Lengthening Your Spine

You are only as old as your spine, goes a well known yogi saying.  So important is the health of your spine that it can determine the state of your overall physical well-being.

Spinal Structure

Consisting of a series of vertebrae separated by intervertebral discs, the spine has natural curves to provide strength and support. Without this curvature, the stacking of vertebrae in an absolutely straight and up-and-down line would likely buckle under the pressure of the weight of the body.

By maintaining the spinal curves and encouraging an open space between the vertebrae, the spine’s natural strength and health is supported.

Compression of the vertebrae occurs naturally over time as we age. The gel sacs that make up the discs in the space can dehydrate, and the spine can start to lose its suppleness. The spinal curves can become misaligned. As a result, the entire architectural structure of the body can be thrown off. Pain or injury is the result.

Caring for the Spine

Yoga is one way to improve the health of the spine. By practicing asanas such as Forward Bend, Triangle, Half Chair, Camel and Fish poses, among others, the back is decompressed. In a similar way as traction works where the goal is to pull the vertebrae apart from each other, practicing yoga that incorporates stretching of the back can result in a lengthening of the spine.

In fact, some yoga practitioners maintain that consistent practice of yoga for a year or more can result in up to an inch gain in height. This lengthening is both from improved posture resulting from a usual yoga practice as well as from the increased space between the vertebrae that can result from decompression.

Not only are there long-term results of yoga on the spine, but spinal releases can also assist in reducing immediate pain or discomfort. A seasoned yoga instructor can supervise those injured or in discomfort in the proper use of yoga in lessening back pain.

In addition to those asanas that directly stretch the back, poses that focus on core strengthening are also integral to supporting the back.

Spinal Health and the Body

With a strong and supported spine, the entire body is better aligned. Healthy spaces between the vertebrae leave discs that are intact and plump. This spinal health is apparent in how someone stands, walks and moves.

Good posture can lead to better spinal health, but what is often overlooked is that a healthy spine can also lead to better posture. Yoga is a path to regaining a healthy spine. And that can allow you to count your years by the state of your spine.

Don’t let your spine age you prematurely. Let your supple and flexible spinal column feel released and capable of supporting you with ease.

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