How to keep your spine healthy


The spine is designed to perform the following 4 movements: flexion, extension, axial rotation and side-bending. If you want to keep your back happy, try to perform these 4 movements daily. There’s no need to be a specialist in anatomy to enjoy a healthy and flexible spine.

Here are some recommendations to help you move intelligently:

  • When you flex your spine avoid compressing your low back. If you’re not very flexible, bend your knees slightly and try to keep your waist long and shoulders down. 
  • In spinal extensions, focus on your upper thoracic region. The challenge of back-bends is opening the chest and shoulders instead of hyperextending the low back. If you breathe deep into your lungs, your breath will help lift the ribcage and open the chest. 
  • When performing twists we want to rotate the vertebrae on their central axis. We can aid this action by keeping our hips level and squared to the front. This way we can focus the twist in the thoracic region of the spine. 
  • Side-bending is an easy movement, which I find particularly delightful. It involves stretching out first one side of the trunk and then the other. Take care not to rotate your shoulder girdle or your hips. Ground though your feet an legs to get the full benefit of this action. 

In my last online anatomy course, my students and I used drawings to design some easy sequences that move the spine in all 4 directions. I’ve included 2 images below, hoping these sequences inspire your yoga practice or stretching routine.

Sequence designed by Jaume Leguía Gaspar

Sequence designed by Jaume Leguía Gaspar


Sequence designed by Claudia Menenses Meza

Sequence designed by Claudia Menenses Meza

‘The map is not the territory’, my thoughts on anatomy and yoga

Sometimes, the challenge of teaching anatomy to yoga teachers is conveying the idea that, despite sharing the same anatomical blueprint, each person’s body is unique. The anatomical map offers us detailed portrayal of the human structure, however it is still only an approximate representation of the actual body we inhabit. Each person is a  perfect specimen of human anatomy as can be attested just by observing the people out on the street: some people are taller, others shorter, some have inherited a robust constitution while others seem more delicate.

If we understand that the study of anatomy encompasses all of these individual differences between human beings, then we can use our anatomical atlas to study each individual student with discernment and curiosity. To do this we must patiently compare the ‘map’ to the ‘territory’ so as to become familiar with the actual bodies of the people we work with. This is how I apply my understanding of anatomy in the context of yoga.

One way to put the theory into practice is to locate certain bony reference points that will help us evaluate our students’ yoga poses.

For example, the sacrum is a reference point that comes in handy.  This bone is shaped like an upside down triangle. It articulates with the iliac bones to the sides and with the coccyx below. The pelvis is formed by the union of sacrum, iliac bones and coccyx.  If we can locate the sacrum, then we can evaluate the position of the pelvis in relation to the spine and legs.

Following the same example, in the forward flexion called pashimottanasana, we want to position the top the sacrum perpendicular or in front of the coccyx. This will establish hip flexion and will simultaneously challenge the elasticity of the hamstring muscles, which if shortened drag the pelvis backwards.

If, on the other hand, the top edge of the sacrum is positioned behind the coccyx, the pelvis will be in a less-than-favorable position for the lumbar spine. We want to position the pelvis in such a way that it helps to establish hip flexion and stretch out the hamstrings.

bad pashimottanasana

With this example I hope to illustrate how we can apply anatomy to yoga in a way that is helpful to our students. In the current case example, we could suggest our student bend his knees so as to work his shortened hamstrings. In this way we are adapting the yoga practice to the student instead of imposing on him a posture that his body may not be ready for.

The importance of the pelvic floor: an interview with Natalia Tenedor


Natalia and I met a few years ago in a yoga teacher training (Anusara) with Susana Garcia Blanco in Barcelona. If you’ve been in a yoga teacher training you know how you form a special bond with your classmates. That’s why it was very exciting to run into Natalia recently, at a yoga workshop, of course! During our breaks, Natalia told me all about the low pressure fitness training she’s been studying and teaching and about how it helps with a variety of pelvic floor problems. (What better topic to be discussed over lunch?) Of course, I loved listening to all this new and exciting information and I think you’ll find it quite interesting as well. 

