Restorative Yoga for Cervical Spondylitis

Cervical Spondylitis is one of the most common lifestyle diseases of our times. Also known as neck arthritis, this chronic ailment causes severe pain and stiffness. While there’s no cure to it, regular exercise and lifestyle changes can make a lot of difference. We speak with Natasha Mahindra, a certified yoga therapist and founder of Anam Cara Yoga Retreats, about the condition and everyday yoga poses that can help ease the pain.

What is cervical spine and what is Cervical Spondylitis?

The cervical spine is a very delicate part of the body, a structure that comprises of bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It holds the spinal cord that sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body, while also remarkably strong and flexible, allowing movement in all directions. The cervical spine can be very vulnerable and due to lack of strength, bad posture and life style habits the cervical spine is at risk for developing a number of painful conditions. Cervical Spondylitis used to be an age related condition that affects the joints and discs in your cervical spine, which is in your neck. It develops from wear and tear of cartilage and bones, but due to bad lifestyle habits it’s being detected at a younger age.

What are the lifestyle causes for Cervical Spondylitis?

  1. Bad Posture.
  2. Bad workout regime where we push our body without realising how we harm it.
  3. Over use of the mobile phone.
  4. The way we sleep and the pillow we use.
  5. Stress.
  6. Over working leading to fatigue.
  7. Not drinking enough water and replacing it with soft drinks.

Some of the things that cause Cervical Spondylitis are

  1. Overgrowth of bones where the body tries to grow extra bone to make the spine stronger but in turn ends up pressing on delicate area of the spine, such as the spinal cord and nerves.
  2. Your spinal bones have discs between them, which are thick, pad-like cushions that absorb the shock of lifting, twisting, and other activities. The gel-like material inside these discs can dry out over time. This causes your bones (spinal vertebrae) to rub together more, which can be painful.
  3. Spinal discs can develop cracks which allow leakage of the internal cushioning material. This material can press on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in symptoms such as arm numbness and pain that radiates down the arm.
  4. If you’ve had an injury to your neck, such as during a fall, bad exercise regime or car accident.

What are the symptoms of Cervical Spondylitis?

Pain around the shoulder blades, along the arm and in the fingers; the pain might increase when standing, sitting, sneezing, coughing, tilting your neck backward. Another common symptom is muscle weakness which makes it hard to lift the arms or grasp objects firmly.

Other common signs include:

  1. A stiff neck that becomes worse.
  2. Headaches that mostly occur in the back of the head.
  3. Tingling or numbness that mainly affects shoulders and arms, although it can also occur in the legs.

Symptoms that occur less frequently often include loss of balance and loss of bladder or bowel control. These symptoms warrant immediate medical attention.

What are the lifestyle changes one should make to avoid CS?

  1. Pay attention to the correct position of head, shoulder and back when indulging in any form of exercise. Notice where your head is placed when you sit , walk and use a computer, TV or mobile phone
  2. Don’t sleep with a high pillow and excessive fatigue.
  3. Swimming is advisable as the head is backwards and without any burden in the water when swimming.
  4. Once the symptoms of Cervical Spondylitis mentioned above appear, it is advised to approach doctor, physiotherapist and yoga therapist as soon as possible, and execute the relevant examination to obtain the best curative effect.
  5. Drink more water
  6. Use methods to de-stres like sound healing , yoga and yoga nidra
  7. Find time for yourself
  8. Don’t just follow excercise and food trends but see what your body truly needs.

Yoga postures for Cervical Spindylitis.

Spider – Lie on your belly and extend your arms, bend the elbows and come up on your finger tips. Inhale to raise the heart up and exhale to lower towards the floor. This dynamic exercise is very good to release neck and shoulder muscles and best done to warm up before any form of exercise. It is not recommended during chronic pain.

Restorative Neck Release – Lie onto your spine and make goal post arms, extending arms over the head. Inhale to lift both arms up and exhale to release toward the floor. Make sure the shoulders remain connected to the floor, only moving the elbows to finger tips. This is a restorative pose and can be used during chronic pain to help relieve the pain.

Kali Mudra – The throat region is where the visdhudhi or better known as the throat chakra is located. It is the centre of purification and place from where we speak our truth. It is where we have the opportunity to take a negative aspect of our lives and turn it into something positive. The Kali Mudra also helps direct breath into the throat, also balancing our endocrine system. Join hand together and intertwine the arms. Make sure the right thumb is over the left and the left little finger under the right. Extend the index finger, joining them together, pointing towards the space between the collar bones. Rest your back against the wall and focus your breath at the throat, closing your eyes.

Natasha Mahindra is a certified yoga therapist and founder of Anam Cara Yoga Retreats – a yoga, travel and adventure company. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook to get updates about her retreats and workshops.

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