Yoga Trick: Spine
George Burns said it best, "You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old". He sure was no yoga buff, but he had a great point. I believe that freedom of movement is what keeps us young, and a flexible spine is the key. Here’s a video with a couple of great yoga tricks to revitalize your spine when you get out of bed, warm it up while waiting for a led yoga class, or prepare it for your own yoga practice. Really anytime to energize is a good time!
How did I learn this trick? Years ago I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a workshop with David Williams, one of the first non-Indians to learn and teach the Ashtanga Yoga series. Over the past decade, he has traveled all over the world teaching workshops that promote safely practicing Ashtanga Yoga. David has become highly vocal on the dangers of "pushing your limitations in the practice". Now in his sixties, David gave the invaluable advice to take time before the traditional Ashtanga Yoga practice to warm up the spine with this Spinal Twist Series as seen in the video below. I'm so glad he did, because now I never start my practice without it.
You may not know the name Indra Devi, but a large part of the reason that you are now able to practice yoga in abundance here in the U.S. is due to her influence. Her 1950s book, Forever Young Forever Healthy, describes this simple exercise in my video. I like to follow-up David's Spinal Twist Series with this very simple trick she called Rocking. As Devi describes, it is, "an agreeable, invigorating sensation because of the healthy massage your vertebrae are receiving." She recommends it be done to overcome stiffness in the morning as it stimulates the flow of energy through the spinal cord. I also find it an awesome spinal release after deep back bending postures and between long held Yin Yoga poses.
Once the basic movements shown in my video Yoga Trick: Spine are learned, be sure to incorporate deep breaths to guide the activity. As you continue your yoga practice, this jump-start can also help you to remember one simple truth; the primary emphasis of every yoga posture should be on the spine.
Follow your path
Caution: Do not practice lying-down postures if you have breathing difficulties. If you have acute back problems leg lifts are not advised. If you are coming to the mat with these, or any other limitations or injuries, be sure to consult a physician’s opinion.