Articles

Back Flexibility with Yoga

As we get older our spines bend less, mostly because of the effects of gravity on the spinal discs, which begin to dehydrate and become compressed after 30, reducing the spaces between the facet joints in the vertebrae and limiting movement. Gravity and an upright human posture also causes some the spinal muscles found in children to be converted to more rigid and stable ligaments in adults. Child-gymnasts and young yogis are capable of much more extreme backbending than adults,…

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Lower Back Pain and Alignment

Another cause of lower back pain is found in the alignment of the left and right sides of the body, some bodies are structurally asymmetrical: one leg is shorter than the other, or the pelvic halves are different sizes, people can be born that way, or their structure can be altered by bone fractures. Weakness on one side of the body can also be caused by operations, serious muscle injury, nerve injury in the spine or a stroke. Asymmetry is…

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Hip Pain and Injury in Yoga

Hips are vital in all body movements because the body’s centre of gravity is located in the hip area, about 4 finger-widths below the navel or belly-button. Healthy hips are also the key to a pain-free lower back and knees. Flexibility in the hips is determined by strength and overstretching the hips in an effort to make them flexible will instead make the hips weak and dysfunctional. Muscle imbalances in the hips also lead to inflexibility in the legs –…

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Hip and Hamstring Flexibility

Hamstrings and hips get a lot of stretching in yoga, because everyone wants to do Hanumanasana, and also get their feet behind their heads, preferably both feet at the same time. For many, this will never happen, precisely because they try so hard and focus only on one set of muscles without understanding the interlinking between the muscles of the hips, legs and lower back. Please refer to Lower Back Pain: Some Yoga-Related Causes for an explanation of these relationships.…

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Lower Back Pain: Some Yoga-Related Causes

The causes of lower back pain are varied and complex. Physiotherapy texts state that in most cases it is impossible to pinpoint the exact body tissue that causes the pain and because humans have an upright posture, it is virtually guaranteed that everyone will have an episode of lower back pain in their lives. Most treatment of lower back pain is focused on relieving symptoms. Even hi-tech imagery is not a reliable indicator of the cause of pain- people are…

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Movement Habits and their Effect on Yoga Practice

There are three particular movement habits in asana practice that either cause or indicate problems with the hips: These will be covered in detail in separate posts, to keep posts shorter 1. Allowing the hip to push out to the side and not maintaining a level pelvis in the horizontal plane – lateral pelvic tilt 2. Hinging from the hips when folding forwards from a standing position or returning to an upright stance from a forward fold. 3. Arching the…

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‘Yoga Butt’ Injury

‘Yoga Butt’ is a term for a range of symptoms frequently experienced in Ashtanga and other forms of Vinyasa or Power yoga after a few months of regular practice. It often starts as Pain or discomfort at either of the Ischial Tuberosities (sit-bones) Discomfort in all forward bending and a feeling that the hamstring won’t stretch Inflexibility or pain in Kurmasana and Supta Konasana. Yogis with these symptoms might then tear a Hamstring, but even if they don’t force the…

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Practising Through Pain and Injury in Yoga

Many athletes and many athletic yogis who experience pain believe that they should keep right on with what they are doing, and hope that the pain will eventually disappear. This is very short-sighted, especially if pain is not associated with a specific injury. Pain without a specific injury is often a sign of muscle imbalance. In yoga, muscle imbalance can develop quite easily, if a set practise is followed for a long time, or if a particular practise emphasises existing…

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How Hinging From the Hips Creates Weak Gluteal Muscles

Yoga practice usually starts with some form of Surya Namaskara and most sun salutations include moving from Samasthitih or Tadasasna to Uttanasana and back upright many times. These movements are often made by keeping the back straight and folding forwards at the hips, with the knees locked and rising back to vertical in the same position, lifting the head first. Keeping the back straight to bend forward involves a strong contraction of the Erector Spinae muscles and eccentric lengthening of…

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Anterior Pelvic Tilt in Yoga Practice

When the hip-bones tilt forwards, creating an arch (lordosis) in the lower back, you have anterior pelvic tilt, one of the main causes of lower back pain. Some people, mainly women, have a lower back that is naturally lordotic. This is due to the shape of their Sacroiliac joints, and is not necessarily painful or problematic. Anterior pelvic tilt is extremely painful when it is caused by muscle imbalance, mainly weak gluteal muscles. Some other symptoms of hip muscle weakness…

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