Physiotherapist Guided Yoga and Rehabilitation Exercise Class
At the Physi-Yogis we offer our "Safe and Strong Spine" Physio/ Yoga classes. This is a refer in only class, of maximum 10-12 people offered two times per week (Wednesday 7:30pm, Saturday 10:00am for $10/class). The exercise routine is 1hr:30min in duration. Clients interested in taking the class may be referred directly to the class. In cases where there are any significant injuries, surgeries or movement restrictions that may limit your ability to perform the exercises described below, a physiotherapy assessment may be required prior to attending yoga so that appropriate substitutions or omissions can be made.
Each class begins lying supine (on your back) with simple breath awareness. An internal observation of the sensations of breathing. This is then paired with core muscle recruitment (lower abdominals, scapular stabilizers, and deep neck flexors).
We then proceed into gentle supine leg and back stretching. A transition is made to sitting for a series of stretches and postures and then to four point kneel. We give alternate options or modifications for painful knees.
Downward dog (an inverted posture which requires 180 degree shoulder flexion with ~50% body weight on the hands and the ankles dorsiflexed >90 degrees) is found in many beginner classes. This exercise/ posture can either be extremely therapeutic or injury provoking if done incorrectly and or inappropriately. We build up to this enigmatic posture slowly or avoid it altogether for some clients, giving optional exercises that achieve similar benefits. We then progress into a series of postures leading toward pigeon pose. The prerequisite to this posture is a full lunge with the knee to the floor. Again options are given for those unable to safely go into these positions.
A transition is then made to standing postures and an exercise series involving single leg standing balance, wide and narrow leg standing, as well as gentle squats and side bending. We complete the regime on the floor with cross-legged sitting and a breathing exercise to train and relax the diaphragm. Our final posture is full relaxation in supine lying or corpse pose.
What we have compiled is:
- the safest and most effective spinal strength stability and alignment exercises
- specific exercises for 'the usual suspects' we see in physiotherapy; rotator cuff, IT-band, patellofemoral and plantar fascia/foot pathologies as well as weak point strengthening and mobilization for all spinal areas.
- a process for training the body and developing an awareness of the breath. In all exercises/poses we focus on the breath. Full conscious diaphragmatic breathing, and use of the inhalation to lengthen and stabilize as well as the exhalation to release stress and tension.
- In all poses we set the core/ posture/ anti-gravity muscles before progressing into the pose thereby protecting the spine, discs and nervous system.
In our practice the lower abdominals, the shoulder girdle, and the deep neck muscles; "the core muscles" are cued until it becomes natural and easy to hold the spine in proper alignment. Over time back pain, tightness, weakness and instability give way to a strong, stable and confident spine.
Yoga is the practice of developing one pointed focus. For ninety minutes on your mat that point of focus becomes your body. With the postures and exercises we practice, we are attempting to rejuvenate and re-align your spine. As you progress in this practice you will find you are able to neurologically engage and strengthen your core muscles thereby stabilizing and balancing your body.
With each conscious breath we are waking, cleansing and invigorating your central nervous, circulatory and respiratory systems. With attention and consideration to the body's movements we are exploring and unwinding muscle imbalances and freeing fascial (or connective tissue) body restrictions. We are also flexing, extending, twisting, and bending the body thereby churning and aiding the gastrointestinal system with digestion and elimination.
Beyond the body work we start to notice a sense of calm come to the mind. This is a state of meditation. A quietude and serenity of the body and mind together. A union. A Yoke.
This practice has been designed to be accessible to any beginner and even those recovering from chronic injury . Those with acute pain, recent injury or previous surgery are advised to seek a physiotherapy assessment prior to attending the yoga class. The resident Physiotherapist, Anil Bhambhani safely guides the class giving options and solutions to movement restrictions. This is why it is crucial that the instructor be aware of every injury or condition in the room. The routine progresses from lying on the floor, to sitting upright, to four point kneeling to standing postures progressively building up the spinal awareness and control much like how an infant learns to roll, crawl, stand and then walk. The postures are test patterns for what the human body should be able to do. This asks of the body full available range of motion from every joint, and through repeated practice, over time they become easier and the body transforms. This practice is what your physiotherapist would want you thinking when you're doing yoga.
We have found in treating musculoskeletal injuries over the past 19 years and in studying and practicing yoga over the past 15 years, that the foundation or core muscles are the first areas that need to be strengthened and retrained. It is important for all beginners but particularly those recovering from injury to focus on posture and breath at all times, the full Asana or posture comes with time. One cannot build a strong house with a weak foundation. And one cannot fly before he learns to crawl, walk, and then run.