The purpose of this post is to walk you through my experience with yoga. With these simple yoga exercises, back pain can really be diminished and you can maintain a healthy back. Everybody’s experience will be different, but here is my story. This post from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, talks about the benefits yoga can have when dealing with back pain.
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I recently started taking a yoga class at my gym. I have to admit, I was scared. Not only scared but intimidated. This is something I have never done before. I am in pretty decent shape now and if you have read any of my other posts about my back pain journey, you know I was in pretty bad shape a few years ago.
So, being a man, first of all, taking a yoga class was going to require a little humble pie for me. Was I really ready to walk into a room full of mostly women and do all of these crazy twists and turns? I know men do yoga, but from what I have seen, not as many as women.
To this point, I have been very limited with my training routine, and especially any kind of twisting of my torso. Until now, I had been doing a lot of basic exercises and a lot of reps. Now I am ready to try something new and explore a different way to workout.
I am not very flexible but have been working on it, so again, I felt very intimidated. I can go lift weights for an hour or more, but sitting in a yoga pose was maybe more than I could swallow. If I can’t just power my way through training, then I am kind of at a loss.
Yoga…are you kidding me?
My chiropractor told me to check my ego at the door and go for it. He is a huge advocate of yoga, and also tells me to listen to my body. I am still getting used to that. This, by the way, is something I hear a lot with yoga, listen to your body. I used to think, yeah right, what am I supposed to listen for? This article discusses the benefits of yoga.
Now I was finally at the point in my recovery, where he told me that yoga would be the best thing in order for me to get rid of some lingering pain I have. I still have some pain in my piriformis, gluteus medius area, so kind of the upper and middle portion of my hip right along the belt line.
So my yoga journey starts with this class I have been taking, called Root Fundamentals. I do know that there are Chakras, and I think this has to do with one of those, but I am not 100% sure. Nor do I know how to explain all that, so I won’t even try. What I do know is that the class I am taking is a basic class, good for beginners, with long-held basic poses.
Okay, okay, so I love it!
The other thing I know (and never thought I would say) is I love it! It hurts so good! It hits me in all the right places. I am not sure if that is exactly what I wanted to say, but what I mean is, I feel sore in the exact spots where I am tight and need the stretch. To me, this means the yoga class is hitting all the right pressure points for me and it seems to be working.
Sure, yoga is great for stretching (which is pretty much all I thought it was good for), but there is so much more to yoga. Yoga is awesome for core strength, there is that phrase again, core strength, my motto these days. In addition to the core, yoga helps with balance, which honestly goes along with core strength.
In a short period of time, I have definitely noticed some improvement in my balance. I am still a work in progress, I have a long way to go. My half forward fold and my full forward fold are about the same. If you do yoga, you will get that! We also concentrate on breathing, and just really a lot of getting in touch with your body. It’s all about focusing your energy where you are at the moment, and doing what feels good with your body.
By the time I am done, I am a sweaty mess
I can not tell you how great of a workout this is. I sweat a lot while taking this class. It does depend on how strenuous the session is, but most of the time, I tell you what I look like a monsoon.
Below are the poses that I am getting some really good benefits from. Again, this is my experience and these yoga exercises have worked for me. You may or may not agree. Also, if any of these poses give you pain stop! With all of these poses, you also have to remember to breathe. It sounds pretty darn obvious, but breathing in so critical with yoga.
Spinal Twist is good for the piriformis and glutes. You will sit on the floor with one leg extended (left) and the other leg (right) bent with your foot resting on the floor outside of the left leg by your knee. You will then press gently with your opposite elbow (left in this case) on the outside of your right leg. This was a real challenge for me in the beginning since my piriformis and glutes were really tight and now this is one of my favorites.
Cat-Cow pose means exactly that
First, you look like a scared cat, then, you mooooo like a cow. Okay, no mooing, but you will get the point. First, you start on all fours, hands, and knees on the mat, shoulder-width apart, with your back flat, this is called Tabletop. You then flow through arching your back, like a cat. So you round your back and press your spine toward the sky.
Then you slowly move to cow, which is scooping your spine downward, while pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. This will put you in a concave position. This is great for loosening up your back, not just for yoga, but for other exercises as well.
Down Dog is great for core and stretching out those hamstrings
I like to do what they call “pedal it out” where you stretch your calves by literally pedaling each leg up and down. Start with tabletop and slide your hips and glute back and point your butt to the sky. You are basically going to be in the shape of an upside down “V” with arms about shoulder width apart and your glutes pointing up. You want to have your hands flat on the mat. Make sure the bend at the wrist is about 45 degree, and NOT closer to 90 degrees. For me, this pose is great for the hamstrings, calves, low back area and spine.
Childs pose is another one of my favorites
This is great for a full backstretch. I feel this in my lats, and my lower back. This is great for opening up the hips. You start in tabletop, on all fours. With your arms stretched out in front of you, sit back so your butt is almost touching your heels.
I love corpse pose!
By the end of the session, it’s time to get comfy. You take your favorite pose, we always end up with the lights down low, flat on our back in corpse pose. This is my favorite, as it means the intensity is now over with (even though I love it), and it’s time to chill for a few minutes. At this point, I am ready for a nice little snooze, let my mind wander and relax.
Well, I hope you enjoy the yoga poses and they can help you like they have helped me with my back pain issues. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them. If you are looking for a yoga mat, see my post about best yoga mats for 2018.