Natalia, tell us about how you went from yoga to low pressure fitness training?

I had been practicing yoga for a while and I decided to take a teacher training course, I loved what yoga had to offer. After my second child, and thanks to my yoga practice, I noticed the consequences of both pregnancies and child-births which still hadn’t fully recovered from. I did some research and learned that some of my symptoms either were pathological or could become pathological. That’s when I discovered the low pressure fitness technique and all the benefits it promised. I decided to train as a facilitator to understand in depth what the technique consisted in and understand what it was based on, I couldn’t just take a class. With only a few practice sessions I started to feel incredible benefits: all my back pain was gone, I stopped having urinary incontinece problems, my abdominal diastasis decreased (a separation of the rectus abdominus muscles) and, with the help of a specialized PT, I stopped passing air from my vagina, which was a horrible thing to experience in a yoga class. 

Which types of problems affect the people attending your classes?

Most of the cases I encounter have to do with urinary incontinence. You’d think it’s something that only affects elderly people, whereas the high percentage of young people suffering from this problem is quite high. It typically affects women who have given birth, high intensity athletes, runners, etc. It is also a problem that affects men, although this is less talked about. The practice of low pressure exercises helps these people reduce or eliminate the problem completely in just over a month and a half.

Another group of people that come to my classes are those with postural problems, like back pain, low mobility, etc.. they usually start to feel better after the fist session. Sometimes it surprises me to se how quickly people improve.  

Others want to simply look better, (you can reduce your waistline by up to 10 centimeters!) but the best thing is that afterwards they start to notice other benefits brought on by the practice.

Finally, the last group are women right after childbirth. I do not know of a more effective technique for postpartum recovery. With just a little bit of practice these women regain their posture and their figure, they also reposition their internal organs in a way that is completely non-invasive.

By what so many pelvic floor dysfunctions?

We could say that pelvic floor disfunction is the price we pay for standing in an upright position. The pelvic floor is a very complex anatomical and functional unit. It was “designed” as a wall when were were still moving about on all fours. When we began to stand it became a floor, and then is when we started to have problems with its function. The weight we bare with our pelvic floor (in pregnancy, when overweight, living a sedentary life, during hormonal changes, when loading excessive weight, practicing certain sports, just to mention a few examples) weakens our abdominal and pelvic floor musculature. This is how we begin to create a disfunction in how we manage the increase of pressure on our abdominal musculature and pelvic floor in everyday life.



What is the normal role, or the physiological function of the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor has three basic functions: the containment of the organs in the abdomen, anal and urinary continence and it plays a  very important role in sexuality. It is just a matter of time before a disfunction or irregular function in one of these three areas will lead to a disfunction in any of the others. This is why it is important to take steps towards recovery, whether it is by focusing on prevention or visiting a specialist as soon as we notice any problem or discomfort.

How can we care for our pelvic floor in our every day life?

Avoid sports which create a repetitive force of impact on our pelvic floor, like jumping or running, avoid prolonged coughing, and avoid traditional abdominal exercises. It is also important to adequately recover from childbirth, and above all prepare for pregnancy! We are accustomed to preparing for childbirth, but what about pregnancy? It is an exceptional state that lasts nine months and that undoubtedly produces many physiological changes… It is imperative to do preventive work, low pressure exercise is a tool that anyone can have access to.  Once you’ve learned the basic technique you just need to practice a couple of times a week for about 20 minutes. That’s not too hard is it?

About Natalia Tenedor: Her passion for languages and travel lead her to a degree in translation and interpretation. Later, after becoming a mother and falling deeply in love with the human body, she trained as a Yoga instructor and as a low pressure fitness educator. The combination of her passions has led her to join the training team of Low Pressure Fitness on a national and international level. Natalia currently teaches low pressure fitness classes in her hometown and trains teachers abroad. 

If you want to contact Natalia can do so through Facebook or by emailing her at

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