Healthy Back: Stretching, Releasing & Toning the Psoas

Healthy Back: Stretching, Releasing & Toning the Psoas

According to the World Health Organisation, 60 to 70% of adults in industrialised countries will suffer from lower back pain during their lifetime. It is one of the major causes of disability and lost days at work. Lower back pain can be due to various reasons, from a slipped disc to scoliosis or vertebral fractures. But very often, tension in the lower back is linked to our lifestyle: we basically spend too many hours sitting and this is not good news for our psoas! The psoas: A key muscle The psoas is really a vital muscle which links the upper body and the lower body. It attaches along the spine at one end, in the lumbar area, and at the inside of the thighs at the other end. It is involved in a variety of movements and actions such as balancing the core, connecting with the diaphragm or stimulating the internal organs and nerves – but it is mainly a hip flexor that draws the thigh towards the upper body. The psoas and lifestyle Although we might not notice it, the psoas is contracted when we sit. In other words, if we sit for long hours every day, the psoas is constantly contracted. What happens then? It tightens, shortens and pulls on the lumbar spine, sometimes even twisting it. This not only puts pressure on the discs but also on the surrounded muscles. Hence the sensation of tension and compression in the lower back! What should we do? Since a tight psoas is a problem, we should stretch the psoas. However, we also want to tone the psoas. Why? Because a weak psoas muscle also...
Balancing Table – Dandayamna Bharmanasana

Balancing Table – Dandayamna Bharmanasana

How to do it? 1. We start on all four, with the knees directly under the hips and the hands under the shoulders. We spread the fingers and press on the web area between the thumbs and the index fingers to avoid unnecessary pressure on the wrist. 2. Inhale and extend the right leg up parallel to the floor, reaching the toes towards the back wall. 3. Exhale and gently draw the navel in towards the spine, finding stability by looking between your thumbs. 4. On the next inhale, extend the left arm up parallel to the ground. Lengthen from the toes to the finger tips. 5. Hold for 5 breaths, breathing slowly and deeply. Then to come out of the pose, exhale as you bring the left arm on the mat and lower the right knee back down. – Repeat on the other side. Why do it? The Balancing Table is a great pose to improve balance! It looks simple but students are often surprised at how difficult it is to remain stable and balance! It teaches us to pay attention to the alignment, the breath, the core and to focus! Balancing Table (to be honest, I never use the Sanskrit name for this pose!) also helps improve the memory and coordination and the core strength if practised regularly. Precautions If you have problems with your knees, you might find it difficult to stay in the pose for a few breaths. Try placing a folded blanket or some sort of padding under the knee to reduce pressure. I really like this pose. It is simple but helps to wake up in the...
Alternate Breathing

Alternate Breathing

How to do it? 1: Use the right hand, folding the index and middle fingers inside the palm. 2: Use the right thumb to close off the right nostril. 3: Inhale slowly through the left nostril 4: Pause for a second 5: Now close the left nostril with the ring finger and release the thumb off the right nostril 6: Exhale through your right nostril 7: Now, inhale through the right nostril 8: Pause 9: Use the thumb to close the right nostril 10: Breathe out through the left nostril 11: This is one round. Start slowly with 1 or 2 rounds and gradually increase. With practise you can start inhaling for 4, holding for 4 and exhaling for...