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. ⬇

How to use the BackMitra Pillow

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 stiff 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.

 

Attention!
Don’t use the pillow during exercises in which you lift up your pelvis!

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. ⬇

7 Step Plan to Improve your Google Ranking

7 Step Plan to Improve your Google Ranking

This is for everyone who owns a website and is wondering why after all this time it still isn’t showing up anywhere near the first page in Google.

Here are 7 things you must do in order to start climbing the ladder.

1. Does Google even know your website exists?
If your website doesn’t show up in any Google search, not even far down the results it is possible Google hasn’t indexed your site yet.
• One of the easiest ways to let Google know your website exists is to open a Google+ account, add a ‘Page’ and then add your website to it.

2. Identify your keywords and keyword phrases
Make a list of at least 10 words and/or short phrases (of maximum 4 words each) for which you want people to find your website.

3. Make sure these keywords and phrases appear in your website’s content
– Use your most important keywords or keyword phrases in the title of each of your website’s pages (H1 tag*).
– Next important keywords go high in the text, or in paragraph titles (H2 tag*).
– Repeat important keywords or keyword phrases near the end of the page.
Note! Avoid repeating keyword phrases more than 3 times in the content of a page. Search engines like Google will punish you for this and your website ranking will go down.
* More information on the importance of the use of H1 and H2 tags.

4. Use your important keywords and phrases in the title> and description> tags of the HTML code of your page
The most important go in the title, the secondary in the description*.
• Make sure to create an easy to read and appealing text. This is what people will see in the Google search results. Even if you make it to the first page, nobody will click on a result that doesn’t make sense!
* More information on these (meta) tags.

5. Make sure to put your keywords in the ALT and TITLE attributes of the image> tag
Do this for every image on the website; photos, logo, graphics, any file that ends with .jpg, .jpeg, .gif or .png.
Content Management Systems like WordPress and Joomla allow you to set these attributes when you upload an image to your library.
Note! Be careful which text you put in the ALT and TITLE attributes. If a visitor hovers over the image with the mouse this text pops up; in some browsers this will be the alt text, for others the title text.

6. Get other websites to link to yours
– Ask them to use My Important Keyword Phrase as link text instead of www.mywebsite.com
– Try to get links from other websites in your branch. This is your link neighborhood and Google looks at who is living there.
Note! Don’t be tempted to use services that offer 100 links to your website for
€ 3,- or something similar. This will damage your link reputation.

7. Use a SEO plug-in
If you use a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla you can install a plug-in to help you with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the science that helps you getting closer and closer to the first page in Google results.
• For WordPress there is a great plug-in called Yoast SEO.

If you don’t know how and where to implement these recommendations don’t wait and go find someone to help you. Improving your Google ranking takes time and you will only climb the ladder after you have taken the first step…

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

david

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 Become a More Successful Yoga Teacher

Yes, but how do you become a more successful teacher?

In this time where you can find a yoga studio on virtually every corner it is becoming a challenge to fill classes, especially for starting teachers.
What can you do? Here’s a short story…

I started restorative alignment in Mexico with Brigitte Longueville in 2009. Although I found it extremely challenging, I felt amazing after every intensive. Brigitte persuaded me to enroll in the Teachers Training in 2010, which I thoroughly enjoyed, although it was the most difficult course I have done in a long time. I had no intention of actually teaching, I was just interested in learning how my own body worked and responded to the BackMitra.
become successful yoga teacherI started taking part in an Anusara yoga class in my local town in the UK. The teacher asked if I would cover for her whilst she was away and I introduced the BackMitra, with amazing feedback, including a 70 year old woman who was in so much pain with her shoulders that she couldn’t hold a phone to her ear. After just attending 2 sessions, she informed me that she was pain free, which I was thrilled about. This lead to other classes being set up for me by people who had heard about it, with many more success stories from different age groups of both sexes. Many of the students have done other forms of yoga in the past but have been completely converted to using the BackMitra, and have even described it as being like magic!

I have based my classes on different muscle groups and always start using the BackMitra on both the upper and lower back for about 45 minutes, then do gentle exercises based on the part of the body I have decided to concentrate on, followed by a yoga sequence with attention to alignment in each pose.

The classes have started small, maybe 3 in a class, and have increased to sometimes 14. I have had great feedback from many people, including one man with back issues, who said he thought it was better than any chiropractor he had visited and has not missed a class since starting and has brought friends.
I have always had positive feedback from my classes, and many students have purchased a BackMitra to work on at home.

Sue Martineau
Yoga Teacher, UK

Brigitte Longueville teaching restorative BackMitra workshop

10th National Yoga Conference 2013

A short video on Brigitte Longueville presenting restorative yoga with the BackMitra at the 10th National Yoga Conference 2013 in Mexico City.

YogaRestaurativo9

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.

Exercise 1

BackMitra - Arms Shoulders Neck - Exercise 1Interlock your thumbs and exercise a light pull that you will maintain thru out 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.

Exercise 2

BackMitra - Pelvis Lift - Exercise 2Arms lightly 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.

9th National Yoga Conference 2012

A short video on Brigitte Longueville presenting the BackMitra at the 9th National Yoga Conference 2012 in Mexico City.

9th Yoga Conference – Restorative BackMitra Session with Brigitte Longueville.

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 Carmina Gorraez who introduced the BackMitra into our 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!

Carmina Gorraez
Carmina studied psychology, neurodevelopment and rehabilitation and has several certifications in Pilates, Kid-Pilates, aqua-aerobics, swimming, dynamic canvases and Feldenkrais.

carmina gorraez backmitra teacher / therapeut
Carmina Gorraez

She is a Yoga Alliance RYT-200 certified teacher in Hatha Yoga and restorative alignment. She practiced yoga for more than 10 years and about 5 years ago she began teaching private yoga classes and restorative therapies. She has worked with injured people, especially people with cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries. Currently she is teaching therapeutic yoga classes at Arati Yoga in Querétaro, Mexico, and is working with fibromyalgia patients, improving their chronic pain episodes and sleep quality.

She has been studying with professors like Dr. Sheedara, Charly Pivert, David Swenson, Richard Freeman, and mainly with Brigitte Longueville, who besides being her teacher is her friend.