Its all about the spine

Throughout my time in the Tirisula studio, I have constantly heard Wei Ling instruct, ‘engage your abdominals, keep your spine straight’. With my own spinal problems as well as always wanting a flat stomach, I wanted to find the advantages of a straight spine and strong abdominals.
So why should you engage your core?
When the abdomen becomes fat and flabby, the spine sags. The lumbar spine acts like the handle of a bag holding the contents of the abdomen. If you have too much fat on your stomach, the contents of the bag becomes heavy due to deposition on the intestines.
Mesentery is a fold of the peritoneum which attaches the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen and other organs to the posterior wall of the abdomen. In an obese person, mesentery is one of the major depots of extra fat. The abdominal muscles support the contents in the bag from in front. If they are weak and flabby, the intestines fall forward, causing a pull on the vertebrae behind, thus leading to backache. Excess fat deposition in the abdominal wall also causes a pull on the lumbar vertebrae. In women, if the uterus is not properly placed, low back pain may also result.
So which poses will help to keep the spine straight?
The forward, backward and sideward bending poses mobilise the inter-vertebral joints, develop the supporting muscles of the spine, strengthening the ligaments and massaging the nerves and blood vessels. These are essential throughout your life, especially later on in life. The development and maintenance occurs equally on each side so the possibility of unequal tensions on the spine is vastly reduced. If someone has a disc problems (like I do) or even sciatica, the backward bending poses for the lower spine are essential. The best ones for this are Shalabhasana (Locust pose), Ushtrasana (Camel pose), Dhanurasana (Bow pose), and Bhujangasana (Cobra pose).
Other easier poses that are great for the spine are Shavasana, which relaxes the entire musculature and Tadasana which stretches the spinal ligaments, relieves pressure on the inter-vertebral discs and lessens wear and tear. Similarly, the inverted asana Sirshasana (head stand) and Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), change the pressure points, where the body weight is brought to bear on the lumbar vertebrae. This reduces strain on the lower back.
Not only do the poses help to keep the spine straight but breathing exercises such as Bhastrika pranayama, Agnisar and Nauli develop the abdominals to help keep the spine strong without the hard core, sweaty abdominal exercises!
Below shows which poses can help the spine …
BHARADVJA’S TWIST – The gentle twist is a tonic for the spine and the abdominal organs
PARIPURNA NAVASANA – This helps to strengthen the flexors and abdominals.
USTRASANA – This helps the flexibility of your back as well as increasing your energy
MARJARVASANA- This pose provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs.
BHUJANGASANA – Opens the heart and rolls the shoulders down to promote flexibility in Cobra Pose.
BITILASANA – Cow Pose is an easy, gentle way to warm up the spine.
Luisa Vass TYY 200 (weekday)

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