Posing with a Purpose: How Yoga Strengthens the Spine

Want a Healthier Spine? Embrace the Power of Yoga!

When most people sign up for yoga classes, they imagine melting away stress and setting positive intentions as they stretch – all great benefits of the practice. However, there’s an often-underrated advantage to embracing popular positions such as Downward Dog and Camel Pose: they strengthen and protect your spine.

In this fast-paced world where hunching over screens all day – or standing for 12-hour shifts – are the norm, our spines are perhaps more susceptible than ever to fatigue and injury. Some simple daily yoga practices can strengthen your alignment, increase mobility and, in turn, improve your quality of life.

Here are a few ways yoga can keep your spine healthy – and keep you happy:

Increase spinal strength

We’ve said it before: your spinal cord needs strong muscles to help stabilize it and keep the signals to the rest of your body going strong. Yoga positions such as the Side Plank, Warrior and Boat poses target the core and surrounding muscle groups (back, abs and obliques), while also increasing bone density.

A strong foundation – that is to say, a strong spine – enables the body to improve in a multitude of ways, creating a positive cycle in which each benefit positively reinforces the others.

Improve mobility, flexibility, and circulation

Flexibility and range of motion are two of the most important factors when it comes to longevity – your ability to move well is vital to your quality of life. The more freely you can move about and stretch, the more impactful your daily activity and exercise routines will be, maximizing your overall health.

Whether it be from emotional tension, or all those hours spent sitting at a computer, our backs and necks take the brunt for our mental and physical stress. According to Harvard Health Publishing via Harvard Medical School, yoga poses can help strengthen and stretch muscles that might be tight, increasing our mobility and improving blood circulation.

Poses that ask you to extend or twist, such as the Seated Twist Pose, can build on the mobility work done in common beginner poses. On the other hand, poses that have you stand, such as Downward Dog, can minimize the negative effects that come with sitting all day at a desk job.

Reduce and prevent pain

According to Harvard Medical School, yoga can offer a solution to lower back pain, which is the most common source of pain and disability among older adults.

“Yoga can be especially helpful to the muscles that support the back and spine, such as the paraspinal muscles that help you bend your spine, the multifidus muscles that stabilize your vertebrae, and the transverse abdominis in the abdomen, which also helps stabilize your spine.”

Yoga can also help alleviate tension throughout the entire back, neck and shoulders by reducing inflammation, increasing circulation and decreasing cortisol.

Boost your mood and brain health

 It goes without saying that yoga is good for the mind, body, and soul – and there’s a strong correlation between spinal health and mental health. When our spines are healthy and aligned, our bodies feel and function better, ultimately improving our moods from the inside out.

A study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience revealed that participants who embarked on a three-month yoga retreat – which incorporated physical postures, controlled breathing practices and seated meditations – felt less depressed and less anxious when they had returned.

With a deeper range of motion, a stronger core, and less tension, we feel lighter, more capable, and empowered to enjoy each day to the fullest. See you all in the yoga studio!

NOTE: Before you begin any exercise regimen, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider about any pain or discomfort you are experiencing. Ready to improve your spine health? Our team of board-certified providers are ready to help you create a customized plan to get you back to health. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.