One of the most common ailments we experience, especially as we age, is lower back pain. If your yoga class doesn’t have at least one student with pain in their lower back then you may have stumbled into an alternate reality! There are many causes of back pain – injury, degeneration – even tight hips and glutes can lead to strain in the lower back. The good news is that yoga is one of the best practices to provide relief and healing. Try these poses as a sequence, or sink into your favorite one after a long day.

1 – Yin back release with a yoga blanket

Place a rolled-up yoga blanket widthways along with your mat. Lie down so that the blanket rests on your lower back, just above the tailbone (you’ll find the sweet spot). The thicker you roll the blanket, the stronger this pose will be. Keeping the blanket straight along the lower back (no diagonals) hold this pose for 2-5 minutes with the arms resting by the sides. Then, move the blanket to the upper back, just below the shoulder blades, or gently resting on the shoulder blades (whichever feels most comfortable). Here, you can take the arms up above the head and rest the hands on the floor. Spend another 2-5 minutes in this pose. Finally, move the blanket up a little higher so that the natural curve of the neck is supported. Stay for a minute or two then release.

2 – Bridge pose with a yoga block 

With a yoga block handy, lie down on your mat. Bend your knees, bringing the soles of your feet to the floor under the knees, setting up for Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose). Bring the palms of the hands to the floor beside you and gently start to lift your hips. Take the block on its low or middle edge and place it onto the sacrum – the flat area above the tailbone (again, you’ll find the sweet spot!). Now, trust the block to support you as you take your palms to face up. Rest here for 2-5 minutes. When you release, gently windscreen wipe the knees from side to side to release any tension.

3 – Child’s pose with a yoga bolster

Place your bolster lengthways along with the mat. Sitting on your knees with the bolster in front of you, take your knees wide. Straddling the bolster, walk your hands along either side of the bolster as you release into Balasana (Child’s Pose). Hug the bolster and rest one cheek down. Stay for 2-5 minutes then rest the opposite cheek down, staying for an equal amount of time.

4 – Pigeon pose with a yoga bolster and blanket

Take a bolster lengthways onto your mat and have a folded blanket nearby. Come to hands and knees behind your bolster, then take your right knee behind your right wrist for a One-legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). 

Move the right foot as far forward, towards the front of your mat, as comfortable. Lengthen your left leg back behind you. If you experience any knee or hip pain, try letting the right seat come down to the floor and walk the right shin forward until you feel a nice opening through your hips. If there’s no pain, keep the hips square and the lower back flat. If you’d like some support under the right glute then place a folded blanket here. From here, walk your hands forward along either side of the bolster, resting one cheek onto the bolster. Stay for 2-5 minutes then switch sides (remember to rest the opposite cheek down).

5 – Supine twist with a yoga block

Come to lie down on your mat with a yoga block nearby. Bring your knees up into your chest and place a block between the legs. From here, taking the arms wide, let the knees release to the right, resting the legs onto the floor if they reach. Let this pose be restful. Stay for 2-5 minutes then gently move onto the other side.

Words by Jessica Humphries for Yoga King


If you’re new to yin yoga and restorative yoga, you’ll be forgiven for asking yourself what exactly is the difference between these two practices? Let’s be honest, you might even ask this question as a seasoned yogi! Yin yoga and restorative yoga are both practised on the floor. With more of a focus on rest, relaxation, and stretching, you won’t be working up a sweat or mistaking these classes for vinyasa. Leave your downward-facing dog for another day, because yin and restorative are all about deep rest.

Upon close inspection, yin and restorative classes are actually quite different – both physically and philosophically. However, you may just find that both paths lead to the same destination.

The physical differences between yin yoga and restorative yoga

Yes – you have probably seen your local yoga studio advertising a ‘yin/restorative’ class. And this isn’t wrong. Yin and restorative practices are physically similar and complimentary, so teaching a hybrid of the two makes sense. After a strong, stretchy yin pose, your body will delight in a restful, restorative asana. Both of these practices are restorative and yin-like in nature – they’re slow, on the floor and invite you to rest, relax and spend time with your Self.

