In this installment of the fitness class review series, I tried another specific yoga class to get a more localized workout. Yoga for Backs is a yoga class that aims to provide healing for those with back problems and strengthening exercises for everyone.
This class is held weekly in the Physical Activity Complex, every Monday at 12:05 p.m. — so get in after that morning class or before a bout of afternoon studying. If the class isn’t available to you because you have commitments during this time slot, however, do take note that class times can change — so check back, this isn’t one to miss.
Yoga for Backs has interested me for some time, as I have experienced mild back issues since a sporting injury, which dislocated my rib, in high school. Being a student doesn’t help either — carrying books around and sitting for extended periods certainly hasn’t been doing my spine any favours. So going in, I had high hopes that this class could have the potential to show me what more I could be doing for my back.
Not really knowing what to expect going in, I made sure I had my regular workout attire on just in case lots of movement was required. While that certainly was not a mistake by any means, it wasn’t necessary. The class is very low on movement, and the focus is more on long, extended poses than anything else.
The first prop we used was called a strap, which is a long and flexible piece of foam that participants were asked to fold in half and place underneath their spine as they laid down on the yoga mat. Laying down on the strap felt somewhat uncomfortable and achy, but the instructor informed the class that this is a normal sensation as you are stretching out your spine.
With the strap underneath my spine, the instructor told us to hold our arms straight out and slowly move them back behind our heads before bringing them back. After repeating this a few times with varying speeds and depths of stretch, we moved on to the next exercise.
Where the first exercise focused on the upper back, the next focused on the lower back. Taking pads — which are thin, made of foam and about the same dimensions as a pillow — and rolling them up tightly, we were asked to place this foam roll against our hips and slowly lay back. From this position, we did some stretches that included getting a deeper extension and moving our hips from side to side in order to fully stretch the back.
These two exercises made up the whole class, which lasted a full hour. All of the movements were very relaxed, and the instructor also got the class to focus on being in the moment and just existing, which brought a meditative aspect to the class.
In the hours that passed after the class, my back problems did seem to improve. Eventually, this effect did subside and a milder version of my back pain did return — but seeing that I had to put on some Rub A535 just to walk to the yoga class, I’ll count that as a win.
Perhaps one of the most accessible fitness classes available, Yoga for Backs would be great for pretty much anyone. All of us carry at least a little pain and stress in our backs, and this class makes for a very relaxing way to break up a busy day.
Jack Thompson / Sports & Health Editor
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor