- by Daniel
Yoga For Back Pain - Strike A Pose For A Healthier Back
Yoga can provide the perfect mix of movement, stretching, and controlled breathing to keep your back healthy. So being a poser can be great for people with back pain.
Yoga is a fantastic activity for anyone with back pain.
As it can help to improve your posture, keep your body flexible, and strengthen your core muscles to give your back more support.
And this is great for relieving the pressure and strain on your body and back during the day.
Also the stretches matched with controlled breathing can really relax both your body and the mind.
Which allows you to release any tension you may be holding in your muscles.
And these positive effects of yoga for people with back pain have been shown in many scientific studies which have found that it can:
So yoga isn't just a great activity for your health and fitness.
It's can also help you to manage your pain and improve your overall quality of life.
9 Reasons Why Yoga Is Great For People With Back Pain
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So why is yoga so good for the health of your back?
It all comes down to a combination of the following 9 things.
1. Yoga Increases Your Flexibility
Stretching out your muscles during yoga practice causes them to lengthen and strengthen.
And this increased flexibility will keep your body balanced and relieve the pressure on your back as you move throughout the day.
This is especially important in your hamstrings, as keeping these loose will reduce the load and strain on your lower back.
And this will also give you an increased range of motion in your joints, meaning you'll be better able to stay active and move easier.
2. Yoga Strengthens Your Core Muscles
When holding the yoga poses your body is supporting various degrees of your own body weight.
And this strengthens the muscles across your whole body including your core, abdominal, and back muscles, which help to support your spine.
So by keeping these core muscles strong with yoga you are giving your back greater support and stability.
Which will help you to keep back pain at bay.
3. Yoga Releases Muscle Tension
The deep stretches aligned with controlled breathing in yoga help to relieve stress and tension in your body.
And this is important.
As not only will this make you feel better, it'll also keep your body better balanced and able to maintain a healthier posture.
Which brings me on to...
4. Yoga Improves Your Posture
Tight muscles can cause your body to hunch up into a bad posture which will make you even more tense and uncomfortable.
But by releasing and lengthening these muscles through yoga stretches your body can settle into a more healthy, balanced and comfortable posture.
This will keep your spine in alignment and relieve the pressure and strain on your body and back throughout the day.
5. Yoga Increases Your Circulation
Stretching out your muscles through yoga will also increase the blood flow to them.
And this will help to deliver the oxygen and nutrients to them that they need to heal, repair, and stay healthy.
As well as flushing away any trapped waste and toxins in the muscles that may be causing painful inflammation and irritation.
6. Yoga Relaxes Your Body & Mind
The controlled breathing and stretching in yoga helps to slow down your heart rate and relax your body and mind.
And this is great for releasing any stress and tension you may be holding in your body.
And the meditation part of yoga also adds to this effect.
So you may feel blissfully relaxed and content at the end of your yoga session, which is great.
In fact, sometimes this effect can be so strong that people are warned to take extra care when driving home afterwards!
7. Yoga Encourages The Release Of Endorphins
Practicing yoga also encourages the release of endorphins, which work as the body's natural painkiller.
So it's a great way of relieving your pain naturally.
And these endorphins will make you feel happier too which leads on to...
8. Yoga Puts You In A Positive Mood
Yoga is great for improving your mood and making you feel more positive.
And this is vital for helping you to get rid of persistent back pain.
As it will leave you feeling happier, healthier and more energised.
And this will give you the positive outlook you need to be able to handle and manage your chronic pain better throughout the day.
9. Yoga Helps You To Get A Better Night's Sleep
As yoga helps to relax your body and mind it often leads to a very deep and restorative sleep.
In fact, some of my best ever sleeps have come after an evening yoga class!
And this is great because getting a good night's sleep is so important for people with back pain.
As it's during sleep that your body can heal, repair and regenerate itself.
And your back can get the respite it needs to stay healthy.
Which Is The Best Type Of Yoga For Back Pain?
Hopefully you can now see the benefits of practicing yoga for your back pain and may be leaning towards giving it go.
However, before you begin you need to be aware that there are a few different types of yoga and each one caters to slightly different needs.
So have read through of the four most common forms of yoga to see which one suits you the best.
This is probably the most popular type of yoga.
And it's a good choice for beginners as it has a gentle, slow and relaxed style.
So the emphasis of Hatha yoga is to combine controlled breathing with gentle body movements and postures.
Each posture is held for a certain length of time with the aim of bringing peace and relaxation to the mind and the body.
So you'll definitely feel relaxed and refreshed after a Hatha yoga session.
Also known as 'hot yoga', Bikram yoga classes will help you work up a sweat.
As the classes take place in a studio set to a temperature of 105 degrees fahrenheit!
They also last for 90 minutes and involve working through 26 postures and two breathing techniques.
So you'll get a great workout with this style of yoga.
The idea behind it is that the sweat you produce from the heat will flush out toxins from your body.
Plus it'll help your muscles to relax more, which enables you to stretch further into the postures.
So you can go deeper and gain more physical benefits from your yoga session.
