The Health of Your Spine Will Improve Your Game

By: Chiara Guerrieri

Your spine is at its best when it isn't aggravated by the effects of gravity pulling you down as you work and play. A spine that isn't compressed can rotate more efficiently without disturbing the nerve roots that merge on either side of each vertebra, allowing you to move freely and without pain.

The spine is cushioned by "space-savers," called discs, which are comprised of a hard outer shell and a juicy inner part. After a good night's rest the discs expand and absorb from the nearby tissue's moisture, and nutrients become plumper to give the spine more spring.

In weight-bearing activities the juiciness of the discs gets reabsorbed by nearby tissues, lessening the space-saving and springiness of the spine. Poor posture and misalignment can further compromise the integrity of the discs and their space-saving capacities. Discs that are compromised can impinge on nerves, causing pain and putting a big crimp in your golf game.

Yoga provides a laboratory to develop awareness of one's position in space: deep breathing allows us to track sensations in the body and to fine-tune our body mechanics. When you are aware of the space between your head and tailbone, and know how to expand the space using your breath and "core" muscles, you can move more powerfully and with less effort.

Chiara Guerrieri began practicing yoga more than 20 years ago while searching for a way to heal her body from the pain and trauma of a car accident. Her practice of yoga deepened significantly in the 1990s, when a back injury led to study with Ana Forrest in order to strengthen her core to better support her spine.

Chiara has completed two teacher-trainings with Ana Forrest, one in 1998 and a second in 1999. She has been teaching yoga ever since. As a massage therapist who specializes in injury rehabilitation, Chiara has a special interest in anatomy and has been teaching anatomy at several yoga teacher-trainings in the Seattle area.

The classes that Chiara teaches focus on the core, the deepest musculature of the body's center. A stabilized core can deepen the support provided to the outer layers and limbs. By developing their cores, students will connect to a deeper place within themselves.

Chiara's core classes are readily accessible to anyone with a basic background in yoga. Students do not need to be strong to take Chiara's core classes. Rather, the purpose of working on the core is to become strong.

Chiara has a strong interest in injury evaluation and treatment and welcomes students who are recovering from any injury or other physical pain. Chiara can adapt all movements so that all students can find a way to participate and also develop the support their bodies need to recover.

Chiara is currently working on a book about yoga and injuries. For more details, visit her website at