The main physical difference between the two practices is that in a restorative yoga class your body should be completely comfortable – like you could fall asleep. You’ll use props to support your body in a way that leaves you undistracted by physical sensation and completely at ease. Conversely, in a yin yoga practice you can dance around the edges of your comfort. Come again?! In yin yoga you’re asked to explore your edge and allow your body to feel some sensation. It shouldn’t be painful or too strong – but you’re not going to have a nap. In yin, your body’s deeper connective tissue (fascia) is being explored and released, and so a sensation of stretching is necessary.

The philosophy

Based on the teachings of the late B.K.S Iyengar, restorative yoga is essentially a practice of passive healing. It is perfect for students with trauma or injury as you use props to completely support each asana, inviting you to surrender to deep relaxation. Restorative yoga may be viewed as more of a meditation than an asana practice, as the sensation experienced is very minimal. You won’t want to go to a restorative yoga class if you’re feeling like a workout and your mind is racing – but it might be exactly what you need!

Yin yoga, on the other hand, was introduced in the late eighties by Paul Grilley. It is inspired by the ancient Taoist philosophies of yin and yang – opposite but complimentary principles in nature. Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, yin yoga invites ‘chi’ or ‘Qi’ to move through your body’s meridians (energy highways). When you practice yin yoga you will sometimes experience strong sensations – which can make yin more physically and mentally challenging than restorative yoga.

Both practices have been created to impact your emotional body as much as your physical one, and both promise to bring deeper awareness and a level of healing.

Props for your practice

If you can use just a single prop for your yin or restorative yoga practice – let it be the mighty bolster! A bolster can be used in so many ways – to invite deeper stretching in heart openers, to support your hips, and to allow ultimate relaxation in Savasana. Blocks, straps, and an eye pillow will also come in handy if you want the full experience.

What is right for you? Restorative or yin yoga?

Both yin and restorative practices are perfect for busy bodies and minds. You will be invited to find comfort both physically and emotionally, and as the body begins to relax and unwind, the mind can experience a sense of peace and deep rest. If you like to feel like you’re ‘doing something’, yin might be a good place to start. You’ll experience a tangible shift in your body which can be quite powerful.

If you are working with an injury or feel intimidated by the thought of attending a yoga class, start with restorative. It will allow you to explore your body in a gentle and restful way – without comparing yourself to your neighbour (you won’t be able to see them through closed eyes and props anyway!).

Either way – leave your yang mind at the door and prepare to feel deliciously rested, restored and released.

Words by Jessica Humphries for Yoga King


According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer is the most Yang season of all. Here in Australia, it’s an apt time for holiday celebrations. As we emerge from the restfulness of winter, which is Yin in nature, we feel ready and open to engage, play and connect. 

Summer is associated with:

–       Element: Fire

–       Colour: Red

–       Organs: Heart and small intestine

–       Emotion: Joy

These symbolise and inspire creativity, warmth, extroversion, energy, and expansion. When we are balanced in summer, we will feel happy, open, and warm towards others. However, when we are unbalanced, summer can leave us feeling overwhelmed, hyperactive, agitated, and restless. 

To keep your body and mind harmonised this summer, try integrating these simple rituals into your daily life. 

5 rituals to practise in summer

Increase your intake of cooling, yin foods to counteract heat: Think vegetables and fruits with a high-water content (watermelon, lettuce, watercress, cucumbers), white meats and light meals that are easily digested. 

Drink plenty of fluids: Yes yes, we know you know this one, but it bears repeating – fill up a big water bottle and add a dash of lemon in the morning to sip throughout the day. 

Stay calm: Engage in practices that help to keep you calm during this busy, fiery time. Try a few deep belly breaths, yin yoga, or simply having self-compassion and stepping away from difficult situations – if only for a few moments. 

Practice yin yoga poses: Poses that focus on the heart and small intestine meridians are wonderful for finding balance in summer. Think restful heart openers such as lying back on a bolster and poses that stretch the arms and chest.

Rest in the middle of the day: Instead of cranking the air con and powering on, how might it feel to allow your body to rest and digest during the hottest part of the day? Even if you’re short on time, a five-minute lie-down will help to balance the heat’s impact on your body and mind. You could even try a short yoga nidra practice to help you relax when the mind is agitated and it’s difficult to rest. Try this one from Humane Yoga on Youtube.

Words by Jessica Humphries for Humane Yoga

Ease over Effort

Might happiness be found in letting go and going with the flow?

