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My Journey With Pain + What’s Helping Heal.

          I’m experiencing back pain like I’ve never experienced before.

          Low back pain, neck and shoulder aches, and pain, hip pain, knee pain… I’ve had them all but they don’t compare to this time.

          It’s a stop-what-you’re-doing-and-listen-to-me kind of pain.

          So I’ve been listening and tuning in.

          Mind you–this is what I do. I help my clients get out of pain, dive deeper to explore what’s at the root of the pain, what’s not working and then create a life, body & movement that IS in alignment.

Hello, Universe… I hear you: time to re-align.

IMG_2432          And I want to be more open & share my journey with you–first, so I can be more transparent on here, and second because I think we can all learn from my experience.         

          As I continue to heal myself back to health, I’ve realized a few things.

          Our body needs love and attention.

          Our body gives us signs to let us know where it needs extra love & attention.

          Our body gives us signs that start small then get bigger & louder the more that we don’t listen.

          We all know this, right? 

          Well, the tricky part is in actually listening.

Listening and being open to the signs your body tells you is key. If you stop listening or you dull the sounds of your bodies voice, it continues to grow and expand until….

          BAM. You’re stuck on the couch with back pain.

          Our body holds wisdom but we only get access when we listen.

          I stopped listening. 

          I muted the sound of my voice and allowed the sound of my ego to take over.

          I let my ego push my body and didn’t give it proper rest and nutrition.

          So here I am, re-declaring this love for my body and all it does for me.

          I’m here. I’m connected. I’m tuned in. I’m listening.

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Here’s what it’s saying for us all to enjoy: 

STOP IGNORING YOUR BODY.

          If you’re not taking care of your body on some level (exercise, nourishment, rest, etc) it’s time to lean in and listen. When you get a sign from your body, listen to it.

          Instead of listening to the gentle signs my body was giving me (achiness in my left shoulder, slight discomfort in my low back, increased feelings of overwhelm), I pushed them aside and tried to continue forward.

GIVE YOUR BODY WHAT IT NEEDS.

          Once you start listening to your body and get better at responding, this part becomes easier.

          If I had taken the time two weeks ago to drop everything and listen to my body, I probably wouldn’t be here–writing to you in bed with a heating pad on my back. Stop putting your body last on your to-do list.

TAKE ACTION NOW.

          Stop putting your health last on your list and put it first. Start with one or two things you want to address & make it happen. Whether it’s daily stretching, using a foam roller or getting support, do it now.

          Because here’s the hard truth:

          If you’re not taking care of your body then don’t expect it to do the same for you.

          The more you show up for yourself + your health, the stronger you’ll be.

          Your body holds years of wisdom within it if you allow it to be free.

          So take a moment to pause right now and ask yourself these simple questions:

  1. Where have I been neglecting my body lately?
  2. What have been the signs that my body needs more love than I’m giving it?
  3. What’s one step I can take RIGHT NOW to start listening and leaning in more?

          And go do the thing. 

          I’m here for you and can’t wait to share how my story continues to evolve and inform me….

          If you’re feeling the call to lean in and take care of your body in a whole new way, I invite you to apply for Yoga Therapy work with me.

          The work I do with clients is simple yet powerful and transformative.

          We strip away the layers of what’s not working and what’s in the way–usually this includes area’s of pain, discomfort, overwhelm and stress, and we create new patterns that are in alignment and feel good.

          This process isn’t easy but it will forever change your life.

          And I’m here for you every step of the way.

          So whether it’s 1:1 Yoga Therapy work in Uncover Your Freedom, or you’re a Dental Hygienist who’s looking for support inside Foundation to Freedom, listen to the call.

          If the time is now, apply to work with me here and let’s connect.

          I’m proud of you for being here – thank you for sharing this journey with me.

xo Caitlin

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The Magic in Learning to Slow Down & Stop Forcing

          As I was crawling across the floor, I wished for the moment to be over and for all of these eyes to be looking anywhere else but at me. I felt restricted. My chest felt tight. I started to breathe faster and more shallow. Anxiety was creeping in but I had no way out.

          Last October, I decided to go on to a weekend-long transformational retreat with three months of transformational coaching support thereafter. It was the scariest moment of my life as I handed over my credit card information–the biggest investment I’ve ever made to date, aside from buying my car and getting student loans for college (although that didn’t really feel real money then).

