The human spine is an amazing thing.

Until I started learning how to teach Yoga I hadn’t really thought about the spine much. I guess that’s because I’ve been lucky and haven’t suffered from too many back problems.

I guess when I was younger I took a lot of things for granted. Including my health. Are all young people like that?

There was this one time, many years ago, when I flew over the head of a galloping horse I was riding and landed flat on my back. I managed to walk away from that one with no broken bones or permanent damage to my spine, but I’m not sure how. I could have been thrown into a tree or anything. I was riding through Bunya forest at the time. It’s a housing estate now.

After that fall I ached for weeks.

I think about that fall often. Now that I have a better understanding of the spine I find it even more incredible that I didn’t break anything. Someone was looking after me 🙂

The human spine is made up of 33 vertebra, and as mentioned in the post ‘Is Yoga Good for Back Pain?’, the vertebra closer to the hips are bigger than those closer to the neck. This gives us more flexibility in the upper part of the body.

A normal spine has natural curves. These natural curves have been classified into regions by scientists to make it easier to identify the different areas of the spine.

The following diagram from Wikipedea illustrates the curves of the spine and the name given to each region.

Vertebral column
The names of the spinal curves

The Cervical curve has 7 vertebra.

The Thoracic curve has 12 vertebra.

The Lumbar curve has 5 vertebra.

The Sacral curve as 5 vertebra, but they are fused together as one in an adult spine.

The Coccyx has 4 vertebra, but they too are fused together and form the tailbone.

When practicing Yoga we attempt to look after the spine by attempting to maintain the natural curves and alignment. Unfortunately, not everyone has a spine with a natural curve, which can make it difficult for them, and sometimes dangerous, to do certain Yoga asanas (postures).

Look out for my next post when I will talk about postural misalignment and some of the Yoga asanas that may help.

Until then, stay safe 🙂

Namaste.

How does the spine work?

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