Vinyasa yoga involves more of a flow of movement rather than holding postures.
So in this way it can be more akin to an aerobic workout than the more traditional perception of yoga.
However, it still carries many of the same benefits of regular yoga.
But because of the intensity of this form of yoga it may not be suitable for everyone with back pain.
And it's probably not one to try if you are a complete beginner.
So start with a more gentle form of yoga like Hatha first, then move up to Vinyasa if you feel like you want a bit more of a challenge.
Iyengar yoga involves holding the postures and poses for the longest period of time.
As the idea is that the longer you hold and relax into the postures the more deeper into them you can go.
Which can help you to stretch out your muscles to the maximum.
Apparatus such as blocks, belts and chairs are also used to help people to go deeper.
However, when I tried Iyengar yoga I found that holding the yoga postures for longer actually increased my pain.
So be careful with this one.
How To Get Started With Yoga
Once you've decided which type of yoga you want to try the next step is to find a class.
So look for one in your local area that caters for beginners and go from there.
And if you don't have a preferred style of yoga, you could try a class at your local gym.
As most gyms run regular yoga classes (usually Hatha or Vinyasa) that you can sign up for for free as part of your monthly membership.
Or you can practice yoga at home by following YouTube videos.
However, I'd recommend going to a few classes first before trying these.
As it's best to learn how to do the moves safely with an instructor to avoid injuring yourself.
1. Find A Yoga Class
Most local gyms run yoga classes as part of their monthly memberships, so you may be able to join a class for free.
Which is the easiest option to get started with yoga.
However, the quality of these classes may vary depending on the teacher and you won't get to choose the style of yoga.
So if you want the best quality from your yoga class seek out a dedicated yoga studio.
As they will run a variety of classes where you'll have more choice over the style of yoga and intensity of the session.
However, because of the higher quality these classes will also be more expensive.
These are cheaper, more informal and can be a great way of meeting new people and having a bit of fun with yoga.
So they may be a good option if you find the thought of an actual yoga class full of experienced yogis a little daunting.
2. Practice Yoga At Home
Once you've been to a few yoga classes and have got the hang of the postures and breathing, you can start to practice on your own at home.
Which can be a good option if you don't fancy going to a group yoga class regularly.
Or if you don't have the time to be able to fit them into your busy schedule.
So being able to practice yoga whenever you like in the comfort of your own home is a great option to have.
And there are a plenty of yoga videos on YouTube such as the one above that you can use to get your yoga on.
These include sessions designed especially for people with back pain.
Or you find yoga sessions for many other purposes such as helping you to sleep better, giving you more energy, or making you more focused.
You name it, it's on there!
So if you prefer to do yoga at home then these videos can be a great help.
Just make sure your technique is good to avoid any injuries.
Important Things To Consider Before You Begin
I hope I've inspired you to give yoga a try.
However, it's important to stay safe as you practice to get the benefits from it.
So consider the following before diving in.
Make Sure It's Safe For You To Try Yoga
I've given you information here on what yoga can do for you and why you should give it a go.
And lots of these claims have been backed up by scientific studies.
However, I'm not a doctor or a physical therapist.
So always consult with your physician before beginning any new activities to make sure they are safe for you to try.
Don't Get Competitive
When practicing yoga it's important to remember that it isn't meant to be a competitive exercise.
So relax into the poses and only go as far as your body allows you to.
As wherever you get to is completely fine.
And it doesn't matter if the person next to you is able to manipulate their bodies much better than you can.
So don't try and match or outdo them by pushing yourself further than your body is comfortable going.
As this will only lead to you pulling muscles and injuring yourself.
Find A Good Yoga Teacher
Not all yoga teachers are the same and you may have to try a few different classes before you find one that you like.
So how can you tell if you've got a duff yoga teacher?
The bad ones will try and push you further than you are comfortable going and won't help you to perform the postures correctly.
Whereas the good ones will correct you when needed, encourage you not to go too far, and adapt the postures if they are too difficult.
So keep searching until you find a class with a teacher that puts the health and well-being of their class at the top of their priorities.
Tell Your Yoga Teacher About Your Back Problems
This is really important.
As if you tell your teacher that you have back issues before you start their class, they will then be able to give you postures that will help and not aggravate your problem.
And a good teacher will warn you beforehand if a posture carries a risk of hurting your back and will give you an alternative exercise to do instead.
So this is an important thing to do to stay safe and minimise the risk of any injuries.
However, having said all that don't be afraid to try yoga.
Because as long as you address these issues you will be reaping the benefits for years to come.
Living with persistent back pain is tough.
However, there are activities that can help you to manage or even get rid of this pain.
And yoga is one of those activities that can really help.
As it improves your flexibility, core strength, balance, and posture.
And this will relieve the pressure and strain on your body, greatly reducing your pain levels.
It will also help you mentally and emotionally by relaxing your mind and putting you in a positive mood.
Which is great for releasing stress and tension and being able to live your life well despite any pain.
So what are you waiting for?
Join a yoga class and start to feel the benefits for yourself today.