Category Archives: Improve Posture

Your posture influences your energy level, your mood, your self esteem and the way in which people around you re-act to you.
Here you can find tips and exercises on how to improve posture.
Whether you are young or old, it is never too late to work with your back and start improving your posture!

Here is a short example of an blog article with 6 tips on how to improve posture:

1. Sit straight

While we were young we probably all heard our parents tell us to “Sit straight!”
Do we still need that advice now?
The answer is “Yes!”
When you straighten up you allow…

2. Stretch up

After sitting in a chair working for 20 minutes, stretch your arms high up over your head, interlocking the fingers. Breathe deeply in and out. Stretch …

3. Use a pillow

When you are sitting on the couch, or driving your car you can put a small firm pillow in your lower back area. This prevents …

4. Get rid of the chair!

Get rid of your beautiful, expensive, soft and ideal for slouching executive chair! Go to the canteen and grab one of the chairs there. These are by far …

5. Lie down

Wrong posture puts strain on the muscles of your back, shoulders and neck. When you lie down these muscles get a chance …

6. Walk

Walking involves almost every muscle you have in your body. Wrong posture puts a static load on muscles in your back, neck and shoulders, cutting off free blood circulation in the muscle tissue. When you walk …

Read the full article on how to improve posture here: http://en.backmitra.com/2016/04/6-things-must-improve-posture/

5 Relaxing Yoga Exercises for a Good Night Sleep

Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together – Thomas Dekker

Sleep is the best meditation – Dalai Lama

How yoga can help you unwind?

A very common cause of sleeping disorders is stress. Stress prevents the body and the mind from relaxing and keeps thousands of people awake at night. And this is where yoga can make the difference. A gentle, restorative yoga practice can help to calm down the mind and to release physical tension. This type of yoga practice activates the parasympathetic nervous system or the bodies “rest-and-digest” system, which helps to counteract physical and mental stress.

Below you can find five yoga poses to help relieve tension in the body and the mind. Ideally they are practiced one hour to 30 minutes before going to sleep, or you can even do them in bed. They are easy poses to be held three to five minutes for maximum effect.

 

  1. Savasana – Corpse Pose

1-savasana-corpse-pose

Savasana or Corpse Pose is a very beneficial pose to calm down the mind and to relieve stress. It is commonly the starting and ending pose of any yoga practice.

  • Lie down on your back
  • Feet are mat width apart, toes dropping out
  • Arms are relaxed by your side, palms facing up
  • Shoulders are away from the ears, relaxing on the mat
  • Back of the neck is long, chin slightly tucked in

People with lower back pain might like to place a cushion under their knees to relieve tension in the lower back. If you feel tension in the neck you can also place a blanket or a low cushion under the head to keep the back of the neck long. As you lie in this pose, bring your focus to your breath, observing each inhalation and exhalation. Feel the expansion of your belly as you inhale and observe your belly relax as you exhale.

 

  1. Anuloma Viloma – Alternate Nostril Breathing2-anuloma-viloma-alt-ernate-nostril-breathing

Anulom Vilom or Alternate Nostril Breathing is an excellent breathing exercise to balance the right and left side of the brain and to calm down your thoughts.

  • Sit in a comfortable position
  • Place your left hand in Chin Mudra (tip of the thumb and index finger touching)
  • Place  your right hand in Vishnu Mudra (bending the index and middle finger)
  • Place your right thumb on your right nostril and breathe in through your left nostril for four counts
  • Close both nostrils using your right thumb and your right ring finger and little finger and hold your breath for eight counts
  • Release your thumb and breathe out through your right nostril for eight counts
  • Breathe in again through your right nostril for four counts
  • Close both nostrils using your right thumb and your right ring finger and little finger and hold your breath for eight counts
  • Breathe out through your left nostril for eight counts

This is one round. Continue this breathing exercise for five minutes. Once you feel comfortable with this ratio, you can hold your breath for 16 counts. While practicing Anulom Vilom, keep your focus on your breath, following each movement of your breath. This breathing exercise activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slows down the breath and the heart beat. Because you breathe in and out separately through each nostril for the same count, both hemispheres receive an equal amount of oxygen. The hemispheres are balanced and the mind is calmed down.

