Healthy Tahoe: Yoga for back care, spine health

Andrea Snyder
A woman performs a yoga move at Barton Orthopedics.

Back pain can be caused by a multitude of issues, but correcting how we sit, stand or walk can often have a huge impact on the overall health of our spine.

Low back pain is one of the biggest complaints regarding ailments of the spine and many low back issues can stem from tight or weakened hip flexors, or tight and/ or weakened quadratus lumborum — the deepest abdominal muscle, located in your lower back on either side of the lumbar spine – causing imbalances in the sacroiliac joints. SI joints is where the top of your pelvis attaches to the lower part of your spine.

When addressing a client with low back pain, one of the first things we do is look at their current shape when sitting or standing – do they hike a hip or put all their weight on one foot while standing? Do they cross their legs when seated or tend to sit towards one side? Do they typically have a phone or wallet in their back pocket which might be causing a slight elevation in one hip? Making simple adjustments in daily habits, such as posture, can make a huge difference.

In addition to adjusting our daily posture and movement habits, we can also incorporate yoga movements to improve and maintain spine health. Yoga can help with stabilization, strengthening, increasing circulation and mobility, identifying dysfunctional and replacing those with functional movement patterns.

We depend on the strength and flexibility of our spine for nearly everything we do, from walking and sitting, to transitioning in and out of many common exercises or stretches. In order to move through the wide range of motion we task our spine with on a regular basis, we need it to be both strong and flexible. These yoga “poses” or “stretches” are designed to strengthen or elongate the spine:

●Child’s Pose

●Happy Baby


●Seated Spine Twist

●Wide Legged Forward Fold

●Figure 4 Stretch

●Downward Dog

If you are new to yoga movement, or are recovering from a recent injury, please consult your physician before adapting any of these practices into your daily routine.

Andrea Snyder is an ERYT 500 certified Yoga Therapist. Andrea teaches Barton Performance’s Gentle Yoga class at the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness. To register for group classes at Barton Performance, call 530-600-1976, or to learn more about back health, visit

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