I remember a moment in my early university days when a new friend asked what I was studying. When I answered “Arts, majoring in philosophy” she looked at me, slightly perplexed as another friend piped up, “She’ll end up being a waitress.” This memory has stayed with me and brought with it many philosophical reflections (what’s wrong with being a waitress?!). So far, though, I have had a really satisfying work life that utilises the skills I developed in that degree, which is sadly more than I can say for many of my peers. 

What this, and so many other life lessons, has taught me is that if you go with the flow, do what you enjoy, and don’t push things that aren’t working then the universe will usually have your back.

In a society that encourages you to strive and succeed, choosing the path of least resistance is ironically an incredible achievement. Like riding a wave, how would it feel if you let life lead you in the direction it wants you to go? We might call this going with the flow, choosing ease over effort, or simply letting go.

I know it sounds a bit woo woo but there’s something mysterious and magic about it. And Chinese philosophy can help you to understand and integrate this magic into your life too.  

Discovering Taoism: The Wu Wei Way

One philosophy that embraces ease over effort is Taoism. Aimo Javier is a certified Tai Chi and Qigong instructor and long-term philosopher who lives and teaches in the Byron shire. Aimo introduces me to the concept of Wu wei – the Taoist principle of non-doing. Perplexingly, non-doing is not quite the same as not doing. In fact, Wu wei is an incredibly noble action, and at the heart of the Taoist philosophy. It’s a paradox, because it’s essentially trying not to try. There’s effort in the ease. Day to day it might mean being at peace while engaged in busy tasks and finding yourself ‘in the zone.’ Long term, it’s simply swimming with, rather than against, the current. Setting aside your ego and letting go of rigidity to respond neutrally to what life demands of us in truth (which is often clouded by our self-obsession). Aimo says, “Letting go is the key. Letting go without judgement and accepting things as they are. Just let go.” 

This idea of letting go can sometimes feel abstract and arbitrary. Ironically, letting go often requires some effort. If you want to move towards a life of greater ease, then you might have to exert a bit of pressure. It’s okay to want things and move towards them, but we must do this in an open and accepting way. Aimo says, “If you’re trying to create something, you have to do it from a space where you’re not trying too hard, but you can’t be totally passive either.” When you learn how to master this balance between action and acceptance, you learn how to be in the flow. 

Find your flow

Relax your body

Notice where your tension is and invite it to dissolve and release. Don’t force, just maintain a passive focus. Once you become practiced in this physical letting go, you can start to apply it to other areas of your life. 


What you put into the world comes back to you with powerful lessons. If you’re running around trying to make everyone happy and suddenly you get sick, break a bone or, you know, a worldwide pandemic hits – listen – maybe it’s a sign to slow down. 


You know that it’s not all about you – there’s no man in the sky curating your perfect life. But as a cog in the machine that is our world, mother nature is on your side – she wants you to be healthy and well. Trust the path that feels easy (or easier!), natural and right. 

Connect with nature

Recognise that you are part of something greater. Spend quiet, quality time in nature and notice your sensitivity enhancing and evolving, allowing you to listen and accept more fully. 

Notice where you’re forcing

Are there areas of your life where you feel like you’re constantly pushing and struggling? If things continually go wrong or feel strained, it might be time to change course. 

In the end, my arts degree led me to a career in yoga teaching and freelance writing. Work rarely feels like work because I love it. Sometimes the writing work slows down and I focus a little more on yoga, and vice versa. But I never put my head in my hands and worry about work or money, because I know they always come. In my personal life I sometimes must let go of things that aren’t going well too, and although that can be hard, it usually leads to greater health and happiness. Mostly, I trust that the universe is always pointing me in the right direction – and so far, it’s going pretty well.  

Words by Jessica Humphries for Being magazine

Down to Earth

Exploring ways to ground can help us ditch chaos for calm

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a daydreamer. Blankly staring out of windows as I contemplate the future, and wondering if the blue sky I see is the same as your blue – or maybe you see green when I see blue? This natural, child-like inclination towards dreaminess evolved into something murkier over time, as innocent qualities often do. These days, I can get so caught up in my thoughts that I forget to feel my feet on the ground. Swept up in the neuroses, I can’t sense my centre, only the whirs and hums in my head, and even they feel disjointed and unclear – a cacophony of noises that drown each other out, like insects in the night. 