Identifying the Fraud in MeIMG_2724

          Even though all of the fear, doubts, and worry flooded through my brain–I knew I had to do this. I spent the previous 6 months feeling like a complete fraud–in my life and my business. 

  • I created daily routines, downloaded all the podcasts, and tried to implement all of the strategies for getting through these personal blocks, but I couldn’t find my way out.
  • I tried to get more clients but I ended up showing up frustrated, disconnected and looking desperate.
  • I felt like I’d put so much effort into my business and had no results to show for it.

          I knew I was ready to do more, be something more, and ultimately to…. FEEL more me. 

          I didn’t know what any of that meant, but I had the nudge inside and I chose to listen to it. 

          Have you ever been there? Wanting to send the message, book the trip, and feeling a little nudge, but an even bigger overarching fear that ultimately wins.

          That fear ends up crippling us, not only emotionally, but physically, we don’t know how to move forward… we freeze… and we stay the same.

          So often we think that everything is supposed to be easy; we think that if we feel worries, doubt or fear, that we shouldn’t bother doing the thing. We start to shy away from anything that feels uncomfortable–and so we stay the same. 

          The truth is, even though the thought of this financial and energetic investment made me want to run away and vomit in the corner by myself (lol), there was something inside of me that knew I had to go. I realized that what I had been doing for so long wasn’t working. I realized that in order to create the change that I so desired, I had to put on my big girl pants and step up.

          I knew the answer to my current pain was on the other side of deep discomfort and destruction. Sometimes getting to the other side means we have to walk a line of fire. Sometimes we just have to show up, do the work and stop trying to find the stable, comfortable bridge to bring us there.

Taking Inspired Action

          This is one of the most important practices I teach my clients–taking action regardless of fear and taking action based on what’s showing up in your intuition… because if we always listened to fear, we wouldn’t do anything out of our comfort zone, and we, therefore, wouldn’t change or evolve into even more epic humans. Connecting to your intuition takes time and practice, but it’s listening to that small, quiet and simple voice inside that nudges you towards your dreams and out of your comfort zone–it’s not the one that tells you do be less, dreamless or do less.

          One of the key practice I’ve learned to do when my doubting ego shows up to encourage me to play small starts with stopping everything that I’m doing at that moment. Standing or sitting, I pause and close my eyes. I feel my sit bones or my feet against the earth. I feel grounded and rooted at this moment. I explore and deepen my breath until I feel more relaxed. I take mental note of how I”m feeling in this moment. At that moment – it was scared and nervous; I was nervous that the investment wouldn’t be worth it but more than that, I was nervous that I wouldn’t show up the way I wanted to and therefore I wouldn’t get the results. I let that story play through once and sometimes twice until I decide that’s not my story. I take a moment to visualize what I want to feel, what I want to be doing, and where I want to be. I breathe that in for several breaths until I know that as truth in my body; I breathe it in until I embody this knowing and possibility inside of me. 

          This simple embodiment practice teaches us to be, to breathe, to dream and to trust–the ingredients needed to move through discomfort into greater freedom and intuition.

The ant inside my head (Automatic Negative Thoughts)

          I spent the last six months riddled with anxiety–feeling the person I had been up until this point and the person I wanted to be and knew I was inside. The gap between the two was what filled me with anxiety and fear–the gap felt like a deep, dark pit into the abyss. The gap was filled with words like, “Is this even possible?” and “Maybe you shouldn’t do it, it might not be worth it.”

          When I first read the information about the retreat on Instagram from a coach I’d been following and resonating with for a long time, I felt something happen inside of me, but I ignored it. But when I saw it again, I felt something inside that I couldn’t ignore. This time I listened to the pit happening inside my stomach. I was being called forward–ready or not. When I reached out to connect about the retreat, all signs (except my inner fear gremlins) pointed towards HECK YES, so I got on the call and signed up for the program.

          Luckily I put down a financial deposit on the call because almost immediately after, I wanted to hide, curl in a ball, run away, take it back and stay in my small bubble. What did I do? Was this the biggest mistake I’ve ever made? I almost didn’t want to tell my partner about it but something inside of me knew it was right. 

          I had nothing else to do but trust, so I tried–over and over again. 

