Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Love Your Spine, Try a Yoga Wall

Find length and traction in the spine when utilizing the yoga wall. If you think about the amount of time we spend hunched over in the spine, while sitting, standing, and walking with poor posture, we realize how important it is to reverse these unhealthy habits.

If we begin to implement the mindful practice of yoga into our day, even a short 20 minute regimen, we can begin to stand more erect and retrain the muscles that support the spine. This daily practice will create more mobility and strength while reversing daily compression and the aging process.

Practicing yoga with the added use of the yoga walls has incredible therapeutic benefits to build strength, extension and mobility in the spine, bringing back the natural curves of the spine and overall-good health. Yoga walls are a specialty practice and are only offered at limited studios.

The roots of the yoga wall are found in the tradition of B.K.S. Iyengar, and the traditional rope walls. Iyengar is the founder of the style of yoga known as "Iyengar Yoga" and is considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world, also referred to as “the father of modern yoga”. His teaching is based on alignment and classes include using many props in order to meet the needs of all body types.

Practicing yoga walls and rope walls are very different, yet they both leave the practitioner with similar benefits when practicing mindfully and with good instruction. Proper form building length and traction of the spine help to bring a feeling of vitality and release to the spine.

To access Downward Facing Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana on the Yoga Walls, with the heels up the wall: Place the straps and harness to hang at about the knees when standing. Move into the harness, head-first, bringing the harness to the hips. Walk forward until the harness and straps become tight.

Take an inhale breath and lengthen the spine, lifting the heart space and sternum up towards the ceiling. On an exhale, bring the palms to the harness and forward fold with a flat-back. Bring the palms to the ground, shoulder-width distance apart, and walk the feet back towards the wall and bring the heels up the wall.

Extend the palms forward so that you can maximize length in the spine. Completely relax the head and neck. Allow the spine to decompress and take long, fluid rhythmic breaths while inverted, allowing the body and mind to calm. Stay here for 3-5 full rounds of breath.

To access Downward Facing Dog with a twist: Take an inhale breath to lengthen the spine. On an exhale, reach the right palm towards the left leg, placing the hand to the leg, where it is accessible-the thigh, outside of the knee, or the shin. Stay here and breathe for 3-5 full rounds of breath. Slowly unwind and repeat the instructions on the opposite side.

To come out: Slowly walk the feet back down to the ground and away from the wall until the harness and straps become tight. Bring the palms to the harness. On an inhale breath, rise back to standing. Rise, leading with the heart and with a flat-back to protect the low-back. If you feel dizzy, bring the palms and forehead to the wall. Lean into the wall and allow a sense of equilibrium to come back to the body and mind.

There are contraindications to be considered when using the yoga walls and moving into any kind of inversions, when the head is lower than the heart. High blood pressure, pregnancy, and eye conditions, like glaucoma, retinal detachment, and conjunctivitis are reasons to be cautious and perhaps not practice this type of yoga.

“Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed.”
― B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life

Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out. Learning to use the yoga walls is a gradual process and takes an adjustment period while being upside down.

Christi Iacono, In Rhythms Yoga, 500 hour., certified yoga teacher and Happy Back Yoga certified teacher.

Christi is a 500 hour certified yoga teacher, including Happy Back Yoga certification with Rachel Krentzman. Happy Back focuses on spinal health, by building strength and mobility back into the spine. Christi has an intimate space in Clairemont, San Diego, In Rhythms Yoga, located in the Mount streets. Yoga walls have recently been installed in her studio and Christi, her husband, kids, clients and friends all love joining in the yoga wall experience.

She has practiced many different styles of yoga since the 1990’s and it has brought much joy and healing to her life. She enjoys sharing her experience, passion, and dedication with her students. Christi believes that yoga is accessible to all. Rather than forcing someone’s body into a pose, she carefully works with each individual to find the variation that will best serve your body. Contact for more info. Go to to see the class schedule and instructors.

Healthy Back Yoga Walls Class is currently scheduled, Thursdays, 5-6 pm and Saturday mornings, 10:15 am-11:15 am. Please sign-up online via MINDBODY online, space is limited and classes do fill.

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