When you teach yoga classes, how often do students ask about techniques to reduce back pain? Study after study shows that yoga helps significantly with managing back pain in conjunction with medical treatment. Yoga strengthens and balances the body while it grants students more control of their minds. Each of these factors alone become huge benefits, when dealing with back pain, but together, they feel like a miracle. Participants of one study reported a decrease in pain, functional disability, and depression. Sixty-eight percent of the participants of that study assigned to practice yoga also continued to practice the art after the study concluded. Even though chronic back pain can be one of the hardest common conditions to live with and treat, yoga can significantly improve the quality of life of back pain sufferers.
One form of yoga commonly practiced to deal with back pain is Restorative yoga; it has specifically been shown to improve mood as well as lessen the pain. Restorative is a therapeutic form of yoga. It strengthens muscles and brings the body into alignment. It is exercise, and like any exercise, it releases dopamine, which vastly improves the mood of the person exercising. This effect is so strong that exercise has been found in scientific studies to be a more effective treatment for depression than drugs in all but the most extreme cases. It is the ultimate mood-booster and promoter of well-being.
Restorative is a contemporary form of yoga specifically developed for therapeutic purposes and many studies have reported excellent results with its use. Viniyoga and Iyengar yoga, are also used to treat back pain, these methods place emphasis on proper technique and form in order to bring the body into alignment. By bringing the spine specifically into proper alignment, many symptoms of back pain can be relieved. Certain branches of chiropractic medicine and yoga also believe that bringing the spine into alignment can solve other health problems. According to these philosophies, because there are energy meridians or channels running along the spine, proper alignment allows for optimal flow – and therefore, ideal health – in all areas of life and the body.
Yoga’s strong emphasis on not just the body, but the mind, is also theorized to be a huge help in the treatment of back pain. By quieting and controlling the mind, many things are possible. First, relaxation is widely known to have an impact on pain. Anxiety causes tension, and tension causes pain. Secondly, a conscious control of the mind can help greatly in managing pain by directing attention elsewhere. The pain may still be there, but you don’t necessarily have to focus on it. Some have even claimed greater control of the mind has helped them consciously harness the placebo effect to help alleviate their pain.
Continuing education courses for yoga teachers have many directions to venture into. When considering the direction of one’s yoga education, it might be worth considering your student’s needs. When we encounter so many people with back pain, it might be prudent to learn more yoga techniques that can help them.