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Five Yoga Poses For A Better Back

Taking a few minutes to stretch your back could benefit your overall health

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Back problems can be incapacitating, and no one knows this better than yoga instructor Bruce Bassock. A former financial trader, Bassock sat in the same position looking up at a screen for 20-plus years, until his own back pain led him on a mission to feel better. “I spent a week at the Ashram spa with my father and came back determined to be healthier and get rid of my chronic back pain,” Bassock says. The result? Bassock traded in his trading license for a yoga mat and became an instructor. He and his wife, Donna, are co-owners of Elements Yoga in Darien. Their studio has won the Moffly Media’s “Best of the Gold Coast” for 10 years running.

Understanding the root of back pain is important for prevention. Bassock describes the body like a pulley system. When muscles in your lower body become tight they can put stress on your lower back, causing pain and spasms. The more relaxed your muscles are, the more efficiently your digestion, blood flow, lymph and nervous system will function, Bassock explains.

The yoga sequence below is designed to create more length in the muscles that tend to be most at risk of being strained, and these poses will benefit those who have back pain from time to time. “Practicing this sequence regularly can prevent back pain and even heal it,” says Bassock. Please consult your doctor first if you have chronic back pain or an injury. Don't forget to breathe consciously during each pose, as this is integral to getting the most from each move. Taking mindful breaths will also help you calm your nervous system, quiet your mind and reduce tension.

1. Side Angle Pose: This pose creates heat by warming the muscles and opening your hips.  It also helps lengthen the spine, creating more space between each vertebra.  For those who experience back pain this is crucial.

Side Angle Pose | Elements Yoga

How to Do It: Stand facing forward, then step your left foot way back and spin it to the floor.  The back foot will be pointed towards the side wall. Your left foot should remain facing forward. Breathe in, and as you exhale, bring your right forearm to your front thigh (which should be bent at a 90 degree angle).  Stretch your left arm over your ear and reach toward the front wall. Keep your muscles engaged as you stretch your entire body, lengthening the spine forward.  Hold for 5 breaths. Slowly stand, move your right foot back to meet your left, and repeat the pose on the opposite side.

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