Guest Author - Terri Johansen
Probably sometime in your life you have or will suffer from back pain. Over 65 million people suffer from low back pain and it is one of the most common causes of chronic disability in the world today. There are many reasons that can cause this pain; surgery, injury, degeneration of the joints, herniated discs, and many more. People often turn to medication, steroid shots, rest, and other medical methods for pain relief.
Yoga is an alternative, natural way to relieve back pain. When using yoga therapy for the back several things are to be taken into consideration:
•Everyone’s spine is distinct and there is no one path to wellness. Yoga therapy is designed to treat each individual’s specific problems.
•Exercises for the back are based on a person’s flexibility, strength, habits, and current posture.
•Yoga poses can be modified to prepare sequences based on each individual case.
•Stability of your spine and pelvis is related to many muscles throughout the body. Yoga therapy evaluates this stability and will include poses for the major muscles such as: hip flexors, abdominals, and hamstrings.
•Physical lifestyle factors are used in developing a patient’s yoga plan, such as: do you participate in sports, do you sit a lot, how much do you weigh, genetic causes, how much do you exercise, and any other questions that will help the therapist design your specific plan.
How can yoga provide back pain relief?
•Movement. We don’t use our bodies for physical activity as much as we should. TV, video games, long work hours, and other lifestyle activities where we sit for long periods of time are one of the major causes of back pain.
•Education. People are taught the anatomy of the back and the connection to all body parts. Understanding is key to overcoming.
•There is a harmonious union of balance, stretching, and strengthening the muscles of the spine and supportive muscles. There is also a strong focus on the core of the body which contains the abdominal muscles.
•Breathing. Once a person is taught some of the yogic breathing exercises (pranayama) these exercises become very valuable in releasing stress.
•Combining yoga poses with relaxation skills provides relief from stress. Stress can cause muscles to become tight and pulled shorter. This becomes a muscle spasm.
How do I get started and keep going?
A main factor is safety. A yoga program for back pain relief will increase progressively as you show and feel improvement. Starting slow allows you and your body time to learn and become familiar with the poses. Using props is encouraged. When lying on your back a towel or pillow under your head and neck is recommended.
It is always best to work with a trained yoga teacher but that isn’t always available so here are some poses to start with. It is recommended that you talk to your physician before starting a yoga program or any exercise routine.
•Start with 2-3 minutes of yogic breathing. The complete breath and the Alternate Nostril Breathing are both easy and very relaxing. This will prepare you for the yoga practice.
•Supine Twist with variations: Knees to chest twist; Lifted knees to chest twist; one leg twist
•Kneeling Lunge using a blanket for the knees and a chair to hold onto for support
•Arm and leg balance
•Corpse Pose – relaxation
Enjoy this sequence. Do it slowly and deliberately once a day. When you feel you are ready gradually add more poses for the back.
Practice yoga, live right.
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