Startstanding.org states that 1 in 3 people experience back pain. Another statistic mentions that at least 50% of all working people experience back pain. These numbers are overwhelmingly high and sadly it’s not hard to believe that many people suffer from chronic pain — pain has become a common theme in our bodies. So, why are so many people dealing with back pain, and what’s the cure? Do people really use yoga for back pain?
My own path in the search for a cure began when I was looking for relief from a snowboarding accident that turned into chronic lower back and sciatic pain. I managed the pain through massages, monthly visits to the chiropractor, and acupuncture to name a few — all offering me short-term relief. There was a time in my life when I had simply come to accept that my body was always going to be in pain and the only thing I could do was manage it. At this time, I had discovered yoga for back pain.
The first time I tried a yoga class, I could barely lay down on the mat. At that time, my lower back was aching, tight, and sore with shooting pain up my back and down my left leg. Even simply laying on my mat was a painful challenge.
My chronic pain took a turn when the yoga teacher instructed us into pigeon pose. The relief was immediate! I left the class with excitement and couldn’t wait to get back on the mat. That was over 10 years ago and I’ve never stopped practicing yoga! The practice of Asana (physical postures) has provided me with much more than just temporary relief!
Research suggests that yoga is just as effective at relieving back pain as physical therapy, with lasting benefits! A 12-week yoga study by The American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that practicing yoga for back pain regularly improved pain intensity and reduced opioid use among military veterans! This demonstrates just how powerful the practice of yoga can be and how effective this routine can be when using yoga for back pain.
When we experience chronic pain, it can impact many areas of our personal and professional lives. Sitting for a long period at work becomes a challenge and we may become irritable and impatient with the ones around us. I remember this feeling before I discovered yoga for back pain.
As I continued to do yoga for many years, my chronic back pain slowly lessened until it was primarily gone. My back pain was my silver lining. It introduced me to the practice of yoga and Asana! Yoga benefits many areas of my life including my mental and physical state of mind. Like most things in life, healing comes with consistency and self-care.
Here are 3 poses that may help alleviate lower back pain! If you’re new to yoga, keep an open mind. And remember, when we’re healing a part of ourselves, we need to be gentle and easy on our bodies. Don’t push it, just relax and let the movement and positions do the work.
1. Baddhakoṇāsana or Butterfly Pose
In this seated pose, sit up straight and bring the soles of your feet together. The intensity can change depending on how close or far away your feet are from your body. You can hold this pose anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes, or longer.
2.Uttānāsana or Forward Fold
While standing, micro bend your knees as you bend forward. Hold onto opposite elbows or grab your toes. Remember, be gentle! You can stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 or 4 minutes.
3. Supta Kapotasana or Reclined Pigeon Pose
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Bring your left ankle over your right knee. Flex your left ankle to protect your knee. You can stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes.
These are just three of many yoga poses that will help with back pain and your overall well being — mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It’s worth mentioning that Asana is only one of the eight limbs of yoga. The limbs include Yama — restraints/ external discipline, Niyama—observance/what to do, Āsana—postures, Prāṇāyāma—regulation of breath, Pratyāhāra—sense withdrawal, Dhāraṇā—concentration, Dhyāna—meditation, Samādhi—state of peace, joy, contentment.
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