Yoga for Writers #4
* HEALTH FOR WRITERS series
By JEANAN GLAZIER
Have you ever felt like your back was against the wall? Of course you have.
“Having your back against the wall” usually implies: you’ve come to the end of your tether and/or you’ve run out of options. Do you notice what those implications have in common? Both are negative. However, when it comes to yoga, “having your back against the wall” is a positive position.
Having your back against the wall will be easier to do if we talk about having your back against the floor first.
Lay on the floor. Knees bent and pointing to the ceiling, feet flat on the floor and about hip-width apart. Arms are alongside your body with the palms down. Place one hand under the small of your back. Most people will be able to do this easily because most people have a natural arch in this area. Hint: it is best to practice this pose in bare feet or flat shoes. No high heels.
Now, keeping your hand under the small of your back, press the small of your back down, right on top of your hand. Notice how this feels. Let your back return to its normal, arched position. Remove your hand and return it alongside your body, palm down.
You’re going to repeat this motion. Inhale. As you exhale, press the small of your back into the floor. As you inhale, allow your back to return to its normal, arched position. Hint: some people find it helpful to press lightly into the palms and the soles of the feet while practicing this pose.
This rocking motion is also called the pelvic tilt. Whatever you call it, the repetition of pressing the spine into the floor followed by lifting the spine away from the floor does several wonderful things: a) the motion increases flexibility in the spine b) the back muscles are massaged against the floor c) the abdominals are toned. Your aim is three to five pelvic tilts, although you may do more if you feel like it.
Now, let’s say you’re in an office environment, and not in the privacy of your home. You need wall space at least as wide as your shoulders. If you have both a private office and the necessary wall space, it’s time to shut the door. If you’re in a more public environment, case the joint, and see if there is any wall space available. Maybe there’s a spot in the kitchen or in the ladies’ room. Once you have your wall space, the only other thing you need is about five minutes to turn “back against the floor” into “back against the wall”.
Bare feet or flat shoes are okay, but you cannot practice this pose in high heels. Lean back against the wall. Place your heels as close to the wall as you can. Scoot your back down and walk your feet forward until your legs are bent at about 90° to the floor and to your hips. Your feet are flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. They are directly underneath your knees. You may rest your arms alongside your body with your palms pressing against the wall, but many people find it more comfortable to rest the palms on top of your thighs. Basically, you are in the same position against the wall as you were against the floor.
Slide one hand under the small of your back. Again, most people will be able to do this easily because most people have a natural arch in this area. Now, keeping your hand under the small of your back, press the small of your back right against your hand. Notice how this feels. Let your back return to its normal, arched position. Remove your hand and return it to the top of your thigh, palm down.
You’re going to repeat the rocking motion aka the pelvic tilt. Inhale. As you exhale, press the small of your back against the wall. As you inhale, allow your back to return to its normal, arched position. Aim for three to five pelvic tilts, although you may do more if you feel like it. The standing version of “back against the wall” does the same wonderful things for you as the “back against the floor” version. In addition, it also strengthens the muscles in your legs and backside. When you are finished, gradually wiggle your back up the wall and walk your feet back to the wall. Shake out your legs.
Speaking of your legs, the number of “back against the wall poses” you do depends a lot upon the strength of your legs. It’s okay if your legs tremble some; this is your muscles working. You may only be able to do one or two pelvic tilts. That’s okay! However, if you feel pain or discomfort in your legs, then gradually wiggle your back up the wall and walk your feet back to the wall. Shake out your legs.
If you are in a place where you cannot practice “back against the wall” or “back against the floor”, try this alternative for stretching your spine: sit up as straight as possible in your chair. As you exhale, drop your chin into your collarbone. Inhale. As you exhale, let your shoulders drop forward and allow your back to curve like a comma. As long as you are comfortable and the stretch feels good, curve a little more deeply with each exhalation. Five breaths are good. (One breath equals an inhalation plus an exhalation.) When you are ready, slowly curl back up to your starting position on an inhalation.
Practicing “back against the floor” or “back against the wall” will help you feel ready to get back to work!
DISCLAIMER: These exercises are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician before attempting these or any other exercise program. Romance Divas and Jeanan Glazier disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercises herein.
JEANAN GLAZIER attended her first yoga class when she was fifteen. (This was 1974 for anyone who is counting!) As a student of jazz dance and the only teenager in a class of women aged 30-45, Jeanan began observing how yoga poses fit different bodies and individual levels of ability. Jeanan received teacher certification in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in 2001. She has taught classes and provided private yoga instruction in Ohio and Florida. Jeanan has enjoyed many fitness activities from running and rock climbing to her current challenge: aqua aerobics. However, yoga continues to be her one constant activity.
As a writer of contemporary and young adult fiction, Jeanan not only knows where the body feels the hours spent in front of a computer or hunched over a desk, but also the yoga poses which can bring relief to the stiffness and soreness. Jeanan believes wholeheartedly that a more flexible body creates a more flexible mind. Yoga can give the imagination a tweak, maybe even a tune-up. What writer wouldn’t appreciate this benefit?!