Do you know someone who never takes time-off from work? I do. And it scares me.
My new best friend is always working. She is a workaholic. Even on the rare occasion when she takes a day-off, Monique spends most of the time following up clients, making appointments and arranging her diary to fit in her clients. Sometimes I look at her and say “honey, ease off, take a break”. But Monique refuses to do that. Her whole life revolves around work. It is almost as if she is scared to get off the work treadmill and rest.
From a financial point of view, Monique’s bank balance glows and overflows from all her hard work, yet as an outsider looking in, I wish she would ease up, treat herself and take some time-out – just to rest, nourish and restore her body.
Fate Steps In.
As a Yoga Teacher, I meet all kinds of people. Stressed. Tired. Overworked. Lonely. Spiritual seekers and parents seeking a quiet space to unwind and get away from their kids. So I know, from their stories how destructive stress and lack of rest has on their relationships at home and tolerance levels at work.
Did you realise that stress is the cause of 80 to 85 % of all human illness and disease? And that over $22 Billion is spent on anxiety-related healthcare services each year. That’s a crazy sum of money – especially as most stress-related illness can be avoided or at least reduced.
Going back to Monique, she rang me the other day. Nothing unusual in that. Except today, she complained of back ache and wondered if I could recommend some of that “yoga stuff you do” to ease the soreness in her back. Monique had an important meeting later on that day and was worried that the pain in her back would get worse if she worked! Rather then lecture my friend and say your body is cracking up – you need to rest, I suggested Monique take five minutes out of her day,lay down and try these 3 simple yoga stretches.
Monique’s Fears Re Yoga
Monique is not very fit or physically active and a bit apprehensive in “doing yoga”. I reassured her that the stretches were gentle, could be done laying down in bed and could easily be done in 10 minutes. Although obviously, the longer she spent breathing and resting in the poses the deeper the benefit. I advised Monique to go and see her doctor, but Monique, being Monique said she was too busy to book a doctor’s appointment and just wanted something that would ease her aches and pains and get her through her day.
The three poses I suggested to Monique to release tension and soreness in her lower back are:
Hugging knees to chest
Knee hug spinal twist
Gentle spinal twist
Most of my yoga students experience stress-related lower back pain, and find great relief from including yoga as part of their daily routine.
If like Monique, you are new to yoga, please take your time and listen to your body. Any sign of pain, please stop and rest. Persistent back pain should be checked out with your doctor in case there are any underlying muscular imbalances.
Three Gentle Yoga Stretches To Ease Lower Back Pain
1. Hugging Knees To Chest
Laying on your back, gently hug your knees in toward your chest. Take 3 – 5 slow deep breaths in this pose. Keep your shoulders lowered and chin slightly tucked in. This stretch releases the lower back and lengthens the spine.
2. Knee Hug Spinal Twist
Still laying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on your bed or mat. Keep your hands by your side with the palms facing down. Then slowly hug your knees into your chest and place your arms out to your side with your palms down. Breathe in and as you exhale, twist your knees to the right as you turn your head to the left. Keep your shoulder blades securely resting on the bed/mat and stay in this position for 3-5 breaths. Gently return your knees and head back to the centre.Exhale and lower your knees to the left and turn your head to the right. Again, stay in this position for 3-5 rounds of deep breathing. Slowly move your knees and head back to the centre and rest awhile.
3. Gentle Spinal Twist
Sit on the floor on a mat or on your bed with your legs crossed. If this feels uncomfortable, sit on a cushion or yoga block. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand resting behind your back. Take a steady deep breath in and as you exhale gently twist to the right. Aim to look over your right shoulder as you focus on taking slow deep breaths. Exhale and gently twist back to the front. Relax and repeat the pose, twisting to the left.
Much to my delight, a few days later, Monique rang. She said she had tried the stretches that same day and her back feel a lot freer and lighter!!
I was really pleased, especially as Monique asked for further yoga poses to help her unwind her mind before going to bed….So maybe this could be the beginning of my friend learning how to relax and care for her body instead of working 24/7.
If you are interested in finding out more how yoga can help you ease back ache and have a peaceful night sleep, please drop me a line in the comments box below. Stay Blessed.