joint health
Yoga Practice, Yoga Teacher

Spring Cleaning for Our Spine and Joints

Looking out my window this morning while sipping my coffee, I saw the most trusted sign that Spring is here in Canada: a Robin red-breast. So with that assurance, it’s time to get going with a little spring cleaning!

Yoga as we know is such an amazing practice to get the entire body moving. One of the major benefits of Yoga over other means of exercise is that we move our spine in all planes of motion. We also have this same opportunity for our joints to help build synovial fluid, protecting our joints from wear and tear. By just adding a few extra movements to the poses we are already teaching or practicing, we can release congestion, stagnant energy, increase blood flow, increase mobility and just generally feel really good. Here are some great tips to include to benefit all yourself and your students.

  1. Start with a full spinal warm-up: You are probably already including cat/cow but what about giving your class a chance to free flow with spine circles or side to side movements as well.
  2. Include ankle movements: If starting supine, or even at the end of the class with alternate knees to chest, let the ankles move up and down and circles. Incorporate additional movements through the feet and toes for an extra dose of deliciousness.
  3. Include shoulder circles: A great way to add versatility to the same poses you teach every week. In either triangle, side angle or extended side angle take the top arm towards the ear and down to complete the circle 3-4 times. Then go back the other way. Encourage your students to move in a pain free range of movement and to make the circles as big or small as they want.
  4. Use lateral flexion as a prep pose: We tend to focus a lot on flexion for stretches, extensions for back bends and twists for mobility but often forget about lateral flexion or side to side movement. The more we open up laterally through the spine the more space we will create for those bigger extensions and twists. Even as simple as standing and reaching one arm up to the sky and then the other can go a long way.
  5. Stretch the hips all 4 ways: The majority of our classes love pigeon and don’t feel like class is complete without it. This is great but also make sure we are incorporating other hip openers to alternate movement patterns and also gain better benefits through our hips. Stretching our hip flexors with lunges, the inside hip/groin with frog or half frog and catching our TFL/IT band (though not really part of the hip I know) with a supine leg stretch across the body. And of course, our glutes and abductors with pigeon or even a figure four based stretch.

A tip just for you, keep your body feeling good with regular body work like massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care or osteopathy. I can’t go anywhere without my trigger point ball, and have just added (finally, I know where have I been) Yoga Tune-Up® balls the original minis and I’m in love! These balls are great to get in to those harder to reach areas such as the ever elusive and ever tight piriformis, which I try to roll 3-4 times a week. However, another super tight area for me is in my upper psoas just below T12. I lay just holding the balls in place on either side of my spine for maybe 3 minutes and had an emotional release similar to when I’ve done a proper psoas release. Incredibly empowering, and I look forward to sharing more on this!

 

Photo by theformfitness from Pexels

 

 

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