 

  1. Shashankasana – Child’s Pose

3-shashankasana-childs-pose

The following pose in this sequence for a good night sleep is Child’s Pose or Shashankasana (also called Balasana).

  • Sit on your knees in Diamond Pose, back straight
  • Keep your hips on your ankles and bend forward until your forehead touches the floor
  • Arms are relaxed by your side, palms of the hands facing up

When you are in this pose the hips should be resting on your heels and the head should be resting on the floor. If this is difficult you can make two fists and place your forehead on your fists or place your forehead on a cushion. If required you can also open the knees apart or place a cushion in between your hips and heels. Make sure you feel comfortable. With each exhalation let go of any tension in your body.

 

  1. Supta Baddhakonasana – Lying Butterfly Pose

4-supta-baddhakonasana-lying-butterfly-pose

Baddhakon asana is a very good yoga pose to increase hip flexibility. It is said that emotions such as tension, stress, anger, etc. are stored in the pelvis. By working on hip flexibility, the tensions in the hip joint and as a consequence also emotional tensions are relieved.

  • Place the souls of your feet together and let your knees drop out
  • Gently lean back and lie down on your back, keeping the souls of your feet together
  • Arms are relaxed by your side, palms facing up

If you can’t lie down completely on your back, you can use a bolster and lie on the bolster. Make sure your head and back are properly supported. If you feel tension in your knees you can place a cushion under your thighs to reduce the tension in the knees. Once you are comfortably in the pose, bring your focus to your pelvis. Use each exhalation to release the tension in your hip joints, and try to relax completely.

 

  1. Legs-up-the-wall pose

5-legs-up-the-wall-pose

The legs-up-the-wall pose is a very gentle inversion which improves blood circulation in your lower limbs. It is a very relaxing pose after a long day of standing on your feet.

  • Lie down on your back, hips touching the wall
  • Place your legs straight against the wall so your legs and upper body form a 90 degree angle
  • You can keep your legs together or open your legs wide for an extra stretch of the inner thighs
  • You can place your hands on your belly or relax your arms by your side, palms facing up

 

Tips and tricks for optimal sleep

Sleeping disorders can also be caused by improper sleeping habits or routines before sleeping. The activities you do prior to going to bed as well as the environment have a very big effect on your sleeping pattern. Therefore it is advisable to develop a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. This informs your body that it is almost bed time and gives it the chance to prepare. Here are some do’s and don’ts which might help you for a good night sleep:

  • Avoid watching TV or using the computer right before going to bed
  • Avoid coffee, chocolate or any other stimulating substance in the evening
  • Keep negative emotions such as worry and stress outside the bedroom
  • Avoid taking naps during the day
  • Avoid heavy workouts close to your bedtime
  • Take out 7-9 hours of sleeping time
  • Make your bedroom a cool, dark and quiet space
  • Use your bedroom for sleeping and relaxing only
  • Keep a notebook nearby to write down ideas and reminders for the next day

Developing a bedtime routine is very important to help you deal with insomnia for many reasons. It helps to calm the mind before bed, and it helps to condition your body and your mind in realizing that it is almost time to go to sleep. The yoga sequence in this article is a very gentle sequence suited for people of all ages and of all practice levels. You can play some relaxing background music and if you like you can also use some essential oils such as lavender to stimulate a relaxing and calming atmosphere. While practicing these yoga poses, avoid getting distracted with thoughts by bringing your focus to your breath, using each exhalation to release any tension.

Enjoy the relaxing yoga poses and… Sweet dreams!

————————–

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Yogi Ram, a renowned Yoga and philosophy teacher from India. He is the founding director of the Arhanta Yoga Ashrams in India and The Netherlands.

 

A Day Without Back Pain

A Day Without Back Pain

Back pain is a slow killer; at one moment in your life it creeps into your system, you then learn to live with it. Slowly it is getting worse and one day you may reach a point of no return when surgery is imminent. Do not let this happen!

