How do you feel about your spine?

To be honest, if you asked me that question a few years ago, I would not have known what to answer! We are probably most often aware of our spine when something is hurting in the back.

Everything changes when you start caring for your spine. Your spine is built to move, to get into flexion and extension, to rotate from one side to the other, to elongate, be upside down, and also get into lateral flexion. In case you feel any restriction in your back, instead of stiffening more and more, perhaps choosing yoga as a way to add more ease of movement to your spine. By moving and breathing through back postures, space is created between the vertebrae, benefitting the discs in-between. And more space between the vertebrae results in increased mobility in the spine, as well as improved connection between the brain and belly brain (gut).

I enjoy the feeling I get from rotating the spine from one side to the other. One of my first discoveries in daily life where I noticed that rotational mobility in my spine had improved in a significant way was a morning I was reversing my car out of the driveway. It suddenly hit me that I could just turn to look out through the rear window without feeling any tightness in my back. My pelvis was firmly on the car seat, and I turned my upper back with such ease. A great sensation! Just imagine the wellness you would feel in your whole body with a spine that can twist and turn as you want it to.

An easy exercise to do to improve rotational movement in your spine is something called spinning. This is how you do it: Start by standing up with your arms by your sides. Then, bringing your attention to your upper spine, starting rotating (spinning) your upper spine from one side to the other. As your spine is rotating, allowing your arms to simply follow the movement of your upper spine. Your arms will be flopping around your body, and you can just let them do so, allowing them to be completely relaxed. Noticing the tendency of the hips to move here, however seeing if you can leave your hips staying still and facing forward while your upper spine is moving from one side to the other. You can stay spinning for a shorter or longer period of time. The longer you stay, the more fluidity you will feel in your spine. The more often you do this, the better! No forcing is needed, you are just allowing your spine to get used to this rotational movement.

Perhaps you are like me, not always connecting what happens on the yoga mat to how it will influence your daily life. And then, without notice, something pops up and you realise it came from your yoga practice. So fun to be amazed, and it all comes from your continuous practice. I challenge you – “Do the work and see what happens”!

I am starting Yoga for Back Pain classes in Wimbledon this November. It is not yet showing on my website, however in case this is of interest, please do not hesitate to contact me. And good luck with your spinning!

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Annette Wiik

My name is Annette. I am a Yoga Academy Certified Teacher (BWY-Accredited School) and started practising Hatha Yoga over 20 years ago. Holding a certificate from Bangor University to teach mindfulness-based courses, I incorporate my knowledge of mindfulness meditation in all my yoga classes. I have two grown-up children.