What an amazing summer this has been thus far; beautiful weather, and spending lots of time outdoors with friends and family. Being a yoga teacher and practicing regularly myself, I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. Last weekend a friend and I decided to go on a bike ride. During our ride, I found that with the help of my yoga practice that my endurance had improved significantly and decided to continue our ride into the next town to visit the locks. We had such a great time enjoying the scenery and talking with boaters about their recent travels. Shortly, thereafter we returned on our bike ride home (against the wind, of course). After 24kms, I was happy to arrive home to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the water, feeling quite satisfied about our bike trip.
A couple of days later, wow, was I in for a surprise. When I awoke I could hardly get up from bed as my lower back was screaming at me..."what the heck did you do to me?" I quickly realized that my lower back was in spasms. A quick call to my favorite Registered Massage Therapist, Jessica, and an hour later she was working out my hamstrings and gluteus minimus. After my massage, I went home and rested with some heat to help maintain blood flow to the areas affected. Many of us have experienced back pain at some point in our lives and generally try to limit physical activity and rest during these times of distress. However, I reminded myself to keep moving with gentle yoga stretches and poses along with deep breathing to undo the tension I created from poor posture during my bike ride.
The warm ups I found most helpful included: reclining leg stretches using a strap (hamstring, adductor, abductor, quadriceps and external rotator). These stretches are regularly performed as part of my yoga warmups in the classes that I teach. Keeping my awareness on my breath, breathing deeply and exhaling completely helped to release the tension from my tight muscles. Poses included, reclining bound angle, cat and cow, slowly working into downward dog. As my hamstrings were still quite tight, I modified by keeping my knees soft so as not to aggravate my low back. Also helpful were high and low lunge stretches for my hip flexors, opening up my hips. Ending with happy baby and little boat twist. My practice continued daily and 4 days later I am happy to report my low back is now happy again. I am so grateful for my yoga practice (and Jessica!) which has helped me once again alleviate an injury by safely working with my body and breath. Once again I am reminded that despite an unhappy back I was able to safely modify and continue my yoga practice healing my aching body. Going back to the basics was exactly what my body needed. Please be sure to consult with your primary healthcare professional before embarking on a yoga practice while injured.
Nancy Este is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Certified Nutritional Practitioner. She is here to share with you over 17 years of experience in the Alternative Health field. It is her hope to help save you time, money and stress when it comes to regaining your balance in life.