In Tuesday night's yoga class we did a fun experiment with spinal release and Chin Lock (a position which allows you to measure range of motion in your neck). Every student in the class doubled their range of motion in their neck, after only 3 poses! One student who had a lot of neck pain experienced a huge decrease in pain.
What was so interesting is that we didn't do any poses directly for their necks. We did poses to release muscle tension in their lower spines.
Issues at the top of your spine (your neck and shoulders) relate down to the base of your spine (your tailbone and sacrum). Tight muscles surrounding your spine and extending through your pelvis and hips pull on your spine. These muscles are holding on like there is no tomorrow.
It's as if you did a chin-up, and never came out. After a while, your arms would get really tired, wouldn't they? They'd probably hurt too. And then eventually, you wouldn't be able to feel your arms - they'd go numb. This happens with your spinal muscles too.
Imagine an eternal chin-up - this is essentially what your lower spine is doing.
The muscles in your low back are holding on constantly, especially for people who suffer from neck pain, back pain, vertebral issues or knee misalignments. Even many digestive problems and constipation stem from spinal tension and misalignment.
These spinal muscles have been holding on so tight for so long, that you can't actually feel most of them, or purposely release them. As you may be able to imagine, this steals a lot of your energy, because these muscles are always working and using energy that you would otherwise have available to you.
Experiment: Without touching your back, can you move your tailbone (coccyx)? Can you even feel your tailbone? If you said no to either, you have some tight, numb spinal muscles.
They pull your tailbone so that it tucks under (like a dog tucking her tail), and that pulls the rest of your spine out of alignment - it's similar to a domino effect.
The domino effect happens in reverse through the 'spinal release' poses we do in my classes and 1-on-1 sessions: when you release the muscle tension in your lower spine, your tailbone un-tucks, your spine de-compresses and gets longer so there is more space between your vertebrae, and your spine and body settle into a more healthy alignment. Your neck gets improved range of motion and pain relief!
Incidentally, decompressing your spine also improves your posture; you will automatically stand straighter and sit more upright, without even trying.
Want to try it yourself? Contact me to see if a Core Release yoga class is right for you.
Herniated Disc Story
"I have suffered for years from a cervical herniated disc...basically bone on bone. I had diminished movement abilities and debilitating pain...I did physical therapy, chiropractic care, two rounds of cervical steroid injections, ate 800 mgs of ibuprofen + advil pm every night just to sleep (not to mention various muscle relaxers, etc. the doctor put me on). Nothing really helped.
"...Last spring I discovered Core Release yoga...I had previously done Iyengar, Body Flow, etc. but none of the other styles really did much for me. I liked Core Release yoga initially because it was easy and I loved the Shavasana! But after about 8 weeks of only going once a week (and no home practice) I realized that I was no longer hurting all the time. My mind was calm and I felt much less stressed. I eliminated my chiropractor and was able to eliminate all the meds I was taking. People were asking me 'What are you doing? You look so fresh and calm!'
"At 52, I knew I had found something that was truly do-able and affordable for all of us baby boomers!" - Kerry P.