          I started to get nervous before the retreat. I was excited too but mostly nervous; I was nervous about what we’d do there, who exactly will be there, how it will turn out… and even more so, I knew I was about to get stretched more than I ever have.

          Just a few hours before I arrived at the house, we all got an email asking us to stretch even *further* outside of our comfort zone than I imagined–before our arrival.

          My mind started racing.

          When I walked into the house, I saw. I met the three ladies in the retreat with me, which made me even more nervous. One was a beautiful embodied blonde babe with a huge welcoming smile. The other was a gorgeous, small and powerful being with a gentle smile.  “Who was I to be here? ” The home was even more beautiful and bougie house than I imagined–my child-self got giddy as I peered into the backyard with an ocean-view, jacuzzi, and epic pool and a vista of the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego coastline. The girls I met were amazing, but it was clear we were all unsure of what was about to go down…

Staying In The Body

          Over and over, I shifted my awareness back into my body, back into my breath. I start by taking deep breaths that start to fill my lungs and I feel the expansion meet the resistance and tension in my chest. I breathe until I am reminded again that I am human and that it will be okay–it always will. I breathe until I surrender into trust again.

          Since I knew the next day would be tough and our retreat leaders would arrive ready to dive in, I set my alarm early that morning and went on a run with one of the ladies, and now a dear friend of mine. After the run, I jumped and chilled in the jacuzzi, showered, meditated, and got grounded. I knew I had to stick with all of the practices that connect me even if none of them felt fluid–even if fear kept flooding in.

Here’s how you can stay in your body

          One of the most powerful ways that we can start to break down our walls of limitation, doubt, fear, and control, lies within our own body, in our breath. A simple practice to release a pattern, story or thought and to allow space for something new, is a three-part breath. This breathing practice allows us to become aware of the breath which brings our awareness away from our head. 

          To try this practice, take a big breath in and a big breath out. On your next inhale, fill the stomach with ⅓ of your breath and pause. Take in another ⅓ of breath into the ribs and pause. Take your last ⅓ of breath into your chest and pause. Long, slow exhale out the mouth. Try this 5 more times and start to feel your worries, doubts, and limiting stories release. Keep going until you feel them fade away.

The Lion Day

          The next morning our retreat leaders showed up. It was an intense morning of different practices to get us out of our head and explore what was hiding beneath the layers who we say we are. I was loving all the games, until this next one.

          Since there were three of us in the retreat, we took turns on who went first for each game we played. The next game was my turn to go first, so I got excited and stood up right away. I had no idea how much this would shake me…

          Essentially the name of the game was to act like a lion. Sure, sounds easy, I know. Except, you had to act like a lion so much that everyone in the room had to believe you were a lion and raise their hands when they felt convinced… “Sure, do-able,” I thought.

          Until I got onto the floor. I instantly felt… all over my body. I started crawling around on all fours and roaring like I’ve seen lion’s do on documentaries and shows. I’m sure only 60 seconds of time passed as I moved back and forth along the hardwood flooring in the upstairs room, but it felt like a lifetime.

          No one raised their hands, so I kept going. I felt myself going back into my head, so annoyed that no one would raise their hands. “I was acting like a lion. WTF more did they want?”

          I kept going, adding more pieces as they came to me.

Still nothing, silence. No one raised their hand or told me to stop.

          I felt my inner critic turn up until it was all I heard. High blast. Over and over like a broken record.

Dealing With The Inner Critic

          “Can I just be done with this?” “I’m not good at stuff like this, I just don’t want to do it anymore.” “I’m so annoyed.” Yadda yadda yadda.

          I kept going but this next round with more frustration, and an even worse lion impression.

          Fear and rage boiled through my blood but I didn’t let myself fully feel it. I wanted to be seen, but not fully. As I continued to move, I became aware. This was a common pattern in my life: I want to be seen, but not fully. Why? Where else has this been showing up in my life? 

          Work. Relationships. Social Media. Everywhere…

          Old stories, moments and memories started to fill my vision on fast forward. I started to see all of the ways I played small in fear of not being enough. They flew through my mind like a videotape. One after the other. Playing small. Not showing up. Being scared.

          I got so frustrated that I sat back on my heels and put my hands over my face.

          I was trying, forcing and controlling so much, why wasn’t I successful?

          It felt like every fear, worry and doubt that I’ve ever had started to appear and surface now. The tension and restriction in my chest started to build. I wanted to throw up. I felt a pit deep in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away and hide. This was not fun.

