FoxNews Workout Wednesday, The Supple Spine: Back bending

IMG_8401Today on Fox46 MyCarolinas I went over increasing your mobility by back bending. Click here or on the photo above to watch me take Erick through the back bending routine!

The Supple Spine: Back Bending

If you think about it, most of our daily movements are spent in forward motion. We don’t spend time defying gravity by moving side to side, upside-down, or backward, it just feels natural to bend forward. It’s also the obvious thing to do when picking something off the floor. But backbends offer a new way to move our spine. They create a balance between our everyday movement while breaking-up the rigidity and poor alignment of our spine.
Backbends also alleviate chronic back pain which is an epidemic in our society today. Because backbends stretch the heart they relieve tensions stored in the muscles and help send off natural pain-killers throughout the body and particularly in the areas surrounding the spine. They are also know for treating depression and boosting the immune system.

Try holding each pose for 15sec or more. You can stretch too much so stay connected to your body and don’t push so hard that you lose control of your body. You’ll make advancements and get deeper into these poses each time you practice so be patient and remember to breathe.

Beginner
-Ly on 2, Yoga Blocks to open through chestIMG_8405
*option: use barbell to ground upper body with straight arms overhead
-Hip Bridge
Roll shoulders down and into mat as you raise your hips. Keep feet hip width apart and palms pressed into the mat or interlaced below your spine.

Intermediate
-Wheel IMG_8399
Open through your upper body & strengthen the low body with this pose. Bring your hands on either side of your ears and keep elbows tracking over your wrists as you lift into wheel and push your upper body forward. To lift higher, squeeze & shorten through the front of your hips and extend through your low back. Work to straighten arms by stacking elbows over wrists, shoulders over elbows.  Feel your shoulder blades slide down your back and keep space between your shoulders & ears. The low body provides the power in this pose so keep your butt tight and push the floor away.
-Camel Pose
Knees & feet hip distance apart, place hands on low back while squeezing elbows together. Drop he’d back and slowly fall back until you can reach the back of your feet. Place palms on feet and drive your hips forward, keeping flutes tight and feeling the extreme opening through your chest. Walk your hands up your back, head and neck are last as you lift up one vertebrae at a time to come out of this pose.

Advanced click on pics to get instructions on how to do these poses

Hallow Back

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Thunderbolt

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Note: If you are going through a sequence of backbends, forward bends and other counter postures should be added between. Hold them for double the time as the backbends.

8 Ways to Get Quality Sleep plus Night Time Yoga printables

Sleep quality is something we all need to examine in our lives.  Well rested people are often happier, healthier, more flexible (in their mindset), relaxed and focused. We all want more of those things! Whether you have unexplained insomnia or just the occasional sleepless night triggered by yet another stressful day, we all know what the next day feels like. You’re lethargic, on edge and everything around you pays the price. Your work, your family and friends, 294513_435233756519516_385155247_nthey are all effected because you sometimes snap at them for no apparent reason. (I’m sorry to everyone who has suffered from my wrath after a sleepless night!)
Sleep disorders are tricky because there are so many variables that can affect a restless night. Was it diet related? Did you work out too close to bedtime? Are you over-exhausted? Are you too worried about something and can’t get your brain to stop thinking and let it go? Even if you can’t pinpoint the exact cause, there are ways to help shake that restless mind & body and finally fall into the deep sleep your body craves.

How Lack of Sleep affects the Brain
Sleep plays a critical role in alertness, concentration, reasoning, memory, judgement and problem solving. A 2010 study, by the UCSD School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in San Diego, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to monitor activity in the brains of sleep-deprived subjects performing simple verbal learning tasks. They found that the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where we process memory and logical reasoning, was more active in the sleep deprived subjects than in non-sleep deprived subjects. They interpreted this difference by indicating that the brain of a sleep deprived person had to work harder than their well rested, peers. The study goes on to point out how all parts of the brain don’t work as efficiently without sleep, but it’s not the only organ who suffers when we don’t sleep. “We know that a lack of sleep can lead to all kinds of problems,” explains Dr. Neal Maru, a neurologist and sleep specialist with Integrated Sleep Services in Alexandria, VA. “Poor sleep can affect our immune systems, our cardiovascular health, hormone stability, weight and, of course, memories.”

How to get Quality Sleep
So now that we understand a bit about what happens to our bodies if we don’t sleep well, I want to share some of my favorite remedies to help you get the sleep your body needs in order to function the way it’s supposed to. The key is to calm the central nervous system which means relaxing your mind and your body, so go through these tips and try each one till you find what really works for you. Remember that regular exercise is one of the best ways to regulate sleep and improve the quality, I see it happen all the time with my clients! So if you’re not exercising regularly than add in 30min of movement daily. It should help! Good Luck!

8 Night-time Rituals for Quality Sleep
1. Stop eating 2-3hrs before bed
2. Drink caffeine free, herbal teas to ease late night cravings and to calm down
3. Soak in an epsom salt bath for 15min to relieve muscle tension
4. Drizzle lavender oil on pillow or use topically
5. Turn off electronics about an hour before bed
6. Do night-time yoga, while thinking of what your grateful for during that day
7. Practice breathing technique
8. Read or write in a journal, in bed about 15-20min before you want to be asleep

Night Time Yoga
Your goal while doing night-time yoga is to fully relax. This sequence is full of gentle, basic postures. The flow should be slow-paced, filled with deep breathing and finished with seated meditation or Corpse pose.yoga sequence

Breathing Exercise
sit on heels, palms up, close eyes and breathe
6 count breathe in through nose…
3 count hold…
8 count exhale through back of throat

Inversions
Inversions reverse blood flow through the body, helping to bring new vitality and relax you before going to sleep. *inversions, like Wheel and Plow pose, are good for more advanced practitioners who can get into them easily

sleep final
Bridge & Wheel
Beginners, do Bridge before advancing to Wheel.
Bridge opens the chest so the lungs can function better, it stretches the muscles of the chest, belly, hips and legs, while engaging & strengthening the muscles on the back body. Wheel stretches the organs in the belly, stimulating circulation and increasing the functioning of the organs. It also massages the kidneys and stimulates the adrenal glands, which make us feel more energized and alive.
Plow
Plow is an effective, therapeutic, power house of a pose that can relieve and remedy chronic back pain, digestive dysfunctions, hormonal disorders, headaches, stress while offering relief to those who suffer from asthma, coughs and colds as the accumulation of phlegm and mucus in the sinuses and respiratory system is alleviated and flushed from the lungs.
The spine and shoulders are actively stretched while the back muscles, hamstrings and abdomen are strengthened. It also releases tension often held in the neck and throat.
*Halasana should be approached and carried out with care, especially if you are or suffering from existing ailments that correspond with the targeted therapeutic body parts, glands and systems. Halasana should be avoided if you suffer from neck or disc problems, high blood pressure, an enlarged thyroid, liver or spleen, and women who are menstruating or are pregnant should avoid Halasana all together.

Hip & Hamstring Opening Sequence

Since most of us have tight hips and hamstrings I decided to add this bonus sequence.  Relieving the tension we create and store in our hips can make you feel so relaxed.  Sometimes I only do this sequence before bed since I, like most people, need relief in my hips and back of the legs more than any other area on my body.

hamstring, hip opener

And don’t forget how a quality mattress will affect your sleep.  Casper Mattresses are top rated and high-tech so if you’re in the market for a new mattress check them out!

references: cnnhealth.com, nih.com, bed time story by:Dr. John M Berardi, Ph.D.