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Low Back Safety: 

Safety Tips for the Winter Season

For those of us in the Northeast U.S. and anywhere with heavy snowfall, navigating through the "Dog Days" of Winter is tough enough without adding a low back strain or injury to the mix.

Prevention: The best way to avoid injury is to avoid the shoveling if you can :-)

If you have to shovel, Here are some simple reminders and ideas to help you stay safe:

1) Buy or borrow a snow-blower

2) Hire someone to blow the snow and/or shovel.

3) Please use an "ergonomic" shovel -- with an extra bend in the handle to help with the lifting.  

Body Mechanics -- When we bend forward, with our head out in front of shoulders and hips, we put extra strain on our neck & shoulder muscles, and in turn the cervical vertebrae.

The longer you stay in this position, the more strain you are adding and the more pain you will end up in. If you are normally sitting at a computer or over a steering wheel during the day, the effect will also be one of over-stretching the muscles and ligaments that are meant to keep the cervical spine in place.

Add to that the motion of shoveling and the weight of the snow in the shovel and you can easily create some BIG KNOTS in your neck and shoulders!

And remember: 

  • Pushing snow forward (or any weight) is always a preferable motion to pulling it.
  • Make sure to keep your elbows slightly bent as you push so that your muscles are working and you're not grinding down your cartilage in the joints.
  • A slight bend in the knees will also go a long way in protecting those joints too.
  • When you are out there with shovel or snow-blower, also stay mindful of your twisting and turning with the spine -- remember to take a deep inhale before turning your mid-body, this will allow the discs some room to expand and you can avoid herniation or nerve impingement.

Before you Shovel, PLEASE:

1) Do some yoga stretches down on the floor for low back, hips and obliques.

2) Shovel in small amounts -- take lots of breaks.

3) Shovel with a partner -- spouse, adult child, neighbor, friend -- many hands make for lighter work.

4) Keep your cell phone in your pocket in case of emergency, ESPECIALLY if you end up having to shovel alone.

5) Everyone knows to keep their knees bent, but stay mindful so that you don't forget!

6) Keep your knees slightly bent even as you CARRY snow in your shovel - do your best to stay upright and keep elbows in to your sides.

7) Whenever possible, keep the shovel on the ground and PUSH the snow aside -- it's the safest way to go.

8) Switch the shovel to your other hand/arm every 10 to 15 minutes -- giving each side an even workout.

9) Use deep, deliberate breaths in and out to stay fully present in the moment, tuning into your body and recognizing your physical limitations.

10) Allow yourself to STOP when you feel fatigued instead of pushing through -- that's when injuries are most likely to happen.

11) Do some yoga stretches when you come back inside -- get down on your back -- knees into chest, half-frog on your belly, you can also swing your legs over a chair or sofa and stay there for 5 minutes.  This will loosen up the low back and hip muscles.

12) If you have a heating pad or a neck/shoulder wrap, use them!!  You will sleep a lot better and release lots of tension BEFORE there is any muscle spasm, etc.

13) Have some medicinal hot chocolate (low sugar) or herbal tea when you come back inside :-)

**If you already HAVE a low back, hip or knee problem, you really have no business going out and removing the snow. It's worth it to spend some money to have someone else do the work and avoid hurting yourself!

Lastly, take a break from the gym workouts if you've been shoveling snow; that's plenty of cardio!! BUT DON'T SKIP YOGA!! Yoga is different -- even if you are sore, the stretching will be really good for your neck and whole spine!! You will be very happy you came when you are relaxing on your back in savasana :-)

Take care and be safe out there.  

         Raven Sadhaka Seltzer

         M.A., E-RYT 500, Reiki Master

         Integrative Yoga Therapy and Wellness

         Author: Back to Balance: Heal Your Spine, Heal Your Life


Yoga Therapy Sessions for Body, Mind & Spirit


Private yoga therapy sessions are ideal for anyone with specific orthopedic and/or medical issues, physical disabilities and limitations, or who is recovering from surgery or treatments -- like chemo or radiation -- and might need extra support with modifications.


We specialize in spinal healing and recovery; pain relief and management associated with the more common conditions of the neck and low back. We have also worked with clients suffering from PTSD and IBS and digestive disorders.


What is yoga therapy? It is the therapeutic use or application of yoga -- kind of like prescribing or suggesting specific poses, movements and breathing or meditation techniques for various physical, mental or emotional conditions. It is highly personalized and custom-fit to each client and their needs, and it's quite different from taking a weekly yoga class.


Here's a recent article from Huffington Post on Yoga Therapy:





Back to Balance Sessions & Clinics


Private sessions are available for the Back to Balance program based on the book by Raven Sadhaka Seltzer. The in-person sessions are with Raven herself and she will lead you through specific techniques, movements and breaths designed to heal your spine.


Again, this is an opportunity for one-on-one therapeutic support and guidance with your healing and recovery process. "Back to Balance" focuses not only on healing your spine, but your whole self, mind-body-spirit.


