In back pain rehabilitation yoga's Bhujangasana (Cobra), Adhomukha Virasana (Pose of a child), and Malasana (Garland pose) - is a great sequence for gentle spinal and hip mobilization, lower back stretching, and hip opening. Softens the stiffness, and reduces back pain. Performed gently and slow, - calms the pain and nerves down.
The correct way to do the Cobra
- Lie face down on the floor with your legs straight and your hands on the floor beneath your shoulders.
- By straightening the elbows and pushing on the hands, push your upper trunk back off the floor.
- Attempt to straighten the elbows fully but at the same time, try to keep the pubic bone on the floor.
- If you are stiff, let the pelvis lift off the floor so that the body remains suspended. Do not let your hands slide further out to the front so that the pelvis can remain on the floor.
- Try to breathe into the stiffness, letting the spine drop down bit by bit as you remain there.
- Do not let your shoulders come up around your ears. Keep your neck long.
- Hold the position for one minute, breathing quietly as the spine relaxes.
- To come down, bend the elbows and lie the side of your face on the floor.
- Rest for 15 seconds and then repeat three times, trying to get the front of the pelvis as near as possible to the floor.
As a progression:
From the Cobra to the Pose of the Child
- When the hips fall through to the floor with little residual stiffness, you can move into a see-sawing action back and forth.
- Bend the hips by pulling your tummy in hard and pushing your bottom back towards your heels.
- With the top of your feet flat along the floor behind you, nestle your bottom down on your heels.
- Your hands will drag back along the floor a little way; leave them long and relaxed, elbows on the floor.
- Relax the side of your face or your forehead to the floor and remain there for five seconds.
- To rock forwards, slide your hands forward again and after lifting your bottom off your heels, let your hips fall through to the sagging position.
- Count five seconds in this position.
- Repeat four more times back and forth, counting all the time and trying to let the hips drop more each time.
The correct way to do squatting
- Stand with your heels and toes close together and, holding the side of the bath or a secure rail, bend the knees and drop your bottom to the floor. (You can do it freestanding, as you can see in the picture, but holding on and leaning back gives you a better stretch.)
- Take your heels to the floor and part your knees widely as you take your bottom as close as possible to the floor.
- Bend your elbows to pull yourself forward and drop your head as low as possible between your legs, attempting to turn the full length of the spine into a long, rounded hump.
- In this position gently bounce your bottom to the floor while keeping your head tucked down. Continue for 30 seconds.
- While in this position, suck your tummy in a notch or two and sense the increased separation of the lower segments as the pelvis drops down off the base of the spine.
- To stand up, pull your tummy in and push strongly through the thighs.
Your own physical condition and diagnosis may require specific modifications or precautions. Before undertaking any course of self-treatment you should consult a doctor or a physiotherapist.
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