9 Go To Yoga Poses for Back Pain

Like many people, I have suffered from nagging lower back pain for years. I've come to learn that there are many causes for chronic pain in the lower back and depending on the individual, there can be a variety of solutions. In my own journey I have found that a yoga practice (combined with other forms of exercise) has given me lots of relief from this ailment. 

I will probably spend more time on this blog writing about my own ups and downs with back issues, but for now I'd like to enlighten you to some yoga moves to help those with similar problems. While there are hundreds of individual yoga poses, these are the ones I have found to be very effective in alleviating that dreaded lower back pain. These 9 Poses are great for relief, but if you want a comprehensive guidebook (complete with photo instructions), click here.

In the meantime, let's here are my go to poses:

Knees To Chest 

Lie on your back and draw your knees towards your chest. Breathe in and out squeezing your legs gently towards you on your out-breaths.

Cat/Cow

Starting in an all-fours position, move into cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up, arching your back. Hold for a few seconds and then move to cow by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. Moving back and forth from cat to cow helps move your spine onto a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension.

Seated or Standing Forward Fold

From a seated position with your legs extended forward, reach for your shins, ankles, or feet, bending at the hips. Instead of rounding your back, continue to reach your sternum forward, lengthening the torso. If this hurts your back, bend your knees as needed.

Child's Pose

Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs.

Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.

Camel Pose

Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs inward slightly, narrow your hip points, and firm but don't harden your buttocks.  Keep your outer hips as soft as possible. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.

Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone. Then lightly firm the tail forward, toward the pubis

Lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. For the time being keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis.

Release the front ribs and lift the front of the pelvis up, toward the ribs. Then lift the lower back ribs away from the pelvis to keep the lower spine as long as possible. Press your palms firmly against your soles (or heels), with the bases of the palms on the heels and the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back.

Plow Pose

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From Shoulder Stand, bend at your hips to bring your toes or top of your feet to the floor. Your hands can remain against your back for support, or you can clasp them together, keeping your forearms on the floor. Hold this as long as is comfortable to get a powerful stretch in your shoulders and spine. If this is too much, you can place a chair behind and you rest your feet on the chair.

Knee Twist or Spinal Twist

 
 

Starting in a seated position, bring your left foot outside your right knee. Extend your right arm up, hook your right elbow outside your left knee and look over your left shoulder. Hold for three breaths before repeating on the opposite side.

Thread the Needle or Pigeon

 
 

For Thread the Needle:

Lying on your back, bend both knees with the feet flat on the ground. Bend the right knee like a figure four, with the outer left ankle to the right thigh. Lift the left foot into the air, bringing the left calf parallel to the ground. Thread your right hand between the opening of the legs and interlace your hands behind your left thigh. Hold 2-3 minutes and then repeat on the other side.

For Pigeon:

From all-fours, bring your right knee behind your right wrist with your lower leg at a diagonal toward your left hip. Square off your hips toward the ground. Bend forward. Widen the elbows and place one hand on top of the other as a pillow for your forehead. Hold 2-3 minutes and then switch to the left side for 2-3 minutes.

Upward Dog + Downward Dog

For Upward Dog:

Begin by lying face-down on the floor with your legs extended behind you, spread a few inches apart. The tops of your feet should rest on the mat. Place your hands on the floor alongside your body, next to your lower ribs. Point your fingers to the top of the mat and hug your elbows in close to your ribcage.

Inhale as you press through your hands firmly into the floor. Straighten your arms, lifting your torso and your legs a few inches off the floor. Press down firmly through the tops of your feet. Strongly engage your leg muscles to keep your thighs lifted off the floor. Keep your elbows pressed alongside your body. Drop your shoulders away from your ears and lift your chest toward the ceiling.

Draw your shoulders back and your heart forward, but do not crunch your neck. If your neck is flexible, tilt your head to gaze toward the sky. Otherwise, keep your head neutral and your gaze directly forward.

For Downward Dog:

Start in tabletop and raise your hips so your body is in an upside down V position. Relax your head and neck and draw your inner thighs toward the back of the room. Spreading your shoulder blades apart will stretch your upper back even more, and reaching your hips up and back will help to open your lower back. Breathe for five to seven breaths.

Recipe - Shrimp Pasta with Tomato and Spinach

Last week I was looking for something light, but filling to make for me and the Ms. for Sunday dinner. I usually make pasta on Sundays as a sort of indulgence at the end of a long week. A big batch of pasta typically makes delicious leftovers and pairs well with a glass of wine. 

Wine is good

Wine is good

When stumbled across this recipe from Eating Well 101, I knew I was in for a treat! This Shrimp Pasta is flavorful and delicious. It's hearty and filling but not heavy like sauce-laden pasta can often be. 

Okay, enough preamble, on to the good stuff:

Serves 4-5

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, 
  • 8 oz (220g) medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or more, to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Basel
  • 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 6 oz fresh spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 (440g) oz penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons high quality olive oil, optional 

Directions:

1. Heat a skillet at medium-low and add olive oil. Add shrimp, red pepper, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook until shrimp is cooked through and tender.

2. In the same skillet, add chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh basil leaves, fresh spinach, and chopped garlic. Cook on medium heat about 3- 5 minutes until spinach wilts just a little and tomatoes release some of their juice. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning, if needed. Cover with a lid and keep off heat. 

