Yoga is an ancient practise that brings together mind and body. It incorporates breathing techniques, exercise, meditation and poses, and is designed to encourage relaxation.
Practising yoga can have many positive benefits both mentally and physically. Some of these include:
- Reducing stress by decreasing cortisol levels
- Improving sleep (it has been shown to increase the secretion of melatonin)
- Improving flexibility, and enhancing balance & strength in the body, without putting stress on joints.
- Research has also suggested that yoga may help stimulate the vagus nerve which has been effective in relieving migraines.
Many people think of yoga as a good way to relieve stress and tension, however, it can also be a great way to reduce back pain and maintain a healthy spine, preventing problems in the future.
Yoga teaches good posture and body alignment and gently strengthens the spine. If you think of your head as a bowling ball, round and heavy. When it is balanced correctly over your spine it takes far less work for your neck and back to support it. Move it slightly forwards or slouch, and the muscles begin to strain – imagine the stress after 12 hours or more. Poor posture can lead to back, neck and muscle problems. As you slouch, your body compensates causing pain and even arthritis of the spine.
Many of the postures in yoga strengthen the abdominal and back muscles. These are essential components of the muscular network of the spine, promoting upright posture and movement. When these muscles are well conditioned, back pain can be reduced and even avoided.
Flexibility is just as vital as strength, as an example, tight hamstrings can lead to flattening of the lumbar spine, causing aches and pain. Inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue can also cause poor posture.
Yoga Journal offers a range of yoga poses specifically for back pain. Movements like downward-facing dog, child’s pose and cat/cow give your back muscles a good stretch.
Click here for 5 yoga poses to help ease lower back pain.
There are many different types of yoga but Hatha yoga classes are great for beginners.
Why not join a Yoga class in your local area? If you do join a class, ensure you let the instructor know about any specific pain/limitations for extra support and modifications that can be made for certain poses. Another option is to look for yoga studios that offer classes specifically for back pain relief.
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