It is time to set a goal: “I want to have a day without back pain within 2 weeks”.
Great! Now all you need is a plan on how to achieve this.

Here is a 5-step plan on how to improve your back’s condition.

1    Assessment
Where does my back hurt? When, constantly or only after certain movements?
If you experience a constant pain that radiates to other parts of your body it is time for immediate action: pick up the phone and call a chiropractor or an osteopath. You may have or be very close to having a herniated disk or a pinched sciatic nerve.
In early stages a herniated disk and sciatica can be treated very effectively with correct exercises. Find a therapeutic yoga or restorative alignment class. Do it today!!

If you have an intermittent pain, a pain that comes and goes, you can continue with the following steps.

2    Walk, walk, walk!
I am serious, literally walk wherever and whenever you can!
Walking involves all the muscles of your back and pelvis and with every step your vertebrae and pelvic bones move.
When moving muscles receive fresh blood and release tension. Each step you take sends a little shockwave up your body that may knock vertebrae or a misaligned SI-joint back to their correct position.
Walk when taking phone calls, park your car a few blocks from your work and walk the last part, go for short walks during every little break you have.

3    Use a pillow
If you have lower back pain and you sleep on your side, a pillow between your knees – or if you sleep on your back, a pillow under your knees – does wonders.
Use a small firm pillow in your lower back while driving or when sitting on a chair or couch.
For upper back pain or neck pain you might feel improvement when you change your pillow or leave it out altogether. Try one of those pillows with roll-like raised sides for neck support.

4    Exercise
Often the cause of back pain is when too little muscle mass has to do all the work.
Start doing regular exercises to strengthen the muscles of your back and to build muscle mass; go to the gym or join a yoga class. Take it slow! Don’t let yourself get carried away in competition or enthusiasm.

A great exercise for your back is hanging from a branch, a high bar or from the back of an open staircase. It has to be high enough to be able to hang with your whole body straight and relaxed. Do this for a few seconds, later maybe a minute, as long as your fingers can hold on. Relax the muscles of your back, let the weight of your legs elongate your spine and breathe. Careful! Strongly activate your abdominal muscles, compacting your body, when coming back down on your feet.

5    Do the right movements
– Lift or pick up things (and grandchildren) as close to your body as possible. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and activate your abdominal muscles, fixating spinal movement. Like this you prevent disk injuries.
Always completely turn your body towards the thing you are picking up.

– To stand up from a chair or couch first sit on the front edge, pull your feet as near as possible, and put your hands on your upper legs, elbows out. Now bend your upper body forward keeping your back straight, activate your abdominal muscles, and in a rocking movement push yourself up using both the strength of your arms and legs.
To sit down reverse the process.

– When doing seated work try sitting on the front edge of the chair with your back straight, without using the backrest. When this tires you, use a small firm pillow in your lower back as support.

– When gardening; Plant your vegetables and flowers in narrow beds to avoid over-reaching. You might even consider raised beds. Work in short sessions, get up often and walk about to enjoy the beauty around you 🙂

– Playing golf is risky for your back. When putting the ball on the tee or lifting up your golf bag, bend your knees and not your back. Make sure to activate your abdominal muscles before the swing and ease out of it by looking after the ball.
Do warming up exercises!

 

I greatly appreciate your feedback!
Please leave your comment, or if you want to share another tip, in the comment box below. ⬇

The BackMitra Pillow for a tight and rounded upper back

improve rounded and stiff upper back - BackMitra pillow
The pillow is designed to be mounted on top of the BackMitra® and suits the needs of those with tight and rounded upper backs. With the help of the pillow the neck can be stretched to a fuller extent, facilitating a more effective BackMitra® experience.

support for forward neck position - BackMitra Pillow
fig. 1

Place the pillow with the logo turned upwards onto the BackMitra in such a way that it supports the back of the head. This prevents the chin from lifting up during the exercises, helping to relieve the restricted feeling in the neck.