3. Cook pasta according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain pasta and add to the skillet with the tomatoes and spinach. Reheat on low heat, mix everything well, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

4. Once pasta and veggies are off heat, add grilled shrimp back and drizzle with good quality olive oil just before serving, for an extra taste! 

5. Enjoy!

 

Recharge With A Coffee Nap

Many folks have felt the struggle of trying to make it to the finish line during the work day. Or perhaps you've needed to take a break to recharge before your evening plans. Whenever that lull hits, you can harness the power of caffeine and sleep to get a boost of energy. 

Plenty of us can attest to the benefits of coffee throughout the day to keep us focused and alert. But did you know that if you combine that caffeine kick with a quick power nap, you can be even more invigorated? This might seem like a contradiction, but if you put them together and master the timing, you can unlock a super boost.

The science says that a caffeine boost typically takes 20(ish) minutes after consumption to take effect. Power naps, which are short bouts of sleep at strategic times, have long been known to help your memory, cognitive skills, creativity, and energy level. When you put these two together they are the perfect team.

It's the old Reese's conundrum:

How to do it:

In order to take a coffee nap, simply drink your cup of coffee (or any other caffeinated beverage of choice) and then immediately take a short nap. When you wake up, you will feel incredibly refreshed and alert.

Some tips to make this technique most effective:

  • Don't overdo it on caffeine - a normal cup of coffee will do it.
  • Make sure your nap is a short 20 - 30 minute quickie
  • You may have to try it once or twice before you perfect how to do it
  • Try to wind down as you drinking the coffee

I've done this dozens of times and I can't recommend it enough. Give it try and unlock the power of coffee naps!!!

This little one gets it.

This little one gets it.

Cinnamon Roll Muffins Transformed

We love us some sweets in NOLA because...king cake! Well, we may not be able to find our favorite royal treat year round, but cinnamon rolls come in at a strong second place. This all sounds great, but those calories bring us back down to reality quickly! The packaged version of cinnamon rolls may save time and be easier, but has many ingredients in it that hike up the sugar intake more than we should ingest in one day.

Why not combine it with a muffin for easy transport in case you want to take these on the go! Let's talk whole grains and yogurt. These two ingredients are responsible for this breakfast transformation. Beat part, it only takes 30 minutes. Got y'all's attention now right!

Cinnamon Roll Muffins...transformed!

Nutritional Facts

178 Calories per serving

225 calories per serving
3g fiber per serving
15g carbs per serving

INGEDIENTS

Filling & Swirl Topping
2 ripe bananas
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp coconut sugar
2 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)


Batter
2 cups oat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup coconut sugar
½ ripe banana (mashed)
1 cup almond milk
⅓ cup applesauce


Icing
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp greek yogurt
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp stevia blended (powdered sugar)
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp almond milk

GET TO PREPPIN'

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and coat muffin pan with coconut oil.


2. Filling: (in small bowl) mash 1 banana well with a fork. Add 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil. Stir everything together.


Topping: Puree 1 banana, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp sugar, and the other 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil in a blender until it's smooth. Place everything in a small zip-top bag and seal. 


Icing: combine all ingredients in a small bowl using a hand mixer. Place in another small zip-lock bag and place in the fridge.


Batter: Place coconut flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk away until blended. 

In a separate bowl, mash the half banana. Add almond milk and applesauce and whisk. Place wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix gently until blended. Spoon roughly 2 Tbsp of batter into each muffin cup. Make a small imprint in each muffin with a spoon and add 1 tsp cinnamon filling. Top muffins with remaining batter.


3. Decorate: Cut off the tip of one bottom corner of the zip lock bag containing the topping. Pipe a swirl of topping onto each muffin.

muffin 3.jpg


Bake for 20 minutes until top is mostly firm and golden. TRICK: poke a toothpick in a muffin. If it comes out clean it's done. Let cool for 10 minutes then remove muffins from pan. Remove zip lock bag of icing and cut the tip of one bottom corner off the bag. Pipe yogurt icing over muffins and thank me later!


If you have leftovers (haha) place them in the refrigerator. 

Treat Ya' Self! :)

Summer Road Trip Playlist

Summer is the best time for a road trip with family and friends. Here’s some hits that you may hear in your favorite Footprints weekly classes and events!

  1. Bad and Bougie - Migos
  2. New Man - Ed Sheeran
  3. That’s What I Like - Bruno Mars
  4. Finish Line - Chance the Rapper
  5. Formation - Beyoncé
  6. Made in the USA - Demi Lovato
  7. What Do You Mean? - Justin Bieber
  8. Foolish - Ashanti
  9. What’s Love - Ashanti
  10. Confessions - Usher
  11. Fake Love - Drake
  12. All I Ask - Adele
  13. Your Man Ain’t Me - Chris Brown
  14. New Flame - Chris Brown
  15. Chill Bill - Rob Stone
  16. Congratulations - Post Malone
  17. Survivor - Destiny’s Child
  18. Bounce Back - Big Sean
  19. No Role Models - J. Cole
  20. The Way - Kehlani

These tunes will have you jammin' on the road. Let the gif party commence!

Treat Ya' Self to some positive vibes!