          The only thing I could do were the first two–so I screamed. And screamed again–this time louder. Once I had nothing left to scream, tears streamed down my face.

Slaying Your Own Inner Critic

          Ever feel like you can’t turn down the noise of your own inner critic? The loud ego inside that wants the attention, and wants to put you down? I do, too. Here’s what helped me learn to turn them down and turn up the sound of my internal guide.

          Learning to listen for your inner critic comes first; this happens by bringing awareness your awareness to your thoughts. So the next time you start to feel overwhelmed by the noise inside your head, bring your awareness to what the voice is saying. When you hear the song on repeat, slow it down.

          When you slow things down and become aware of your thoughts as they flow through, you can start to become curious on where they’re coming from. When you hear his voice, pause, bring a hand to your heart and ask yourself: where is this coming from? If it’s coming from your head, it’s your ego. If it’s coming from your heart, it’s not your ego. 

          Start to be more curious then start to shift the thought patterns. Repeat things like, “I am strong and capable of doing whatever I want.” Say it, write it, think it until it feels true.

Embodying The Strength

          It was clear that I had two options at that moment: to keep playing small or to fucking show up and be the powerful woman that I am. To show up at this moment as a lion was only a small piece to a bigger puzzle: it’s time to show up fully.

          “Stop forcing.” A quiet voice whispered in my head.

          “Be.”

          “Be a lion.”

          I took a deep breath. Something clicked.

          Reluctantly, I got back onto all fours and started moving like my version of a lion would move. I envisioned a bad-ass, sassy lion moving around in the wild and started to embody that – I kept that as my vision and begin moving. I started to embody the fierceness of a lion. The strength and power of a lion. The essence of a lion. 

          I finally got it and I knew it. I wasn’t forcing anything, I was just being. I felt amazing. I looked up at the ladies to see if their hands were raised although I already knew they were. 

          Waves of relief, gratitude, and joy took over my body. I wanted to cry again–this time in the best way.  Have I been forcing everything my entire life?

          I was so grateful it was over as I excitedly got back onto the couch. I stayed present as the other girls did their version of a lion, but after that, we had a break. 

Surrender + Write it Out

          I slid away from the group and went into my room. I parked my ass on the fluffy, white queen-sized bed. Tears streamed down my face and I felt my hands naturally gravitate to my heart. I let myself cry and felt the emotions come up. I stayed present as they all came and went and until finally, there were no more tears left.

          I sat with my hands on my heart until the weight lifted from my body. 

          I stretched and moved my body in all different ways. I started to move more freely. I began to stand and felt stronger in my body. I moved until I felt more integrated, more connected.

What To Do After Big Expansive Moments That Makes All The Difference

          After connecting to the body, explore journaling. After moments like these, I like to recap what I’ve been worried about or focusing on. I sit with them and try to explore whether or not there are any belief systems that need to be shifted, and if not, I explore what it would feel like to experience a new story, a truth. I write my new truth down and breathe it in until I own it. In this case, I write, “I no longer force; I release the need to control and allow things to happen.”

The Gift Of Trying Something New – Community

          I opened the door and reconnected with my new, close friend Lyndsey. We locked eyes, this time I was lighter, stronger and more me than before.

          I felt the breeze lightly move over my skin. The room now felt bigger and more expansive now. Even though I just did the most challenging thing of my life, I was filled with joy.

          I was reminded of how capable I am, how powerful I am. I was reminded that I can do anything I put my mind to–in my own, unique way. When we stop forcing things and starting being in our bodies, as we were designed, we feel amazing.

          These are just a few of the embodiment practices that have brought me away from living in my fears and doubts. These practices are simple yet they’ve helped me chase my dreams as opposed to playing small. 

          If you’re ready to step into a new vibration, if you’re tired of just going to classes or having a really transformative session with me and not experiencing something like that with anyone else, this retreat is for you…

          You will experience a lightness and release in stress from the moment you walk through the doors. You’ll learn different practices that will allow you to slow down, feel calmer and bring you back to yourself. This slowing down will allow you to access deeper healing. You’ll build community with amazing women in the group and experience a sense of connection and support on your journey.

          It will be transformative and extremely powerful; are you ready to listen to the call and join?