 

According to the needs of your back and neck you can choose between 2 heights by turning the pillow a quarter.

kyphosis treatment - BackMitra Pillow
fig. 2

Start using the pillow in the lower position (fig. 1).

If you still feel your chin is pointing upward you better use the high position (fig. 2). This position is recommended initially in cases of kyphosis or forward neck posture.

 

5 great tips to grow taller

5 Step Plan to Grow Taller

Did you know that in the morning you are a few centimeters taller than in the evening?
According to medical science this is due to re-absorption of liquid into the spinal disks during the night. During the day the disks lose their fluid bit by bit due to compression caused by the weight they are bearing, resulting in a shortening of the spinal column.
What no one mentions though is that part of the gain in height during the night is due to improvement in posture. While you are sleeping the muscles of your back and neck relax and unlearn the wrong posture they are submitted to during the day.

The question is: How we can make these few extra centimeters permanent?

1. How much can I gain?
– Perform this simple test.
Needed: A tape measure.
Time: In the evening before going to bed.
Stand in a doorway in a normal and relaxed position and measure the free space above your head. Write down the number. Now stand with your back against the side of the doorway, push your back against it and stretch the back of your neck by moving your chin to your chest. Now measure again and write down the number.
The difference in these two numbers is the height you can gain!
In the next steps you’ll find out what you can do to make this gain permanent.

2. Drink!
To counteract the loss of spinal disk fluid you have to make sure your body stays hydrated. Drink lots of water, but don’t overdo it; 2 liters (about 4 pints US) in moderate climates is more than enough.
Here are some alternatives to boring (c)old water:
Fresh fruit juice, herbal tea, aguas frescas (Did you ever try cucumber-lime? My absolute favorite!), kombucha, chia seed soaked in water, a cup of soup, or eat an apple, a mandarin or an orange.
No, coffee and alcoholic beverages are not on this list. They de-hydrate the body!
Tip! Try drinking a glass of lukewarm water and you’ll notice it goes down a lot easier than cold water.

3. Take a nap!
During a nap the muscles of your back and neck are relieved of the burden of wrong posture and get a chance to reset to their relaxed state. The spinal disks don’t have to bear load and will re-absorb fluid.
Try getting into a habit of taking short power naps. Not too long, just 5 to 10 minutes. Any longer and you’ll get into deep sleep and you will feel exhausted after waking up.

4. Work on your posture!
Taking regular walks, stretching up, adapting your working space, exercising and using a pillow can all contribute to improve your posture and in this way contribute to a permanent gain in your height. In my first blog post you can find some tips on how to improve your posture.

5. Stand Tall!
Let’s examine what is keeping us from standing tall.
Apart from examining pure physical factors I dare you to look the most important one straight into the eye: lack of self-esteem.
Here is a simple but very powerful exercise to help you grow. Repeat these phrases during your day. Really, try it for 2 weeks! You will be astonished with the result.

Monday: “I claim this space”

Tuesday: “I am OK!”

Wednesday: “What I think matters”

Thursday: “I will participate”

Friday: “I will look into your eyes”

Saturday: “I am beautiful”

Sunday: Well done! You’ve worked very hard this week and can take the entire day off 🙂

 

I greatly appreciate your feedback!
If you have any comments, or if you have another tip please leave it in the comment box below. ⬇

6 Things you must do to Improve your Posture

Your posture influences your energy level, your mood, your self esteem and the way in which people around you re-act to you.
Here are 6 tips on how to improve it.

1. Sit straight

While we were young we probably all heard our parents tell us to “Sit straight!”
Do we still need that advice now?
The answer is “Yes!”
When you straighten up you allow a free flow of blood to your brain, making you more alert, awake. If you catch yourself slouching in your chair give yourself a gentle reminder to sit up straight, again and again. Your body will start listening and with time your posture will improve.

Tip: To remind yourself to straighten up you can tie a bracelet around your wrist, or a piece of string around one finger, or paint one of your fingernails in a different color.

2. Stretch up

After sitting in a chair working for 20 minutes, stretch your arms high up over your head, interlocking the fingers. Breathe deeply in and out. Stretch up as high as you can! Now, without changing the position of your back, bring down your arms and relax your shoulders. Now you can continue work again, or your class.

