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The Daily Five

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Hi everyone!

Here are the Daily V exercises reference to Overcome Neck & Back Pain (ONBP). In subsequent posts below, exercises referenced to free YouTube clips!

The Daily V are four spinal movements (flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion) plus a piriformis stretch. The specific exercises mentioned below are just one 'set', meaning if you have other versions or other exercises that move the spine through these four planes, use those!

ONBP references

Daily I spinal flexion
ONBP Ex. 18 Middle and upper back

Daily #2 spinal extension
ONBP Ex. 34 Floor back bend

Daily #3 spinal rotation
ONBP Ex. 3 Lying rotation

Daily #4 spine lateral flexion
ONBP Ex. 36 Standing side bend

Daily #5 piriformis
ONBP Ex. 5 Chair hip and floor hip


And Kit adds a sixth, this one from YouTube:


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MT Nordic wrote:

I'm going to defer that one to Kit, as I'm not sure if he wants that information out there for those who haven't purchased his book.

Don't ever worry about that (but thank you for thinking about this); let's just get the information out there. I am committed to open learning, and whatever you can all do to assist this will be considered a benefit to all, and (personally) a help to me.

I am going to make this thread sticky; I have been asked this question many times, and I am also pleased Miss O made the time to link to both the pages and the YT clips. I will shoot an alternative rotation one soon.

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Hi All, I've made an e-book which I give to my beginner students. I'm a little technologically challenged but I'll try to att. if I can. Kit, what's a sticky thread?

If it works, and passes inspection (words & text) all welcome to use it :-) If it fails inspection... :-(

I find Olivia's kneeling side bend great and very popular with my students that used to do standing version!


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I will be directing the "proofreader from Hell" (Miss O!) to this asap; I like it. As soon as it's proofed, I will edit your post and substitute version 2.

Great work, Jack, and people feel free to spread it around.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi, couple of questions regarding the daily-five from the second edition of S&F.

First is the standing side bend. It is hard to tell from the picture what is meant by maintaining the whole body in contact with the wall during the exercise. I have tried this and find it difficult to maintain while keeping the opposite arm in a good supporting position. The picture seems to imply that her supporting arm's elbow is pointing backwards which wouldn't make sense if her whole body is in contact with the wall?

Second, is the seated hip stretch. My pelvis rolls posteriorly, enough so that I end up in decent lumbar flexion while trying to do the stretch. I do feel the stretch in the glut max but by the end my lumbar area is hurting a bit. I can't imagine it is due to hamstring flexibility (unless what I think is flexibility is mostly spinal flexion :P ), is it just tight hip extensors/external rotators causing this? Additionally I struggle to sit on my sit bones with my legs straight in front of me, however if I bend my knees slightly and pull forward with my heels I end up in the correct pelvic position.

Any thoughts or answers would be greatly appreciated.

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  • 6 months later...

Re. Q.1 : as much of the body as possible in contact with the wall. If referencing a book, please give edition and page number; it helps me to be able to see which picture you mean.


Re. Q. 2: yes, it's hamstring tightness that stops you siting up on top of your bottom bones. And the tighter your piriformis, the more work the extensor muscles have to do to keep the spine straight in the seated hip stretch. Try the same exercise sitting on a chair; it will clarify the restrictions immediately.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi Kit,


I have been practicing and teaching the daily 5. I found the #2, backbend most difficult to teach as most students tend to tighten the lower back and buttocks muscles. I am wondering why you avoided the pelvis connection in this backbend. If one tail bone is down, the backbend will come naturally with the lower ribs gently draw towards the back. Am I missing something here?




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Wai, I think you have you seen me teach this stretch on workshops; I don't think I avoid the "pelvis connection to the backbend" as you claim here, nor in any of my books or videos. I wonder if you can expand on your point; I may have misunderstood what you mean. You wrote:

If one tail bone is down, the backbend will come naturally with the lower ribs gently draw towards the back.


If this works, teach the pose this way, but it does not work for many beginners. I know that in contemporary yoga teaching, it is a standard direction to "tighten the glutes" or to tuck the tail, or to posteriorly tilt the pelvis—and as you have seen, for many beginners this tightens the lumbar spine muscles.
Before I teach the elbow back bend, a beginner's first back bend, I always ask a new audience "whose lower back tighten (or cramps) doing floor back bends?"; usually around half put up their hands. So I teach them how to experience the movement without this cramping. Later, when a student is experienced enough to tighten the glutes and yet keep the lower back relaxed at the same time, and assuming this feels good in the body, they are directed to try that, because that then allows the movement to be moved and experienced higher up the back. This is explained in S&F or ONBP. 
The point of the directions ("to keep the lower back and glutes relaxed") for complete beginners is that when most beginners tighten the glutes, the lower back also tightens (which is what you have found with your students). On the other hand, some students can move into a good Cobra pose immediately; the directions I suggest are not for these students—it is for all the others who can't.
And with some students, this tendency for the lumbar spine muscles to cramp as soon as the spine is extended is so strong, they need to stretch out the lower back muscles first before even attempting the elbow version of the pose. Any bent- or straight-leg forward bend is suitable.
There is no one correct way in this method; there are only experiments for each to try to see what happens; you as the teacher then modify your instructions depending on what actually happens. One of the strengths of this system is this interactive, iterative approach: whatever happens, you need a large enough set of tools in the box to pull out the right one for any particular student. Finally, if there has been a history of back problems for a student, and the habit of tensing the lower back in extension can't be interrupted by stretching the lower back in that teaching session, ask them to sit out the pose: with enough forward, sideways and rotation movements in the body, the extension movement will settle down, in time. Extension, although recommended by many practitioners as a solution for back problems, has the opposite effect for many.
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  • 4 months later...

Hi Kit,


Thank you for your reply. First of all, congratulations on the new website!


Sorry I have not logged in since September 2015. I will make an attempt to log in more often.


After a few more months of teaching the #2 backbend, I must say that it is still difficult to teach beginners this pose. What I meant in my earlier question was that the action of tugging in the tail bone itself for me does increase the range of extension of the spine. However, I have overlooked that for most beginners, to move the tail bone up and down itself is not a possible action. I have not teach cobra in a big beginners yoga class since September.  Instead, as you said in your reply, introduced lots of standing postures to relief the lower back tension first.


Many thanks Kit.

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Up to you, Dominic. Try them and see if your body likes them. There are no rules here, just suggestions for positions to put your body in, see how it feels, then see if you need to go deeper into that movement direction, or on to the next exercise. Every day this experience will be different.

To everyone: these are suggestions for places to start. They use no contractions, are designed to feel good, and to be done a a daily starting point. If you do get down on the floor and do all five (or seven, or nine) instead of thinking about it (and spending time writing about it) all will become clear! 

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