Sunday, 10 July 2016

Yoga for seniors - upper back pain

Upper back pain can result from poor posture over time.  It may also be accompanied by shoulder and neck pain or even lower back pain.  Most of our daily activities such as driving, working on a computer etc are done with our arms and shoulders forward tightening the shoulder and chest muscles and stretching the muscles across the back.  Eventually this causes rounding of the upper back and possibly uneven wear and tear on the vertebrae of the thoracic spine.  If you have worked on a computer there may also be a forward thrust of the head.  Your head is heavy - up to 12lb in weight and the lower back may try to compensate resulting in lower back pain.

The following sequence stretches the shoulder and chest muscles and releases tension in the neck.  The sequence can be practiced on a chair so it is suitable for all.

Please note - always check with your doctor if you have back issues before practicing yoga or any other exercises. 

Neck releases (all movements of the neck should be slow.  If you come across any tight areas stop and breathe into that area)- sit with a straight spine, your chin level with the floor. breathe in and as you breathe out take your chin to your chest, breathe in lift your chin up towards the ceiling.  Breathe out bring your chin down to your chest. 



Breathe in and as you breathe out circle your chin to your right shoulder.  Breathe in circle back to centre, breathe out circle your chin to your left shoulder and continue working with your breath.  After several movements breathe in come back to centre, and on your next breath in bring your chin back level with the floor.  



Breathe out drop your right ear to your right shoulder.  Hold for several breaths then inhale come back to centre, exhale drop your left ear to your left shoulder.  Hold for several breaths then inhale come back to centre.



Chest opening stretches - come towards the front of the chair and take your arms behind your back interlacing your fingers.  Inhale lift your chest as you take your arms up and out. Breathe out to release.  Take your hands into the right side of your waist, inhale and squeeze your elbows together, exhale to release.  Take your hands into the left side of your waist, inhale and squeeze your elbows together, exhale to release.



Eagle arms as a counter pose and to release any stiffness between the shoulder blades, take your arms up and sweep the right arm under the left bringing the backs of your hands together. This may be your pose or you may wrap your left arm in front of your right so that you can bring your palms together. Another modified version would be to bring your elbows and palms together. Lift your elbows up level with your shoulders. Hold for a few breaths then breathe out to release, repeat second side.


Seated Cat/Cow - place your hands on your knees, inhale lift your head and chest, exhale tuck your chin and round back.  Continue working with your breath for several movements. 

Seated twist - breathe in lengthen your spine, breathe out twist to your right holding the back of the chair (do not use the chair to force yourself into the twist).  Keep your chin in line with your chest if you have any neck issues. With each breath in lengthen your spine, with each breath out draw your navel back to your spine and maybe twist a little more.  To come out of the pose, breathe in lengthen your spine, breathe out release the twist.



Seated forward bend - breathe in lengthen your spine, breathe out fold over your legs. Hold for 5 breathe then breathe in slowly come up. 

To finish sit with your eyes closed and spend a few minutes watching your breath.  

Please also see, 'Yoga for seniors - lower back pain'- 
http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/yoga-for-seniors-lower-back-pain.html

Namaste,
Janet x

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