Often I hear from a student, “I have a bad back!” But what exactly does that mean? The “back” makes up a large percentage of our body, with 33 vertebrae in total. (Although to be fair, some of those vertebrae are fused together.)
With that much substance and so many moving parts, of course a variety of things can go wrong, or wear down over time. So when a student says “I have a bad back,” she usually doesn’t mean the entire back has all possible problems. Instead, she means that only part of the back has troubles, and only with certain movements.
There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for every type of back problem, but if you have “bad back” troubles – it’s likely that you can find relief with the support of the yoga hammock in an Unnata® Aerial Yoga class.
More Space in the Spine
The most memorable moment of an aerial yoga class is when the body is fully supported by the hammock, and you are hanging upside-down. While suspended, the spine lengthens and you gain more space between the vertebrae. You can actually measure the difference in your height before and after hanging. If your back troubles stem from anything where your intervertebral discs need more space – this single position can provide great relief.
Build Core Strength
Getting into and out of an inverted position develops core strength that supports length in the lower back. For many people with lower back (lumbar spine) discomfort, weak abdominal muscles are the root problem. With practice, getting into and out of an inverted position builds the core strength to alleviate lower back problems.
Correct the Curve
If you experience back pain in the upper back (thoracic spine), the discomfort is often caused by excessive curvature or improper head-neck alignment. One common Unnata® Aerial Yoga position uses the hammock like the backrest of an office chair. Press your thoracic spine into the hammock, then drape your head and shoulders over the back of the hammock, your torso and legs in front of the hammock. This encourages the upper back (thoracic spine) to curve in the opposite direction from its natural bend. Use the legs to control how much of a curve the spine will express, so you can slowly and gently explore undoing an excessive curvature. Breathe deeply – the mechanics of breath support the desired length and modified curve.
What’s Really Going On?
If you describe yourself as having “a bad back,” I encourage you to look for a little more detail into what is causing your discomfort. If it is caused or aggravated by any of the problems mentioned above, it is quite possible you can use Unnata® Aerial Yoga classes to ease your discomfort and rehabilitate your back.
About the Author
Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata® Aerial Yoga, is an E-RYT 200 certified Yoga instructor of close to 20 years, while during most of those years also being a professional aerial acrobatics performer. Her most influential Yoga teachers include Dharma Mittra, Alan Finger and Cyndi Lee.