          Enjoy twice daily yoga therapy and meditation practices, sound healing and somatic experiences, circles for connection and shares, daily cooked healthy meals, and more. 

Retreat Details:

  • 2 days + 2 nights
  • stay + delicious, catered meals included
  • twice daily therapeutic yoga + meditation practices to slow down. reconnect, nourish and expand
  • individualized & focused support for alignment, posture, wellbeing + lifestyle 
  • a sweet gift to part with!

If you’re feeling the nudge and want to explore for yourself, click here to apply for the retreat. This isn’t an experience you’ll regret going, but it’s definitely one you’re regret NOT going to.

Big hug,

Caitlin

PS: If you’re feeling the pull but going back and forth, take a moment to pause and drop in. What’s your heart’s deepest desire in this moment? If it’s this, I encourage you to apply here. Let’s connect!

How to Reduce Stress and Live a Balanced Life //

          Before we dive into the juiciness of this post… let’s get really real.

          Like, really real–let’s talk about Stress, baby!

          Stress, according to Medline Plus , stress is “a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.”

          Stress and what we consider to be stressful means something different to everyone. For some people, stress comes with business at work, deadlines, and family emergencies. For others, stress shows up when they are cut off in traffic, hit the 3rd red light in a row, or spilling your morning coffee on the ground.

          The thing is…when you train your body to be in a constant state of stress, it doesn’t know the difference between a huge family emergency or a lion chasing you in the woods vs. spilling your coffee or being cut off in traffic.

          When we talk about stress, it’s important to discuss our nervous system. When our body becomes stressed, our nervous system shifts into a sympathetic response, also known as fight or flight response–it results in a number of responses in the body including increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased hormone release, the dilation of your blood vessels, suppressed immune system, and much more.

          The concern isn’t what happens when the body enters the stress response until the body is always in this state, also known as chronic stress.

          If we’re constantly in a state of stress–stressed over the spilled coffee, traffic, traffic lights, something your co-worker said, your partner said, something your child or fur baby did… your body lives in a stressed state.

          Your body doesn’t know anything but stress.

          Your body cannot function fully or optimally in this way.

          If this feels like you, here’s five tips you gotta implement in order to bring more balance into your life, your body and your nervous system:

          🌈Create a daily practice of slowing down: this could start as a 1-minute breathing or meditation practice done 3x/day

          🌈Create time and space where you can deeply relax every week: set it into your schedule and create time to de-stress. My favorite ways to do this is: guided meditation/relaxation, yoga nidra, yoga therapy, listening to music, dancing to your favorite songs, or laughing your face off.

          🌈Bring in activities that bring your body into a relaxed state: start to bring in more practices that decrease your stress levels. This could include spending more time with certain friends, decreasing your workload, increasing activities that bring your body into relaxation (yoga, meditation, breathing, tai chi, swimming, walking, hiking, etc.)

          🌈Make a pact with yourself: make a pact with yourself that anytime you feel stressed, you will take 5 conscious, slow breaths. Bringing a slow & relaxed breath helps to bring your body into a relaxed state. This shifts the response from stress to relaxed in no time! If this is hard at first, set reminders in your phone until it becomes a habit.

          I used to live my life in a fully stressed state. My body didn’t know what was happening and slowly neither did my mind. Once I started to implement these daily practices, I soon realized how good it felt to not be in a state of #chronicstress.

          Once I started living in a more balanced state by implementing these practices above, I became sick less, had more energy, became more focused, calm and clear, and in general, had a healthier life.

          What’s one thing you want to implement right now to reduce your stress levels? Share in the comments below or send me a message here.

Here for you,

xo Caitlin

PS: Do you need support or mentorship in learning how to reduce your stress levels and feel more balanced in your life? Fill out this application to work with me 1X1, no matter where you are in the world, and I’ll reach out. Through 1X1 yoga therapy, we can bring you into a state of balance.

Five Things You Need to Consider To Overcome Hip Pain

          Hip pain can be really challenging for a lot of people and also really scary.

          Have you ever went to get up from sitting down for a while and feel like your hip has given out?

          🙋🏽‍♀️I have… and it’s not fun.

          And while there are MANY things that could be going on within your hip for this to happen, and I’m not a doctor so I cannot diagnosis anything, these pieces I’m about to discuss can be used as evaluation tools.

          First I want to start by saying that posture is key when it comes to addressing pain in the body, and the joints in particular.

