3 Ways Yoga Can Help Your Spine
“You would think it goes without saying, but too many of us simply don’t maintain good posture, which is critical for a healthy spine,” says Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, an orthopedic and spinal surgeon and author of Keys to an Amazing Life: Secrets of the Cervical Spine.
David Magnuson, board certified acupuncturist and certified yoga instructor at the Center for Healing and Wholeness agrees. Magnuson and other experts say that slouching could be associated with weight gain, heartburn, migraines, anxiety and respiratory conditions. Magnuson says that every day activities like sitting in front of a computer or driving can cause “overly tight neck muscles [and] diminishes the flow of blood and Qi [energy] to the head which can cause headaches."
Magnuson follows traditional Chinese medicine customs and believes, “there are [pressure] points along the spine that affect the internal organs.” Since the spine is part of the central nervous system which controls the body’s systems, good spine health is imperative to overall wellbeing. Magnuson’s goal is to help his clients regain a balance between their minds and bodies.
So how can we achieve this mind/body balance to help us maintain a healthy spine? While good posture remains one of the most direct benefactors of good spine health, there are other, perhaps more surprising, ways to keep the spine healthy. Magnuson advocates a more holistic approach. He encourages his clients to continue to regularly see a physician so that they have access to imaging technology when needed, and a chiropractor for all their spinal health needs. He believes a blend of Western and Eastern medicine is important. For his part, Magnuson’s uses 3 aspects of yoga to help his clients achieve optimal spine health:
- Deep Breathing. Deep breathing is a great practice to effectively reduce stress, but Magnuson also uses it to relieve spinal pressure. For example, “Taking a breath back to the kidneys takes pressure off the spine, nerves and blood vessels and increases circulation into the spine,” Magnuson explains.
- Yoga Poses. certain yoga poses not only strengthen the muscles that support the spine, but they also relieve stress and can release some pressure or strain from the spine. This can go as far as to benefit how well you sleep. “Anytime you can relieve stress, you’ll definitely sleep better,” he said. “If the mind is peaceful, you’ll sleep [well].”
- Meditation. It’s important to become aware of where there is tension held in the spine. Meditation helps build that awareness and allows release of those tense areas. In Meditation, "there’s always an emphasis on posture, having a long spine, erect and straight,” he said.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.