Yang Jiamin can now contort her body into some amazing shapes (go check out @jyan.yoga and see for yourself), but just five years ago, she was diagnosed with spinal condition spondylolisthesis and suffered from severe back pain. Yoga wasn’t just a refuge, but a literal physical transformation. “I was completely healed, and I would say it’s a blessing in disguise,” Jiamin says. Now a yoga instructor, she also has a pretty impressive weekly workout regime that also includes ballroom dance, pole, Pilates, calisthenics, HIIT and boxing.
1 / 5Read more
2 / 5 Do what makes you feel goodRead more
I had a spinal fracture when I was 16, and by the time I was 20, whenever I sneezed or coughed there would be a sharp pain shooting through my spine. The doctor even said that there’s a chance I might be paralysed if I didn’t go for a fusion surgery. However, I was determined to look for alternatives.
I chanced upon a yoga workshop and decided to go for teacher training so I could learn more about the anatomy and exercises that could target different muscle groups. After 6 months of intensive training, my back pain gradually went away. This ignited my passion to share my knowledge with others who were facing the same issues as me and that’s how I started my journey as a Yoga Instructor.
3 / 5 Yoga gave the long term results she was looking forRead more
Yoga focuses a lot on alignment, improves total body strength and flexibility, which was exactly what I needed. Back then, I tried chiropractic treatment, TCM and physio but the relief was only temporary. I thought, if I were to work my core and back muscles to strengthen my trunk, it could help to support and prevent future my discs from getting compressed further.
Today, most of my private clients suffer from scoliosis and back pain. First, they have to be open-minded about using yoga as a healing tool. It’s important to be patient – after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so practicing consistently and diligently is key. The yoga style I teach involves a lot of mindful breathing, so it’s more of Hatha style which is slower paced, to focus more on alignment.
4 / 5 Stretching is not just about being bendyRead more
Being flexible will reduce your risks of injury during exercises and daily activities. I stretch for about 30 mins a day. I like to do long static holds when I stretch, usually do it every night before I sleep. When I try to adopt a fitness regime, start by making it a habit for 28 days, and eventually it will become part of your daily routine.
Some simple stretching exercises to try are seated forward fold, butterfly, pigeon, seated straddle forward fold, and passive backbend stretch with a block underneath the middle back.
5 / 5 Your workout should also be a mental gameRead more
Yoga is more than just the physical practice. There are days when rolling out a mat is the last thing I want to do, but whenever I feel that way I’ll sit, meditate, and restore some mental clarity.
For beginners to meditation, start small. 5 minutes of meditation is better than 30 minutes of frustration and getting discouraged. Increase the time only when you’re comfortable. The mind is very powerful, and it’s the biggest obstacle standing in the way between thoughts and reality. So when you meditate and focus on your breath, your mind becomes silent and you’re free from distractions. It allows you to think better, and make better decisions too.
By Clara How; images from Yang Jiamin