          Here are some tips that are important to note & explore if you’re experiencing pain in your hips:

          ‼️Use both of your legs evenly by building strength in your legs–whether you’re walking, sitting, standing or exercising at all, this is important.

          ‼️Keep your hips even–I like to think about our hips or pelvis like a bowl. Keep your “bowl” neutral, without letting the bowl dump out forwards or backward.

          ‼️Stretching all around the hips to reduce tension: tightness in the muscles around the hips are really common especially in our day in age with increased sitting. Start to stretch the muscles on the front of your hips (ex: hip flexors), the back of the legs and outer hips.

          ‼️Symmetry in your body–make sure that when you’re sitting, standing or moving your body, it is as symmetrical as you can. Notice if you lean to one side while sitting, driving in the car or waiting in line at the grocery store. Start to work both sides of the both together to support your hips and entire body.

          ‼️Improve your core–most of the time when our hips are out of alignment it means that our core isn’t engaged. The truth is, your core supports your spine and your hips. By strengthening your core, you can help to bring your hips into alignment.

          It’s important to try these practices and become more curious about what’s going on in your hip area, instead of annoyed, ignoring it or pushing it down or away.

          The key to unlocking your pain is becoming a scientist: when does it hurt, what does it feel like, what makes it better, what makes it worse, and so on.

          Often, we get to the root of the issue just by becoming more curious, or getting support from a like-minded professional.

          Either way, providing a professional with the sort of information that we talked about above make it a heck-of-a-lot easier for them to figure out or diagnose.

          The most important thing to know: address it before it gets worse.

          It may be as easy as adjusting the way you sit, stand or walk.

          Make sense?

          If you’re looking for some practices to explore the hip, take a look at my Low Back Exercises blog post I shared recently–a few of the practices will be really helpful at reducing discomfort and/or becoming more clear on what’s going on.

I’m here for you, just holler!
xo Caitlin

PS: Want to know more about working with me 1X1? I’ve recently opened up my 1X1 practice to support more of you – whether you’re in San Diego and we work together in person or you’re across the globe, my 1X1 program may be the perfect way for you to reconnect with your body & build awareness, improve your posture & alignment and decrease pain & discomfort. To learn more, apply here.

low back pain

5 Stretches for Low Back Pain: A Guide for Every Adult

low back pain

          Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor, according to HealthLine, and nearly 80% of adults will experience low back pain throughout their lives, according to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

          Understanding your low back pain is vital when it comes to understanding how to relieve it, help it and heal it.

          Typically, in my experience, most people experience low back pain due to four main things:

    • Injury
    • Alignment & Posture
    • Overactivity or Overuse
    • Underactivity

The thing that most people don’t think about is that poor posture can happen easily and at any time.

Poor posture often occurs when you are:

    • Standing
    • Sitting
    • Walking
    • Working
    • Exercising

          Because there are so many reasons why we have back pain, there are many things that can help alleviate symptoms depending on the severity of the discomfort, pain or injury.

low back pain

          Check out my recent article where I go into detail about our posture and the 5 main ways to improve posture here.

          Here are 5 go-to stretches to help reduce low back pain or discomfort.

Stretch Your Low Back

          This pose, Knee to Chest Pose, is an easy one and one of my favorites to do in the morning while still in bed. Do this stretch by laying on your back. From here, bend your knees and hug the knees into your chest. You can grab behind your thighs or on top of your knees.

          Take an inhalation as you slowly move the knees away from your chest. Take an exhalation as you slowly hug the knees back towards your chest.

          The magic piece in this stretch is to engage the core as you exhale and hug the knees into the chest. When we engage the core here, we’re able to help stretch the muscles of the low back even more, in addition to ‘turning on the core’ which is important in our daily movement.

          Try this stretch 8-10 times, moving slowly and mindfully.

2. Engage Your Core

low back pain

          Bound Angle pose, also known as Butterfly Pose, is different than many people think and not as easy as you think, mostly because it challenges you to slow down your breath and your movement in order to get the greatest result.

          Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Then bring the bottoms of your feet together and your knees out wide. If your thighs or hips need support, bring your fists under your upper thighs to prevent your legs from extending all the out.

          If your low back feels tight and compressed then hug the belly strongly towards your spine and imagine sending your tailbone to your heels – this will help lengthen your low back.

