the lower back by bending the knee and hip joints. Unless this hollow is reduced back muscles cannot be made to relax.
One of the yogic exercises to relax back muscle is Balasna, the child pose.
- Sit in a kneeling position between your feet with your buttock resting between the heels
- Keep the head neck and trunk straight
- Relax the arms and rests the hands on the floor
- Now while exhaling slowly bend forward from the hips until the stomach and chest rests on the thighs
- Forehead touches the floor in front of the knees
- As the body bends forward from the hips rests the arms alongside the body with palms turned upwards
- Relax and breathe evenly
- Feel the motion of the breath against the thighs and at the sides of the rib cage
- Be in this pose for 30 seconds and then return to the normal position
- Repeat 3 times
- Relieves lower back tensions
- Gently stretches the spine
- Massages abdominal organs
- Refreshes, relaxes, and quiets the mind
The author likes to be called a “Yoga Scientist”. He is a celebrity yoga trainer and has trained several top Hollywood and Bollywood stars. He has trained for years under many eminent yoga gurus including his illustrious mother Daya Vyas, the first lady yoga guru of India.