The past few days I have been so proud of myself. I am a certified yoga teacher. You would think that I wake up every day and have the dedication to do yoga every morning, right? Sadly, wrong. I am a normal person who also wants to stay in bed and snuggle till the last minute even though I love yoga and actually feel my body craving it often. Yoga is great but sometimes it is hard and requires strength, which can feel like effort. And sometimes, we just want to relax — right? I’m a Taurus, I always want to relax, but anyway here is why I am so proud. For the past few mornings, I have been waking up with a backache (that’s not the proud part — read on). I often have back pain which most of us experience rather frequently and some of us every day. I spent about ten minutes each day for the past few days waking up a little bit earlier, and rolling out my yoga mat at the foot of my bed to practice yoga. The rest of the day I have been pain-free. OK, so maybe you do this already or it has been on your New Year’s list of resolutions but you have not yet started. Here is the easiest way to begin in the morning.
Wake up earlier, early enough that you can take plenty of time for everything you need to do in the morning and are not rushing. Even if this means you have to put your work or (preferably) leisurely reading novel down earlier at night to get to bed sooner. Once you are up, unroll your mat at the foot of your bed or anywhere else that is quiet and calm. I like to start in standing forward fold, Padahastasana. Bend your knees slightly so it’s not an effort and reach for your toes while standing. Really arch your back so that you feel each vertebrate protrude on your back. Make a beautiful arch with your back and push your spine towards the sky. Now take in a few deep, slow breaths and connect with how your body feels right now. Slowly, unravel yourself to standing and repeat if it feels right.
Next, take a seat on the mat. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with the sides of your feet on the ground instead of in your lap. Feel your hips begin to open and loosen up. Take a few slow, deep breaths here before you lean forward to take a bow. Be sure that you are breathing slowly. Don’t try too hard. Let it be natural and relaxed. When you lean forward to bow down to the earth, as we often say in yoga, let your arms relax or reach your fingertips forward and stretch out underneath your armpits. This feels amazing. Be sure that your sit bones remain firm on the ground, even if you can’t stretch as far forward to keep them there. Accept where you are in your practice without judgement. If it feels right, walk your fingertips away from your body to the right side, the center and the left side. I like to end back in the center to neutralize the spine. Take a few deep breaths in each position or move freely. Just be sure that you continue to breathe slowly. Great! Now we are getting somewhere. The blood circulation in your body is increasing as is the cerebral spinal fluid in your spinal cord. This is healthy for your body and nervous system.
Now return to a seated position with your head centered above your body and firmly place your hands on your mat in front of your body to prepare for downward dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana. Come forward onto your hands to unwrap your legs and curl your back toes under. Make sure you are using most of the length of your mat between your hands and your feet. Next, send your hips to the sky and come into downward facing dog pose. Ahhh — first one of the day. Check your alignment. Your hands should be shoulder width apart, fingers clawing the mat to avoid undue pressure on your wrists, head and neck is relaxed and loose, hips high, and work on pressing your heels down to the mat to feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Take a couple of deep breaths here and feel the release on your spine, your neck and the elongation in your calves and shoulders. Soften between your shoulder blades and let your heart melt into the earth. Be here now. Feel the strength in your arms and legs. This should really feel amazing on your lower back! Beautiful. Hang out here for as long as it feels right to you. Be sure you are breathing slowly and deeply. Slowly release your knees to the mat and end in child’s pose. Your morning stretch is complete and your body will thank you all day long. You may even find yourself looking forward to tomorrow morning and the quiet space you have created with yoga.
Our spine surgeons in NJ also advise the same technique to deal with backache, especially for those who cannot afford surgeries.