Raven teaches group introductory workshops/clinics at various locations in New England and the U.S. throughout the year. See the Back to Balance page for more info.



Meditation Instruction


In April 2014, Raven will be hosting Dr. Paul Muller-Ortega at The Center at Westwoods. Paul is a world-renowned, master meditation teacher and scholar of Hindu and Sanskrit. He will be offering an evening of Satsang Sadhana and formal Initiation into the elegant and profound practice of Neelakantha Meditation.


See Events & Workshops page for more info and registration.



Ayurvedic Consultations


The philosophy of Ayurveda emphasizes the deep connection we have to our environment -- the planet, the elements, the seasons -- and each other.  The practice of Ayurveda (dinacharya) helps to adjust our diet, eating habits, lifestyle and movements to create more inner balance and peace, thereby living in closer harmony with nature and healing ourselves from the inside out.


An Ayurvedic consultation is useful for anyone wanting to make significant lifestyle and nourishment changes over time, with a great deal of support. Ayurveda and Yoga are considered "sister sciences" and are extremely beneficial when used in combination with one another.


Ideally, your first session would be an in-person meeting with a consultant at our space in Westwood, MA or we can also work with you by phone teleconference (recorded for your convenience) or Skype/Facetime, if you do not live in the area and/or cannot travel.


Occasionally, we offer Ayurveda workshops around the seasonal transition times.



Private Yoga Classes


Private yoga sessions are recommended for anyone, at any level, from the absolute beginner to the advanced practitioner. If you are looking for guidance, maximum personal attention, and support with alignment, or if you want to develop any aspect of your yoga practice, contact us to book a private session today.



Group Yoga Classes (Public)


Group classes are for anyone who wants a gentle workout and to feel good overall. They are a great supplement to private yoga therapy sessions.


We focus on coordinating breath with movement and keeping the joints safe. There are many modifications available as well as props and chairs of you need them. 


Gentle/Moderate Kripalu classes are offered in West Roxbury and Restorative Yoga classes in Westwood.


All public group classes are 1 hour and 15 minutes in length. Fees vary by location.

Please see the Group Yoga Classes page for more information.



Wheelchair & Walker Yoga Classes (On-site)


We offer weekly therapeutic classes at long-term nursing homes, assisted living and rehab facilities, working with residents at all function levels. These classes are suitable for and can be tailored to those who are memory-impaired, have congestive heart failure, have suffered a stroke or are living with Parkinson's.



Corporate Yoga Classes (On-site)


Gentle/Moderate Kripalu style classes can be brought to your place of work if there is a quiet, open space available. Our teachers will bring in relaxing music and a player, as well as yoga straps. It is recommended for each person to have their own mat, a block and a Mexican blanket. 


All Corporate Group Classes are 1 hour in length and incorporate all of the aspects of a regular class -- meditation, pranayam, warm-ups, poses and flows, and a final relaxation.





(With thanks to Wikipedia)


Reiki is a form of therapy that uses simple hands-on, no-touch, and/or visualization techniques, with the goal of improving the flow of life energy in a person. Reiki (pronounced ray-key) means "universal life energy" in Japanese, and Reiki practitioners are trained to detect and alleviate problems of energy flow on the physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Reiki touch therapy is used in much the same way to achieve similar effects that traditional massage therapy is used—to relieve stress and pain, and to improve the symptoms of various health conditions.


Practitioners have reported success in helping patients with acute and chronic illnesses, from asthma and arthritis to trauma and recovery from surgery. Reiki is a gentle and safe technique, and has been used successfully in hospitals. It has been found to be very calming and reassuring for those suffering from severe or fatal conditions. Reiki can been used by doctors, nurses, psychologists and other health professionals to bring touch and deeper caring into their healing practices.


Reiki sessions are offered in person, on a private basis at the Westwood, MA location. Sessions are 60 minutes long. Reiki treatments are sometimes incorporated into private Ayurvedic and/or yoga sessions as needed and/or requested.

Check out our YouTube video!! "Low Back Pain Rescue"

Pass on the wisdom and information -- forward this link to friends and family and please leave feedback and comments. We are in the process of completing more videos for posting, so stay tuned. Remember to say you "like" this video if that is indeed true :-)



Get Your "Yoga Dish" here!


Yoga in its purest form is a philosophy and way of life.  Yoga brings us back inside, back to our center and helps nourish and balance body, mind and spirit. The practice of yoga and pranayam cultivates a feeling of overall peace and well being. Why not start your day out with a some yoga wisdom?


Sign-up for my free "Yoga Dish" and each month around the new or full moon, I will email you a daily offering for contemplation, designed to deepen your awareness of your Higher Self and finding the Divine in everything and everyone around you.


You can join or drop at any time. There is no obligation and I do not share my email lists with any other businesses, nor do I send "spam" messages, though I would love to have you pass these on to friends and family if you feel so inclined.


Enter your email address below, select the "Yoga Dish" list and start receiving your healthy helping of inspiration every month!


Love and Blessings,

Raven Sadhaka Seltzer, MA, E-RYT-500


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