Yoga for back pain, yoga for weight loss and yoga for stress are among the most common goals of practicing yoga. Whether you’re attending live yoga classes online or a physical studio, yoga’s benefits for these concerns are profound and impactful. Let’s look at yoga for back pain specifically in this article. According to recent statistics 8 out 10 Americans experience back problems at least one or more times in their lifetime. With the problem being so common, the causes vary from sedentary lifestyles and poor posture to stress, lack of exercise and demanding jobs.
What do studies say about yoga for back pain?
Chronic lower back pain affects a vast number of people, and it is only increasing by the day. Today, this problem not only leads to difficulty in pain management, but also disability, psychological symptoms and a reduced quality of life. In a trial, the use of yoga for lower back pain was evaluated. More specifically, how does yoga impact physical functioning and disability pain and associated psychological symptoms. It was found that yoga (when practiced safely with certified yoga teachers) can reduce pain and disability. It also went on to indicate that yoga can reduce the psychological symptoms effectively.
In another study where the effects of yoga for chronic lower back pain was analyzed it was found that yoga had a medium to large effect on disability and pain. Thus, proving that yoga stretches for lower back pain are effective and useful in pain management. Practicing yoga postures for lower back pain regularly will eliminate the problem of lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle amongst the youth today and thus, playing a significant role in preventing lower back pain. When practitioners do yoga to strengthen the lower back, the surrounding muscles also get stronger. More importantly, the core muscles also get stronger which acts as an immense support to the back.
In another study, yoga was associated with short-term improvements in pain intensity, pain related disability, mental health and physical functioning. Evidence found that yoga, when compared to non-exercise or physical therapy exercise on pain, disability, and quality of life for patients with chronic low back pain, can decrease pain from short term to intermediate term and improve functional disability status from short term to long term compared with non-exercise. A systematic review concluded that yoga can significantly reduce pain and increase functional ability in chronic low back pain patients. 4 weeks of yoga intervention also improved pain status and pain-related functional disability, increased spinal flexibility and corticomotor excitability significantly more than standard care, concluding that yoga for the spine also improves overall quality of life.
For disc degenerative disease in cervical and lumbar spine, a study showed that for long-term practitioners yoga significantly reduces degenerative disc disease. In a group practicing yoga, a significant difference in neuropathic pain, patient global assessment, low back pain, disability, and function was found. It was determined that the selected stretch and strength-based yoga exercise could be a promising treatment option.
A Harvard article cited studies from the journal Spine, stating that yoga therapy can reduce pain and functional impairment in people with chronic (lasting more than three months) low back pain. It said, “Yoga has shown promise in treating the condition, but not all studies have looked at the same form of yoga.”
How to practice yoga for back pain?
When practicing yoga for lower back pain, practitioners must be careful of their movement and posture. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind-
Be slow and gentle
Ensure you practice by slowly and gently easing into the right posture. Don’t rush the movement into the pose or jerk the body. Yoga to relieve pain is effective only when practiced with the right alignment. Create a strong foundation by slowly stretching and lengthening the spine. The key is to always be gentle and listen to your body.
Practice with a teacher
If you are already struggling with back pain, it is critical to always practice with an experienced and certified yoga teacher. Some of the best online yoga classes have special sessions on pain management too. Shvasa frequently has special classes for back pain as well. A teacher will help you adjust or modify the posture such that you are comfortable and practicing in an injury-free manner. There should be no added strain on your back. You will also learn to use props as necessary.
Consult your doctor
Before starting a yoga class, get your doctor's approval. You want to ensure you have a list of do’s and don’ts which you then convey to your yoga teacher. Not only will this help your yoga teacher guide you in the right way, but it will also make your own practice and progress more effective and beneficial.
Always be mindful of sensations in your body. If you feel any pain, stop and relax for a few breaths. Practice with complete awareness and presence of mind. Don’t push yourself if you are uncomfortable. Our recommendation is to join a LIVE yoga class, like Shvasa’s, with a certified yoga teacher where you can benefit from real-time feedback, posture modification and injury-free practice. Finally, be patient and give yourself time. Only when you practice regularly for a period of time will you feel the difference.