Today, Yoga has become a way of living for health aficionados. It is proven to have many benefits such as improving flexibility, building muscle and bone strength, maintaining posture, improving blood flow and many others. Yoga is actually a group of physicalmental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India and were originally a part of religious activities from Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Now, people don’t just do it as a part of a religious ceremony but a form of exercise to improve quality of living.   As we know, having a regular exercise routine poses a lot of benefits to the body. Exercising is a way to fulfill our body’s active nature as it was not built for stationary and sedentary function. Yoga is a totally different form of exercise from what we are very much familiar with like weight lifting, squats, running, jogging and jumping jacks which can be characterized as rough and intense kind of exercises with most, requiring the use of exercising equipment. Yoga is the total opposite, which is characterized as a calm and peaceful form of exercise that does not require the use of any equipment, just the floor and a rubber mat.   As mentioned, one of the key benefits of Yoga is releasing muscle, joints and bone tension that causes pain and discomfort in areas of the body just by doing the correct poses that target a specific part of the body, thus, doing Yoga can ease body pain, especially back pain. Back pain, according to global statistics is one of the leading causes of disability, regardless of age and sex. While it continues to become a menace to achieving a pain free living, it also does not have a direct cure, however there are easy to perform alternatives to lessen or even remove back pain such as doing Yoga exercise.   Strengthen your back and alleviate back pain with these 4 simple yoga stretches:     1.Child’s Pose     You may think of it as too easy and sedentary for an exercise, and you seem to be doing something more like resting than stretching. But it is actually an active stretch that elongates the back which helps out in releasing tight muscles in your back. Other than that, the other benefits that this pose has to offer include calming the mind, improving your digestion and opening up your hips. You can do this pose as you go to bed to end your long and exhausting day. How to do it? Step 1. Start on all fours (refer to the photo above) with your arms stretched out straight in front of you, then sit back so your butt muscles or glutes come to a rest just above your heels but not to the point of touching them. Step 2. Hold your position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed for a good, soothing stretch.      2.Upward Facing Dog     Doing this pose will not just strengthen your back but as well as your arms and wrists as well. This pose works to open up your chest, stretch your abdominal muscles, and engage your back. It is a great solution especially when you are an office worker who is slumped on your desk for the entire day, meaning, it can also correct posture while relaxing your lungs and heart.   How to do it?   Step 1. Start lying flat on the floor with your palms faced down by the middle of your ribs. Step 2. While drawing your legs together and pressing the tops of your feet into the floor, use the strength of your back, not your hands, to lift your chest off the floor. Step 3. Leave your legs extended straight out at first. Step 4. Hold your position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as needed.     3.Downward Facing Dog     While this pose encourages blood flow, it energizes and calms the body. Just like the upward facing dog pose, it corrects slumpy posture. It does not only work on improving your flexibility but this pose is both strengthening and stretching. It targets your back extensors (or the large muscles on your back) which form your lower back, support your spine, and help you to stand, walk, run and lift objects.   How to do it?   Step 1. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Step 2. Raise your knees away from the floor and lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling. Step 3. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat the pose five to seven times. Note: For an added hamstring stretch, gently push your heels toward the floor.     4.Cat-Cow Pose     It is the perfect pose for your achy and sore back since it loosens your tight back muscles. It works very well against lower back pain and sciatica. Not just that, it can be a remedy to fight against stress from menstrual cramps. While it increases flexibility of your neck, shoulders and back, it improves the backward and forward bending of your spine, and alleviates any discomfort due to pain. This movement also stretches the muscles of your hips, abdomen, chest, and lungs.   How to do it?   Step 1. Starting in an all-fours position, move into a cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up, arching your back. Step 2. Hold for a few seconds and then move to cow by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. Moving back and forth from cat to cow helps move your spine onto a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension. Step 3. Repeat 10 times, flowing smoothly from cat into cow, and cow back into cat. Repeat the sequence as needed.

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