Public

5 Yin Yoga Poses for Healing a Lower Backache

Get a FREE web friend login to read private articles

Comments

0 Comments

Midwives are really good at taking care of others and often forget to take care of themselves. Running from woman to woman, bending over beds and baths, helping a woman move, sitting behind a computer for a stack of admin while eating a quick sandwich for lunch (if you get to lunch at all that day), night shifts disturbing a healthy sleeping routine… Am I getting the right picture?

Whilst your work must be one of the most fulfilling tasks in the world, your body is probably not agreeing with that all the time.

One of the most common problems I observe when speaking to people with physical jobs, such as yours, is lower backache. Ranging from diagnosed bulged discs to undiagnosed pains, it can affect not only the back, but also the hips, legs, shoulders and neck. Basically, your entire body and wellbeing.

Stefano, my husband, worked as a welder in his twenties, as a scuba diving instructor in his thirties and forties, and is now a vineyard worker. Needless to say, his poor spine has suffered a fair bit, herniated discs included. When I met him, he would have terrible back aches at least once a month. Three years ago, I finally got him to join my Yin Yoga classes and he has been practicing with me twice a week since. Unless he has an extremely labour-intensive day at work, his back ache is 90% gone. The times of the year he doesn’t practice (like when I’m off to Bali to run retreats and teacher trainings), he immediately notices the tension creeping back into his body and all sorts of pain returning.

Just last week, a friend of mine told me about his backache and how, after seeing three specialists, they still couldn’t tell him what was wrong. We found him a Yin Yoga class around the corner from his house and after going twice this week, I kid you not, he is in much less pain already, and much richer than if he had proceeded to see more doctors.  

I cannot recommend Yin Yoga classes enough for people with back problems or anybody for that matter, even if you don’t have any pain anywhere, so please find a studio that offers this amazingly healing practice whenever you have the chance. You will love it.

But, if you only have 30 minutes to spare and no time to go anywhere, then try the five poses I describe below. This mini-Yin Yoga sequence might already be enough to bring you some relief.

A note of caution: Though I have no problems to work with people with back pain, I do recommend you seek medical approval from a doctor before practicing yoga with a serious back or health issue. Yoga teachers are not doctors, and are not certified to diagnose or treat illnesses and injuries. However, experienced yoga teachers are able to assist you with proper postures for a safe yoga practice. We can also recommend specific poses or modifications to help with pain relief and to bring back mobility in the body for pain prevention. Make sure you explain to your doctor what kind of yoga you intend to practice – not all doctors know that there are different styles of yoga!

You don’t need to do any kind of warm up for Yin Yoga. When you do this sequence or any Yin Yoga practice, move slowly between poses and between sides, resting on your back in Savasana (Figure 1) for one or two minutes, before you move to the next one. That way the connective tissue and muscles can settle down after each long stretch.

Figure 1

Sphinx

Lie on your belly and come up on your elbows. Place the elbows directly under your shoulders. You can relax your neck and drop your head down or support your head with a block or pillow (Figure 2 & 3). The most important thing is to completely relax your back and buttock muscles (the glutes). Let the belly and ribcage sink towards the floor, you can even let the upper spine sink in between the shoulder blades. Let your lower abdomen and navel completely drop into the ground. Relax and hold still here for three to five minutes, up to eight minutes if you feel comfortable. If there is any pain in the lower back, widen your elbows a little bit, so that the curve in your lower back lessens.

Figure 2

Figure 3

Knees-to-chest

Lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest, binding your hands around your shins. The shoulder blades and back of the head should be on the floor and the chest muscles relaxed (Figure 4). If you can’t reach around your shins, use a belt or a scarf, but make sure your elbows are hanging above the mat (Figure 5). You can also put a blanket under your head. Don’t pull your knees towards your chest, just relax your arms and abdominal muscles and use the weight of your arms to apply gentle pressure on the legs. Feel the lower back lengthening when you inhale and tension releasing when you exhale. Hold for three to five minutes, up to eight minutes if you want. This pose is also helpful if you feel bloated or have indigestion.

Figure 4

Figure 5

Thread-the-needle

Lie on your back, place your left foot on the floor and cross your right ankle over your left knee. Lift your left foot off the floor and bind your hands around your thigh, under the left knee (Figure 6). If you can’t reach behind your knee, use a block or pillow under your left foot instead (Figure 7). You should feel a stretch in the right hip and buttock. If you don’t feel anything, pull the left knee in a little more by wrapping your hands around your shin (Figure 8). Keep both feet relaxed unless you feel pain in the right knee. In that case, flex the right foot. Relax the upper body and the legs, trying to let the right knee open up to the side as much as possible. Hold for three to five minutes, longer is fine too and repeat on the other side. 

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

Supported bridge pose

Lie on your back with your knees softly bent and place a block under your sacrum – right where your pelvis connects with your spine (Figure 9). Make sure there is not pain or discomfort in the lower back and stretch your legs out one at the time. If this is too strong, keep the knees bent and hold here for three to five minutes. After a couple of minutes, you can bring the arms overhead resting them on the floor or on a blanket above your head to stretch the front of the body a little more.

Figure 9

Supine twist

Lie on your back, spread your arms out to the side and bring your knees to your chest. Drop the knees to the right, propping a pillow under or in between the legs if necessary. You can rest your right hand on your left thigh but don’t pull your leg up by force (Figure 10). Simply use the weight of your hand to add a little extra pressure on the top leg and only if that feels good. It is not a problem if your left shoulder and arm come off the floor, simply relax the whole body and let the spine settle in the twist. As the muscles along the spine, the chest and the side of the body soften, you will notice that the arm comes closer to the floor. Also avoid contracting any muscles in an attempt to squeeze your legs together. Simply relax and hold still for three to five minutes and then do the other side (Figure 11).

Figure 10

Figure 11

Finish off with five blissful minutes in Savanasa (Figure 1) and get up slowly to savour the wonderful sensations of space and release before you dive back into the real world!


Tip of the day

Take five every now and do just one of the above-mentioned poses, for example in between clients or to break up a long session behind your desk. You don’t even need a yoga mat for this. Especially if you have been standing for a while or have been sitting holding a bad posture, a five-minute stretch does wonders for your body. To help you with that, check out the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management tool, I use it on the days that I need to spend a lot of time behind the computer. It really works and it’s perfect to squeeze in a few Yin poses during a busy day!


More about Yaisa

Yaisa is an ex-banker and ex-scuba diving instructor. She now spends her time between Bali, Europe and South Australia teaching yoga and working as a health coach and appropriately named her business Yoga Here & There. Since 2016 she is also a yoga teacher trainer and every day, she is amazed at how much more there is to learn about yoga. She is happy to (try and) answer any questions you may have.

Phone: +61 455107533 (only WhatsApp when overseas)

Email: yoga@yaisanio.com

Website: www.yaisanio.com

Facebook: @yogahereandthere and @yogahereandthere.ttc.retreats

Instagram: @yoga_hereandthere and @yoga_hereandthere_ttc_retreats


Special offer for ACM midwives

Yaisa is offering a fabulous discount for midwives...

Offer: 10% discount, for any yoga class, yoga teacher training or yoga retreat with Yoga Here & There

Eligibility: any midwife that reads the Yoga blog

Booking: Use the code "ACM" when you email or call Yaisa to find out more. The booking process is online, so you don’t need to print any vouchers.