Review of yoga manual General Lower Back with Neck, Shoulders and Hip Focus by Christine Pitt
As anyone who has ever suffered back pain knows, the recognised advice today is not to lie on the floor, moaning, but to keep moving. But how? Well the answer to this may be found in one of a mini series of yoga manuals written by yoga therapist and spine specialist, Christine Pitts. General Lower Back with Neck, Shoulders and Hip Focus is a step by step guide to a series of yoga postures that both help relieve back pain and maintain flexibility. Christine, who believes in the Chinese Proverb, “you’re as young as your spine is flexible” demonstrates each posture in the guide, which makes it easy to read and understand.
Now I have to declare an interest – I have practised yoga for more than 20 years, it’s been a great safety valve whilst working in stressful newsrooms, and I qualified as a teacher earlier this year. Therefore I feel confident in reviewing the manual and recommending the sequences devised by Christine. But perhaps more importantly, the book has also been endorsed by doctors who specialise in backs.
It is worth stating that this book is for everyone, not just yoga bunnies, as it gives detailed written instructions and diagrams for “simple, gentle and effective postures that promote pain relief and unrestricted movement.”
The introduction to the book endorses the “Use it or Lose it” sentiment that we are constantly hearing, and explains how the back works, and the make up of the spinal column. It discusses the benefit of movement and how in particular yoga can help maintain flexibility and strength – much as you would expect to read in such a manual. Presuming you already believe in this adage, which is why you bought the book, you can move straight to the series of postures. However it is worth reading about the importance of engaging one’s core to protect the lower back, to hold some of the restful poses for up to 20 breaths, and browsing through the case studies made me thankful I don’t have such health issues.
The postures are broken down into mini sequences, some standing, some lying down, and one showing simple seated postures which I used with my 99 year old great uncle. They include twists, side bends, forward folds and knee hugs, all done in a way that protects the back and in a sequence that increases movement and suppleness. The photographs of Christine in each pose helps ensure you are doing it correctly.
The exercises are simple and don’t claim to replace a regular practice for an experienced yogi, but if you have any back issues and want or need to move slowly to regain flexibility, then this is a good manual to keep handy.
It’s available on Amazon for £4.99 or an e-book on Kindle.
Christine Pitt is accredited by the British Wheel of Yoga, Yoga Alliance Professionals, and the British Council for Yoga Therapy. She teaches yoga in Surrey and online – see www.yogamango.com