          To begin, inhale fully and relax something. As you exhale, press the bottoms of your feet together and very slowly begin to move the knees so they are ¼ of the way together. Pause at ¼ and take a long, slow inhale. On your next exhale, hug the bottoms of the feet together and bring the knees to ½ of the way together. Continue this until the legs are all the way together and your feet end up on the floor.

          Notice that the slower you go, the more benefit you’ll get.

          Try this one 3-5x for greatest results. Feel your inner thighs working. Feel your core working to support you.

3. Stretch Your Hammies

          This is one of my favorites because nearly everyone needs to stretch the hamstrings. The hamstrings, and in general, the back side of the legs, get really tight the more we sit which happens a lot in our culture.

          The thing is, when our hamstrings get super tight from sitting or overactivity, it can pull on the musculature on the low back which can either cause or worsen low back pain. Whaaaat? Yep.

          Start lying on your back. Hug your right knee into your chest and interlace your hands behind the thigh. Inhale as you extend your leg up to the ceiling. Spread your toes and hug all 5 toes back towards your knee. Pause. Breathe a few rounds. Then slowly guide the leg out to the right side so that you get a stretch around your groin and inner thigh. Stay for a few breaths. Then bring your leg back to center and slightly over the the left, across the midline. This will get into the outer leg, hip–commonly known as the IT band.

          Stay in each position for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side. Notice the results in your feet, legs, hips and your low back.

          There is so much magic in this pose so start with this simple variation. I go a lot more in-depth inside my 3-month online yoga therapy program for Dental Hygienists, called Foundation to Freedom. Click the link if you want to learn more about the program – the next round starts June 3rd!

4. Stretch Your Mid Back 

          This next one isn’t a fancy stretch just like the other ones, but it can feel like magic! Our QL, or Quadratus Lumborum, is a deep abdominal muscle on the back next to the spine. According to this HealthLine article, our QL is responsible for a lot of low back pain cases, mainly because it is a prime mover in sitting, standing and walking.

          To do this one, start by sitting down in a chair or on the ground. Raise your right arm overhead with an inhale. With your exhale, lean slightly forward and to the left. We are aiming to get a side, or lateral, stretch as well as some stretch in the back. You can adjust the positioning of your torso and your raised arm to explore a deeper stretch. Stay for 5-10 breaths then explore the other side.

5. Move Your Spine

low back pain

          One of the most signatures poses in yoga is one that helps stretch and strengthen our spine is Cat Cow. According to the Iowa Chiropractic Clinic, we need movement in our bodies in order to keep our spine healthy.

          Cat Cow does just that for our bodies: it provides fluid and nutrients to get to the vertebrae of the spine by inviting movement into the body.

          Start this pose by coming onto all fours, also known as Table Top. Spread your fingers wide and relax your shoulders from your ears. Either curl your toes under or bring the tops of your feet to the floor. As you inhale, press your hands and feet into the ground. As you exhale, stay in table top but strongly hug your belly towards the spine and the inner thighs together.

          On your next inhale, arch your back and lift your chest for Cow Pose. As you exhale, round your back dropping your head and tailbone done for Cat Pose.

          For increased benefit, as you inhale and arch your back, drop your shoulders from your ears and press your hands into the ground. As you exhale, hug the navel towards the spine and inner thighs together as you round the back.

          Continue 5-10 rounds or until you feel complete. There are many ways to enhance this posture but even in it’s most basic form, it is extremely beneficial for the low back.

Encompassing It All

          As you can see, all of these stretches help to do one or even two things for the low back, making them extremely powerful in fighting low back pain. They either provide–

    • Expansion, space, release, open, soften, or\
    • Engage, stabilize, strengthen

          Both of these qualities are vital for decreasing pain or discomfort in the body.

          If you want these written out with pictures to show, grab this Chairside Guide that I created for Dental Hygienists.

          For some of us, low back pain can be optional if we have the tools to manage our body and our overall health, and we utilize them.

5 Ways to Have Good Posture: A Guide for Dental Hygienists

          Having good posture isn’t something that comes naturally in our day in age with the increase of technology and sitting in general, especially as hygienists. In fact, most hygienists struggle to have good posture even AFTER going to ergonomics classes and implementing what they’ve recommended.