Tip: In class the teacher might confuse your stretched up arms with participation. As an alternative you can stretch them behind your back, interlocking fingers.

3. Use a pillow

When you are sitting on the couch, or driving your car you can put a small firm pillow in your lower back area. This prevents your lower back from sagging and in this way allows the transmission of energy along the spine. When your lower back curves inwards your shoulders automatically move backwards and are able to relax.

4. Get rid of the chair!

Get rid of your beautiful, expensive, soft and ideal for slouching executive chair! Go to the canteen and grab one of the chairs there. They are by far ergonomically superior to your own fine chair.

Bonus point! Because now you can’t fidget with any knobs and leavers and can’t turn around and roll about, you might be able to concentrate on your work.

5. Lie down

Wrong posture puts strain on the muscles of your back, shoulders and neck. When you lie down these muscles get a chance to reset.

Short exercise: Lie down on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. With your hands lift your head an inch from the floor and move your chin towards your chest, stretching the back of your neck. Gently put you head back on the floor and place your arms beside your body. Breathe in and out 10 times. Try it now!

Bonus point! Tell your kids to do their gaming and whatever they are doing on their smart phones in this position. They’ll improve their posture greatly and get strong arms at the same time 😉

6. Walk

Walking involves almost every muscle you have in your body. Wrong posture puts a static load on muscles in your back, neck and shoulders, cutting off free blood circulation in the muscle tissue. When you walk these muscles get a chance to release this load, receive oxygen and relax.

Exercise: Put the thing you hold in your hand away for a moment and walk with your hands moving freely beside your body. Look ahead and you’ll see beauty around you.

I greatly appreciate your feedback!
If you have any comments, or if you have another tip please leave it in the comment box below. ⬇

How to Avoid Back Pain

To many of us it happens, with a sudden movement, after an intense workout, while lifting a load, or bending down to pick something up: back pain! All of a sudden we can’t do anymore what we used to do…

How to avoid back pain?
With only 5 to 10 minutes daily BackMitra exercises you can prevent tensions which cause back problems from building up.

How does this work?
The BackMitra creates space and relaxation through pressure.
By exerting pressure on the spine, the surrounding muscles relax and create space between the vertebrae. In this process the spine will return to its natural curvature and your posture will improve.
Read more…

BackMitra Exercises for Shoulders, Back and Neck

To start with

BackMitra - Correct placementYour head, neck and upper back are supposed to lie on the BackMitra, in such a way that the upper part of the spinal column is being supported. One end of the BackMitra is located below the shoulder blades (see photo on the right for correct positioning on the back).

Lying down

Put the BackMitra at the top middle of your mat with the logo facing sideways. Sit down with your back towards the BackMitra, knees pulled up.
Lean backwards onto your elbows, and continue downwards until you feel the BackMitra touching your back. Shift your body so one end of the BackMitra is touching the spine below the shoulder blades, in the spot directly below the lowest part of your breastbone.
Slowly lie down on the BackMitra.

BackMitra - Checking correct placementCheck the correct placement by drawing a line with your finger from the lowest point of your breastbone towards the floor, continue this line until reaching your spine. This is the point that rests on the end of the BackMitra. If you are not sure of your position use a mirror or ask someone else to help.

The knees are pulled up, feet and knees about hip-width apart, feet flat on the floor, heels turned slightly outward.
BackMitra - Starting PositionWith both hands lift up your head a few centimeters, move the chin towards the chest by looking at your knees. Put your head down slowly.
Check with your hand if there is free space between your lower back and the floor. If your lower back is flat on the floor, tilt your pelvis a little backwards in such a way that your hand fits underneath your lower back.
Place your arms next to your body and relax (if at this point you can’t see the tops of your knees without adjusting the position of your head you may consider using a BackMitra Pillow. This will allow the back of your neck to stretch to a fuller extend).

