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Calling all office workers! Yoga is the key to soothing aches and pains and building a strong, trouble-free spine

Back pain is a big problem and chances are, you know all about it. It’s one of the most commonly treated health problems in the UK and is often a result of sitting ¡n one position for a long period of time (hello, work desk), a weak core or an inactive lifestyle.

Chronic back pain is classed as any pain that lasts for six weeks. Even though particularly bad back pain like this could tempt you to take it easy on the workouts, the trick is never to cut Out activity altogether - keeping mobile helps to decompress your spine so that it remains as supple as possible. In fact, staying active plays such a vital role in beating back pain, it’s been estimated that the NHS could cut down on the staggering $2.1 billion a year spent on back pain treatment by simply prescribing a course of yoga classes to patients.

It could mean fewer sick days, too. Researchers from the University of York and Hull York Medical School put yoga to the test in a 12-week program for back-pain sufferers and compared it to conventional GP treatment. They found that those practicing yoga only took four days off during this period, costing around $561 per person, while the group using the conventional treatment took 12 days off work, adding up to about $1803. Plus, members of the yoga group were able to do 30 per cent more activities compared with those in the usual care group after the three months.

‘Regularly performing a simple sequence of yoga poses can help soothe back pain and better align the spine, hips and legs,’ explains Jennifer Ellis from London yoga studio Yotopia (yotopia.co.uk). ‘It’s important to balance out a strengthened and lengthened abdominal core with the natural primary and secondary curvature of the back. This should be done without over-emphasizing a hardened abdominal core, which can place further stress on the spine.’

Jennifer has helped us devise an easy pain-relieving yoga sequence you can perform anywhere. Practiced carefully, this simple sequence will help with the symptoms associated with back pain. ‘The body likes to move!’ Jennifer explains. Just remember to consult your doctor before attempting any new form of exercise if you suffer from a serious back condition.

How to do it

Perform these poses in a sequence, flowing from one to the next. One sequence is fine for beginner and intermediate yogis, but if you’re more experienced you can increase the difficulty by holding the poses for longer. If necessary, take a break between each posture, resting in child’s pose.

Child’s pose

Technique

Child’s pose

Child’s pose

Start by sitting on your heels with you r big toes touching and your knees apart, leaving room for your body to settle between your knees.

Exhale and fold your body over your thighs, allowing your forehead to rest on the mat; your arms can be extended forward or placed alongside your legs.

Rest in this pose for a few minutes, allowing your body to soften and open naturally, with your spine neutral.

Cat cow

Technique

Cat cow

Cat cow

Draw up onto all fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Unlock and soften your elbow joints.

Inhale, gently drawing your sternum and chin forward as you soften your shoulder blades and lift your tailbone upwards (this is cow pose).

Exhale and drop your chin to your chest, rounding the spine and dropping your tailbone (this is cat pose).

Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Puppy dog and downward doc

Technique

Puppy dog and downward doc

Puppy dog and downward doc

From cat pose, curl your toes underneath you, then draw your bottom backward and straighten your arms.

Elongate your spine and lengthen your neck. This is puppy dog pose - remain in this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.

In hale, pressing into your palms and drawing your knees off the mat, into downward dog.

Exhale as you straighten your legs, pressing back through your legs and broadening the back of your knees. Allow your heels to drop and lengthen your spine toward your hands

Draw your shoulder blades apart and your back toward your ribs. Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths.

Drop down to puppy dog position, then child’s pose. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

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