Bridging the Gap Between Yoga and Functional Movement Part 2



The functional movement of Yoga is integral to our health and wellness, but did you know that Yoga can also benefit the health of your spine! Therapeutic movement and alignment based postures have been used to improve the integrity of the spine, as well as overall mobility of the spinal segments, all by nurturing your spine and caring for your back.

Your spine consists of several parts. Each segment has about 2 degrees rotation when turning. Your lumbar spine has 5 vertebrae and  is designed for stability, as well as load distribution through the hips to the lower limbs. Your cervical spine or neck counts 7 vertebrae. Your thoracic spine counts 12 vertebrae and is designed for mobility.

Our thoracic spine plays an integral role in our overall movement and ability to move freely. Lack of thoracic mobility is as common as lack of hip mobility. Lack of thoracic mobility forces your body to function in ways it was not designed for.

While participating in a class, or teaching your own class keep these anatomical and movement principles in mind:

 Breathe:  When we hold our breath, we hold onto tension. Quiet, introspective breathing, allows for relaxation and increased circulation to tissues whose vessels are constricted during times of stress

 Create Movement of the Spine With Flexion and Extension:  The spine needs movement to lubricate the joints and provide nutrition to the spongy disks between the vertebrae.  During movement, the disks soak up nutrients., therefore it’s necessary to reverse the curvatures for brief periods of time.

Balance Flexibility with Strength: Developing strong yet flexible muscles is perhaps the most crucial principle in back care. It is important to lengthen contracted muscles before working on strength. When lengthening the spine, its natural curves should be maintained, keeping the low back in its concave curve. The back’s curves are designed to absorb shock throughout the spinal column.

 The Importance of Yoga Sequencing: Sequencing yoga poses from basic to more advanced is very important. Start with postures that bring our attention to releasing the fascia first and establishing movement in the thoracic spine.

So the next time you find yourself saying….”awww my aching back”…. Stop, drop and roll out that Yoga Mat!

About the Author: Sarah Jamieson

Sarah Jamieson has written 155 posts on this site.

Sarah is the owner and head movement coach at Moveolution; a Vancouver based consulting company focused on the integration of movement and recovery science. Bridging the gaps between the clinical and performance fields Sarah’s passion stems from lifelong passion of Yoga, Jujitsu, and Qi Gong; which she integrates into her coaching practice. She is a full time social change maker, a ‘run-a-muker’ of everything outdoors and repeatedly engages in random acts of compassion.

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