Exercise 1

BackMitra - Arms Shoulders Neck - Exercise 1Interlock your thumbs and exercise a light pull that you will maintain throughout the exercise.
Lift up your arms towards the ceiling. The arms don’t need to be fully stretched.
Lift up your arms as high as possible, in such a way that the shoulders lift off the floor. Now let your shoulders sink back to the floor, the arms stay stretched towards the ceiling.
Slowly move your arms over your head towards the floor. Feel the point of pressure shift on the BackMitra. BackMitra - Stretch Arms Overhead - Exercise 1Keep your attention on this moving point.
It is possible that you encounter resistance during this movement. Briefly halt there, breathe a couple of times in and out and slowly continue with your arms towards the floor.
Let go of your thumbs and slowly move your arms in a big circle, your hands barely touching the floor. Also in this movement you can encounter spots of resistance. Pause again, breathe and slowly continue until your arms are beside your body.
Again interlock your thumbs.
Repeat the exercise 2 times.

Continue with Exercise 2.

Important!
 If you are using a BackMitra Pillow, remove it now.

Exercise 2

BackMitra - Pelvis Lift - Exercise 2Arms slightly spread apart next to the body, hands on the floor or on the belly.
Press the ball of the feet into the floor, and with this pressure push the pelvis up. Continue until the pelvis is about 10 to 20 cm off the floor. The goal is not to lift up the pelvis as high as possible, but to slide the back of the head slightly upward so the back of the neck can stretch. If the knees have the tendency to move outward you can place a yoga block or something similar between the knees and keep a light pressure during exercise. Try not to get the force from your buttock muscles, but from the legs. The buttocks stay as relaxed as possible.
By lifting up the pelvis and the pressure from the feet the head shifts a little upwards, the back of the neck stretches and comes in contact with the BackMitra.

Important!
 If, while pushing the pelvis up, the chin wants to point towards the ceiling, lift up your head with both hands and move the chin towards the chest.

Breathe in and out 3 times.
Slowly come down, lightly toning your abdominal muscles, until your pelvis is on the floor.
Repeat this exercise 2 times.

Finishing

BackMitra - relax after the exercisesRoll to your right side and put the BackMitra next to the mat.
Roll onto your back, stretch your legs and relax.

Important!
 To get up: Roll to your right side and come up using the strength of your arms.

Here you can find videos with more BackMitra exercises.

Therapeutic Yoga with the BackMitra

Hello! I am Jose Luis, I am 20 years old, and I want to tell you about what happened to me.

Therapeutic and Restorative Yoga with the BackMitra
Jose Luis Espinosa Gomez

A little more than two years ago I went on a trip with my friends to Zihuatanejo, and I had an accident. At the hotel where we were staying I took a dive into the pool with terrible results; I hit my head on the bottom and I broke my neck. Although I was fully aware, I could not move my arms and legs, and I was drowning. Someone pulled me out of the water and I was taken to the hospital where I had an emergency operation to reconstruct the damaged 5th cervical vertebra; they had to use a bone from my hip to hold my spine with titanium plates and elastic bands. I had postoperative complications and suffered a cardiac arrest for 10 minutes. I was declared brain dead, and was subsequently induced into a coma to prevent more neurological damage. 10 days after that, my lungs collapsed because of an infection contracted from the water which entered my lungs when I was drowning.

Luckily the initial diagnose proved to be wrong: I woke up from the coma! I wasn’t brain dead after all! I found myself in a hospital bed immobile from the neck down and needing an artificial respirator. During the time in the hospital I started recovering little by little; I started breathing by myself, and after 4½ months I could sit up.

Therapeutic and Restorative Yoga with the BackMitra - cure severe back injuries
Working with the BackMitra

Since I got home I started an intense rehab program. I have worked with the BackMitra in sessions of therapeutic and restorative yoga. When I lie on the BackMitra I relax, improving my posture and my breathing, and my muscle spasticity (which is one of the consequences of spinal cord injury) is subsiding slowly. The BackMitra has helped me to sit more upright and to move my arms and legs with greater ease.

I’m sure that for people with injuries like mine, the BackMitra and therapeutic yoga are really helpful. I fully recommend it!