Yoga and Health

Yoga and Back Pain

shutterstock_231028933Back pain and soreness are symptoms that affect millions of people everyday. While a widespread problem – like the common cold – it’s a difficult one for many medical professionals to effectively treat. Aspirin and other pain relievers may act like a band aid and diminish the pain temporarily, though there is evidence to believe that using yoga to realign the body and calm the mind, can provide long term benefits in minimizing and in some cases completely eliminate recurring back pain.


What is yoga? Originating in India, yoga is an ancient discipline that strengthens the mental, physical and spiritual well being of the participant. While there are various schools and styles, the main theme amongst participants is various methods of meditation and physical stretching, all requiring focus and a desire to take yourself to new, more difficult levels of practice.


However, utilizing the benefits of yoga to ease common ailments like back pain does not require one to become a devout practitioner, rather integrating various practices into your day or taking a regular class,  can have a positive effect on diminishing the symptoms of a various types of back pain.


Before seeking out a teacher or joining a local yoga class or school, it is important to speak with your doctor or a medical professional to determine if there are any limitations or things to avoid that may negatively affect your current condition. While yoga is beneficial for many, it is not for everyone and every condition, this will allow you to discuss with your teacher the best path to utilizing yoga to aid in treating the pain in your back.


Some common poses are considered to be the most beneficial in treating back conditions and are generally simple and easy for beginners. It is important to be aware that there are various types of yoga with some being focused more on meditation or spiritual growth, while others focus more on physical limits. Commonly practiced styles like Bikram, Kundalini and Ashtanga yoga are usually better for serious practitioners focused on personal growth. While a hatha yoga is generally better for treating pain or soreness of the back.


What is hatha yoga? Hatha yoga is a style of yoga focused on the broad uses of general physical yoga positions and is the preferred style of participants that use yoga as a form of exercise or physical therapy. A main theme of hatha yoga is proper body alignment, which along with the various mental and spiritual aspects, can not only diminish back pain but also lead to better sleep, increased levels of energy, better muscle tone, improved blood circulation, and decrease mental stress all leading to overall better health and well being. The various breathing aspects and exercises can also provide benefits with heart rate and lowering blood pressure.


Hatha yoga is a type of yoga that includes most common styles. It is has an emphasis on the practice of asanas (physical postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which provide the participant with meditative and physical benefits, by calming the mind and aligning the body.

While it’s a term used to refer to various specific schools of yoga, it is generally simple, slow and easy for new practitioners to learn, practice, and enjoy. It’s more lenient and relaxed methods of practice are viewed as more beneficial physically for participants with a focus on holding stretching positions longer, providing further flexibility, strength, and alignment to the body.


It is believed that one of the many specific benefits of yoga on diminishing back pain and soreness is through it’s practice of asanas (physical postures) which make the spine more flexible and decreases stress and tension in the nerves. Evidence has shown that the greatest benefits of practicing hatha yoga is for people suffering from chronic lower back pain or soreness. Studies have shown that regular practice of yoga to treat the symptoms of lower back pain not only aid in management and treatment, but also lead to lower usage of potentially addictive pain medications

that can in many cases lead to damaging conditions affecting the liver and kidneys.


Deciding to use yoga in the treatment of back pain or soreness should involve careful planning with a focus on aiding the condition rather than advancing to more difficult or advanced asanas (physical postures). Simple asanas, practiced regularly over a significant duration of time have shown to provide effective treatment to those suffering from lower back pain.


When deciding to join a local yoga class or school it is important to find a teacher that has experience in using yoga as a therapeutic method of treatment for pain, rather than as a form of exercise or personal fulfillment. Good intentions, while generally sincere, do not always translate to skill and understanding in healing a physical condition. It is important to discuss with the teacher their experience in working and aiding back pain suffers, so they can not only ensure they can provide assistance, but also have a clear understanding of your personals needs, goals, and potential reservations.


For those that do not have a class or school within a convenient location or simply do not want to engage with a group, there are many resources in print and online that can assist someone with practicing in the comfort of their own home. Everything from video classes, books, to personal coaches can be found and utilized for anyone who wants to use yoga to provide treatment and relief for their back pain and soreness.  Be sure to research possible options and note reviews and feedback from previous participants and users to assess the potential benefits to providing treatment for your condition. Ensuring that your source has a track record of success is essential to ensuring you are on the path to healing, rather than wasting time or in some cases causing further damage.

Yoga has been used for more than a millennia in treatmenting pain. It’s a discipline that when practiced correctly has provided enormous relief in aiding many.

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