          However, having poor posture and compromising our body positioning for every patient of every hour is the reason so many hygienists are experiencing pain, discomfort, fatigue, early retirement, and burnout.

          In fact, Mayo Clinic says that sitting overall is dangerous. It increases the risk of many other things in the body including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, cardiovascular disease, excess body fat, and even death.

          One of the most common things I see in every continuing education class on ergonomics is WHY we need good posture and what good posture looks like. What about how to get this posture that they’re talking about and how to actually maintain this posture?

          I’m going to share five ways to get proper posture and change your life inside the operatory.

          While it’s ideal to create proper posture for ourselves as practitioners for every patient, we know that’s not realistic. There will always be patients who can’t open wide, who can’t go back all of the ways, or who mouth-breathe so heavy you can’t do anything but bend, crunch and peer on in.

          Let’s aim to get a baseline for good posture that we always come back to–every day, every hour, every patient.

          Let’s start with two of the easiest and most common ways to have good posture.

1. Use an Ergonomically-Friendly Practioner Chair

          I’ve used a few ergo chairs that they sell on the market, and while I like them a lot, they are practitioner-based. Meaning, each practitioner will be drawn to a certain style or brand, and even more, the benefit it will give each practitioner will vary depending on their body, alignment and more.

          I believe ergo chairs can add a lot of value and aid in having good posture as they’re typically a constant reminder for you to sit up tall. Even more than that, some of them don’t allow you to slump back to your habitual posture

2. Try Dental Loupes

          Yes, yes and yes! If you’re a dental hygienist and you don’t have dental loupes, I don’t know whether to say “Congratulations” for having good eyes or “What the heck have you been waiting for?” because you’re being stubborn…

          Dental loupes change the game as far as posture goes. They allow you to have perfect posture and see your patients’ gums when set up properly.

          As Today’s RDH shares, it’s important to do your research prior to making the purchase for loupes. The more recent common loupes are through-the-lens (TLL) are typically customized for the clinician, whereas, flip up loupes are not. TLL style loupes force the clinician to look up or down in order to see the patient without magnification, while flip-up loupes are easily moveable.

          Either way, having dental loupes as a dental hygienist will surely allow you to have good posture if you’re willing to do the work!

3. Be Aware of Your Alignment

          One of the most important parts of this discussion thus far is alignment. When our bodies aren’t in alignment (example: leaning to one side, elbow out to the side, constantly slumped backward) it puts uneven wear on the physical body.

          Postural misalignment will cause imbalances throughout their entire path of the muscle, and if not addressed, can also affect other muscles that are attached to the same bone, leading to many imbalanced muscles.

          If you’re not sure if you’re working with proper alignment, definitely don’t miss out on the following two ways.

4. Releasing Tension in Your Body

          Releasing muscular tension is one of the most important ways to achieve and maintain good posture. Sitting, in general, causes the whole front line of the body to shorten, which in itself can cause muscular tension, nevermind adding misalignment and weird positions.

          Releasing tension in the muscles create an opportunity for good posture.

          I dive into ways to release tension in the physical body from the common areas that get tight as hygienists in my Chairside Guide.

5. Create Sustainable Strength

          Most people think about strength in the body as classic 6-pack abs or weightlifting. Strength in the body can be much more subtle and also more stabilizing. Proper strength in the body, specifically the back line of the body and your core, are vital for having good posture.

          A strong back body can support our seated posture even if we’re working ten days a week.

          If you’re interested in learning more and creating proper alignment within your body through building strength/stability, releasing tension, learning proper and sustainable body mechanics for your specific body through one-on-one sessions, I’ve created a program just for you.

          Foundation to Freedom is a 3-month online yoga therapy program for hygienists where you get weekly yoga therapy classes to target hygiene-specific areas of weakness, pain and discomfort, monthly one-on-one sessions for individualized support, weekly meditations and mindfulness practices, support, accountability, and so much more.

          This program is teaching hygienists just like you HOW to build strength, release tension and create proper alignment so that proper posture can be achieved.

          If you’re interested in implementing these tips in a small way to start, check out this free Chairside Guide I created just for you with movements, tips, and tricks for managing pain, posture, and stress.

          As Dental Hygienists, it’s vital for both our bodies, our careers and our overall health that we take the time to learn and implement the many ways that we can get out of pain and find a good posture that works–and keeps us in the operatory and enjoying our careers.