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Yoga Solutions for Back Pain

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
Jun 5, 2008
Almost everyone has had some sort of back pain during the course of their lives. For most, it eventually goes away. For some, however, back pain never goes away. Yoga could be the answer to back pain.

Recent studies show that regular yoga practice can have an extraordinary effect on relieving the stiffness and agony of chronic back pain.

Yoga provides relief from back pain in several different ways. This has to do with the way the spine is affected by the alignment and function of all the parts of the body. The condition of the legs, hips, pelvis, shoulders and even the buttocks, influences the condition of the back. Due to this, as you improve strength and flexibility throughout the body, your back is in better shape.

The vast majority of people, do not pay terribly close attention to the way they move and hold their bodies, throughout the day. Sometimes we hold ourselves in ways that harm, rather than support our frame. Often we entertain poor posture or sit awkwardly most of the day in an office chair, allowing stress and tension to overtake our muscles and mind.

Studies reveal that yoga is better than conventional exercise because of this very element. Yoga involves a great deal of mental focus and a purposeful mindset. While performing poses, yoga students are instructed to pay close attention to their breath. Meditation and visualization create a direct link between the movements of the body and breathing. These interconnecting elements trigger high degrees of body awareness.

The result is that even when people are not doing yoga, they will still become aware of how they may have been moving and positioning their bodies in unhealthy ways. In turn, people who practice yoga make better and healthier choices in movement, consciously and unconsciously. They experience a higher degree of flexibility and range of movement. Not only that, yoga reduces overall muscle tension, which is a big cause of back pain.

Yoga increases flexibility by stretching and lengthening the muscles of the body. Stretching is a big help for any kind of back pain. Yoga poses require students to stretch and hold their bodies in a variety of ways that lengthen interconnecting muscles.

Instead of just stretching the area that hurts, yoga affects the entire body. When a student decides to make yoga practice a regular part of his or her lifestyle, all the muscles of the body learn to work together. This results in providing longer lasting relief, which increases with regular yoga practice. Stretching also increases circulation, which relieves back pain.

In daily life, the muscles that support the back rarely get properly worked out. For proper support of the back, many muscles around the core of the body must be strong. Yoga strengthens these muscles and brings muscle groups into balance.

For most people who spend much of their day seated, facing their computer, and leaning slightly forward, their hips will take on much of the pressure. The hips are also staying mostly stationary and locked in position.

When the hips become weak and stiff from this day-to-day atrophying, proper posture and support is lost. Yoga poses, such as the triangle pose, open up the hips when properly done. Novice yogis must make sure to get in-person instruction from a competent teacher, before attempting any yoga pose.

An emphasis on yoga poses (asanas) is a science of good posture. Yoga instruction teaches the proper way to move between poses and hold a pose during class. Yet, the posture practice transcends the class into daily life, which teaches us to sit and stand in healthy ways, during the course of a day.

These lessons provide a comprehensive program of movements to stretch, strengthen, and retrain all areas of the body. Basically the body is being taught how to move again.

For example: Pelvic tilts, or the bridge pose, warm up the hips and lower back before progressing to more complicated postures. The cat-cow pose, and downward facing dog, are also recommended for back pain.

Cautiously practicing the forward spinal stretching of the plow pose, with proper guidance, relieves discomfort in both the upper and lower back and increases spinal flexibility. This pose is sometimes recommended to accompany the shoulder stand pose. As previously mentioned, the triangle pose helps back pain and posture. This pose is easier for less flexible yoga practitioners.

Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. He is an author of many books on the subject of Yoga and has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995.

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