Airplane Comfort Made Easy

Airline seats can be quite uncomfortable and the the lumbar support is designed for an average body.  Since our bodies are all different, long trips can leave us with lower back discomfort.

Making your seat more comfortable can go a long way in helping avoid unnecessary pain.

Airlines used to offer blankets which made great low back props.  I would recommend bringing a small towel or soft garden pad on the plane just to make sure you have something to use.

Try this:

  • Fold the blanket so the edge is on the seat, so it supports and lifts your sacrum.  Your sacrum is the flat bone that is located right above where your tailbone begins.  It is the lowest part of your spine right above your bottom.
  • When your sacrum lengthens upward it elongates the entire spine and takes a lot of stress off of your lower back.

Let me know in the comments below how this worked, or if you have any questions. 

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Lumbar Spine: 8 Interesting Facts

When clients come to me with back pain, it is usually in the lumbar area of their spine.  The lumbar area is in the lowest part of the spine, just above your sacrum and is most subject to injury.

Here are some interesting facts about lumbar pressure in various positions:

  1. Sitting hunched over a desk- 200 lbs.
  2. Sitting leaning back on chair with low back rounded- 150 lbs.
  3. Sitting upright with feet elevated-  100 lbs.
  4. Standing with leaning forward posture-  200 lbs.
  5. Standing in proper alignment:–  100 lbs.
  6. Laying flat on back-  55 lbs.
  7. Laying flat on back with knees elevated-  25lbs.

There are easy ways to take pressure off of the lumbar spine and with the differences in compression and pressure, you can see how modifications to standing, sitting and lying down can make a big difference.

The first step is to become mindful and aware of how you are using your body.  Let me know in the comments below what you noticed about your posture throughout your day. 

*Rehabilitation of the Spine:  A Practitioner’s Manual.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Susan Avoids Back Surgery

Susan’s Challenges

I have experienced low back pain for several years.  Over time, it got progressively worse.  The pain brought me to seek medical attention and I was diagnosed with two ruptured discs and severe degenerative disc disease.  Surgery was recommended.  I was willing to try anything and to avoid surgery.


What Susan Tried

Acupuncture was suggested along with yoga.  I had been practicing yoga for 10 years but had only experienced moderate relief.  I tried several Chiropractors before I began the practice Ellen showed me. 


What Worked

Custom Calm yoga was introduced through series of coincidences.  I began a daily practice along with acupuncture.  I experienced relief within several weeks.  I continue to practice Custom Calm yoga on a daily basis, including bed yoga  and have no pain for over 12 years.

 In addition, my range of motion has been restored to near normalcy.  The healing I have experienced though Custom Calm yoga has been miraculous.  I feel more energized, look younger and am no longer limited in my day-to-day living.  I would recommend Custom Calm practices to anyone interested in improving their quality of life.  It keeps me off the operating table and out of constant pain.  IT WORKS!!


What you can learn from Susan’s Experiences

When we are looking for ways to help ourselves when facing pain, we try many venues.  Even yoga practices are not all the same and Custom Calm practices are specifically customized to target specific tensions in the body.  Susan is committed to avoiding surgery and she practices simple techniques daily.  The physical practices also affect energy level and overall health.  Susan’s daily life has changed dramatically from the practices.

Posted in: This Stuff Works

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Cathy is a Cancer Survivor with Back Pain

Cathy’s Challenges

I am a three time breast cancer survivor. It had been three years since my last cancer diagnoses and I finally felt well enough to do some traveling. Unfortunately, the consequence was chronic back pain.

What Cathy Tried

I had done yoga in the past and never really enjoyed it, finding it difficult and boring.

What Worked for Cathy

When I do Custom Calm yoga poses I use props, so the poses were fairly easy to do. The teacher pays close attention to everyone, giving individual attention to anyone who needs help. The teacher is exceptional and I find the time flies by.

It is a very different experience from all of the yoga that I had tried before. I felt very relaxed after the first class and after just three or four classes, my back pain dissipated. I also experienced more energy and an improved state of well-being. I started incorporating the poses in a daily home practice.

I attended some of the meditation classes and began a breathing practice too. I found that whenever I felt stressed, doing the breathing routines, in conjunction with the yoga poses, really helped relax me. The most important lesson I have learned is how imperative it is to stay in the moment, not focusing on the past or looking into the future.

What you can learn from Cathy’s Experience

Not all yoga is the same. With proper support and attention, pain can be alleviated. It is easy to learn practices to incorporate into your daily living. The benefits that the practices had on Cathy went way beyond her back pain. Every part of her daily life improved.


*Last name has been left off for anonymity.

Posted in: This Stuff Works

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5 Steps to Avoid Low Back Pain

How do you protect your low back from pain and discomfort?  Even if you have never had back problems, the back is the most susceptible and vulnerable part of your body to strain and pain.

There are two important areas in your body that you need to be aware of:

Sacrum: The heavy, flat triangular shaped bone at the base of your spine

Sitting Bones: As part of your pelvis, these are the bones you feel when you sit. If you feel the bottom of your butt, they are just under your skin.

Learning how to bend is important.  To help you understand, think of your body as having angles and your joints as hinges.

Here are 5 simple steps:

  1. Bend your knees
  2. Hinge at your hips
  3. Lengthen your sitting bones out behind you
  4. Keep your low back to be flat, and that includes your sacrum.
  5. If you are lifting something heavy, draw in your abdominals (they are an inch below your navel) toward your spine.

Give this technique a try.  You can practice in the mirror and see if when you bend this way, your low back stays flat.  Let me know how it feels and it you found this helpful in the comments below.  If you have questions, please contact me.

Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Goldie’s Chronic Back Pain Alleviated

Goldie  is a Senior with back pain.

Goldie’s Challenges

While I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, I also suffered from sciatica and back pain. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and instability in my back. Surgery was suggested. I was determined not to have surgery only as a last resort.

I was often incapacitated, unable to sit or walk for long distances. I was constantly in a great deal of pain and my life seemed to stop. This affected me both physically and emotionally.

What Goldie Tried

I constantly carried an ice pack with me. I tried acupuncture and massage. I also had spinal epidurals.

What Worked

After months and months of suffering, I started taking Custom Calm Yoga with Ellen and eventually I found that the gentle yoga, stretching and supported poses were very beneficial to my back.

I still have spinal stenosis but I can function well enough to go about daily living with a minimal amount of pain.  I know I can’t overdo.

I have learned many poses that I can do on my own, but I enjoy the classes where I have benefit of total mind-body connection and a sense of camaraderie with others. I have come a long way and I hope to stay that way and avoid surgery.  Thank you, Ellen, for all you have taught me.

What you can learn from Goldie’s Experiences

When we are looking for ways to help ourselves when facing pain, we try may avenues.  Custom Calm techniques are most appealing because they are non-evasive, empowering and cost effective.  Goldie experienced a reduction in pain and an increase in her strength as she worked with Custom Calm, which made a huge difference in her day to day living.

*Last name has been left off for anonymity

Posted in: This Stuff Works

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