178
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Your spine supports your whole body and protects your spinal cord, so looking
after it is crucial for your health and well-being. Yoga helps care for your spine
by encouraging good posture and alignment, but you may need to make simple
adjustments to prevent or manage specific conditions and diseases.
SPINAL CARE
Q
I suffer from neck pain from texting
and typing. Can yoga help?
Yes. While typing or texting, many
of us allow our heads to fall forward.
This increases the load on the neck
and upper back muscles. With
sustained strain, these muscles
become inflamed and excessively
tight, which can lead to pain. Yoga
improves your awareness of how
you hold your head throughout
the day, which can prevent tech
neck. To counteract its effects,
you can also strengthen key
muscles of proper neck posture
by pressing your head back into
your hands, a wall, or a car headrest
for several breaths.
TECH NECK
When you lean forward, you
bring your head out of
alignment, which effectively
makes it heavier. The more
you bring it forward, the heavier
the load on your spine.
Leaning forward
over a smartphone
can increase the
load on the neck by
5 times.
Neck and upper
back muscles
become fatigued
when head is out
of alignment
Optimal alignment
of the head over
the body minimizes
muscular effort
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179
Q
is there an alternative to rolling up
from a standing forward fold?
The cue of rolling up from a
Standing Forward Fold “vertebra by
vertebra” is likely to have come from
the dance world. Biomechanically
and functionally, this transition has
more risks than benefits. For many,
it feels good and improves
coordination. However, rolling up
could lead to or exacerbate a
herniated disk or a spinal fracture
for those with osteoporosis. This
transition also doesn’t prepare you
properly for real-world activities,
such as picking things up safely.
To avoid potential injury, and to
build the muscle memory of
safe movement patterns, try coming
out of a Standing Forward Fold in
the following way:
1
Create a wider base of support
with your toes turned out slightly.
This reduces the pressure on
your knees.
2
Bring your hands to your hips
or the front of your thighs.
3
Keeping a neutral spine,
engage your core and push
up to standing, as with a hip hinge.
This can particularly recruit your
transversus abdominis, which may
help alleviate lower back pain.
Research
suggests that
yoga is safe
and effective
for relieving
chronic back
pain.
MYTH-BUSTER
I have back problems, so I can’t do yoga.
Research suggests that yoga is safe and effective for relieving chronic
back pain. However, you may need to make adjustments to certain asanas or
avoid some poses completely if you are managing a specific back condition
(see pp.202–205). For many people, for example, touching the floor in Standing
Forward Fold is not possible or comfortable, particularly for the lower back
(the lumbar spine). However, you can still get the main benefits of the pose
by bringing the floor closer to you, for example, by resting your hands
on a block or on the base of a chair.
Did you know?
Back pain is one of the most common
disabling ailments and is a leading
cause of lost productivity.
Research shows yoga not only
reduces back pain by clinically
significant levels, but also reduces
the number of sick days taken.
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