World chaos, work, kids, and life’s many responsibilities can create the perfect storm for becoming stuck in your head and out of your body. But to spend your life fully, completely and authentically, you must find ways to come back to the present and back to your Self, despite whatever blizzards are blowing around you. 

I’m not the only one searching for solidity. Grounding is now an actual, formal practice that involves exploring ways to connect to the earth’s electricity – by placing your bare skin on the ground or immersing yourself in water. Studies show that this practice has astounding physical and mental benefits, such as strengthening the immune system, reducing muscle damage, and improving mood and sleep. 

In yoga philosophy, the root chakra (Muladhara), located at the base of the spine, is said to be responsible for our sense of safety and security. Balancing Muladhara can help us create a foundation from which to evolve physically and spiritually. You can create harmony in this part of the energetic body by indulging in activities that allow you to ground. Earthing yoga practices that bring your attention into the lower body, meditations and visualisations that focus on the philosophies of the root chakra, and other activities that invite a sense of safety, grounding and connection to the earth. By creating a healthy root chakra, you can feel a greater sense of connection to Self, and release emotions like stress and fear.

For me, grounding comes when having a cup of tea with my chickens, taking my dog for a walk in nature, practicing yin yoga or picking bindis from my front lawn (trust me, it’s very meditative!). These things all help me to find a sense of connection with the earth, and to sort through the thoughts until clarity emerges. Kind of like letting my blue heeler run wild until he stops, puffing and panting, finally able to take in the beautiful world around him.

A root chakra balancing meditation 

  • Prepare a pen and paper for the end of the exercise (or skip the journaling part if you’re short on time). 
  • Find a comfortable space to sit or lie down. Be as close to the earth as possible and, if lying down, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. 
  • Close your eyes and tune into your breath. 
  • Bring your attention to the base of your spine and imagine sending slow, full breaths all the way down. 
  • Start to tune into your centre of gravity, sensing a subtle current from your base chakra down into the earth. 
  • Imagine a red, glowing light at the base of your spine (Muladhara chakra is the colour red). As you inhale, feel the light growing bigger and brighter. As you exhale, imagine the light getting a little smaller as it settles back into its nest. 
  • Continue like this, allowing excess tension to drain into the ground and your thoughts to quieten. 
  • When you feel ready, open your eyes, find your pen and paper and jot down some answers to (some or all of) the following questions:
  1. How often, and how, do I connect with nature?
  2. How is my physical health?
  3. How is my relationship with work and money?
  4. Do I feel I have a right to be here on this earth?

Once complete, sit for a little while longer observing your thoughts and breath. 

Get grounded: Tried and tested ways to find your centre

Embrace Mother Nature

No matter where you are, there’s a patch of nature to explore. You might walk through the forest, dip your toes in the ocean, or simply sit by a window and feel the sun on your skin. 

Go barefoot

Notice how kids love taking their shoes off? It’s such a beautiful instinct and something that promises to connect us to the earth instantly. 


Take a walk, dance in your loungeroom, play hide and seek with your kids or chase your cat around the house. Bodies are a part of nature, and we are made to move. 

Practice gratitude

Gratitude is an essential daily practice for me, and I swear it has kept me sane amidst the greatest calamities of my life. Personally I habit-stack by reciting 10 things I feel grateful for each morning while I shower. The perfect way to start the day!


Let your thoughts run wild and release them by putting pen to paper. You might have a daily journaling practice or just jot down some notes on your phone when you’re feeling overwhelmed to clear your messy mind. 


Take a leaf off your basil plant and eat it right away, indulge in a bowl of root vegetables or enjoy some fruit from your local farmer’s market. When you do eat, think about where your food came from and all the energy that went into its journey to your plate, enjoy the sensation of the taste on your tongue and allow yourself to be fully present in the activity. 


Look in front of you and see what’s there. Is it a dog barking incessantly because he’s ready for his second walk (or is that just me?)? A child asking for your attention? A to-do list begging to be attended to? Whatever is there, can you be fully with it? Life is full of interruptions to our plans. You may find less stress and resistance, and more connection and grounding, by simply going with the flow. 

Words by Jessica Humphries for Being magazine