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Yoga is so much more than a wellness trend. While the ancient practice is often touted as a strengthening workout for those with an affinity for Lululemon gear, it boasts more than just the ability to tone your arms and core. Yoga offers both physical and emotional benefits and no one understands this more than the founder of Thyroid Yoga Fern Olivia and Los Angeles-based instructor Nicolette Ficchi.
Take lower back pain, for example. According to Olivia, discomfort in this area can be related to everything from insecurity to anger. Additionally, daily routines like sitting at a desk all day or being stuck in the car during long commutes can contribute to back problems, Ficchi points out. Because yoga tackles both emotional and physical factors, the practice can be used to alleviate lower back pain.
“Yoga can be very beneficial for the lower back because it will help to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support the back and spine,” Ficchi explains. Not only can doing yoga help to ease lower back pain, but it can also help to prevent injuries in the future, she adds. This is done through a variety of specific poses that work to release tension in the lower back while strengthening muscles that support the spine, like your abs.
Of course, yoga is like any other workout routine in many ways and you shouldn’t jump into a new practice with the hopes of curing pain without first consulting your doctor and taking necessary precautions. Ficchi advises easing into new movements and listening to your body during the process in order to avoid injury. “If something feels ‘off’ in your body, stop doing it and utilize modifications as opposed to just jerking your body into a shape you think it needs to be in,” Ficchi says. You can also use props like blocks, straps, blankets, and bolsters to help you transition into new postures.
If you’re ready to try yoga for lower back pain, start out with this flow designed by Ficchi to target your back and help soothe pain while strengthening important muscles. Here’s how to get into each pose and exactly how it will benefit your back.
Come into a tabletop position on hands and knees with the wrists stacked under the shoulders and the knees stacked under the hips.
Inhale and press your chest forward as your head looks up and spread your sit bones apart.
Make sure to keep the core engaged and to not “dump” into the lower back, which may cause pain.
From cow pose, exhale and press the earth away from you.
Allow the head to come into the chest and round out the spine, coming into a dome shape.
The Benefits: The movement between cat and cow pose is known as spinal flexion. This frees up the spine to release tension in the back, Ficchi explains.
Downward Facing Dog
Begin in a plank position to measure the correct distance for your body.
Pressing down evenly through each finger, lift the hips to this sky.
Keep the heels lifted and leave a slight bend in the knees, especially if your hamstrings are tight.
If the shoulders are tight, turn the hands out.
The Benefits: “When the heels are lifted and knees are bent, this allows for the torso to move towards the thighs, articulating the natural curve of the lower spine,” says Ficchi.
Make sure your feet are hips distance apart.
With bent knees, hinge at the waist and maintain length in the front body.
Allow the head to hang and weight to shift to the fronts of the feet.
The Benefits: “This cooling posture allows for stability in the lower back while stretching the