The yoga class in center city Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was flowing, smooth, and authentic. Yogic-minded instructors and students from downtown Philadelphia were exploring yoga therapy and a yogic approach to back pain. Millions of Americans suffer from debilitating back pain every year. Despite phenomenal advances and powerful technology, the underlying cause of pain, combined with side-effects, can manifest arthritis, strained ligaments, scoliosis, and herniated disks, to name a few illnesses related to the back. Nonetheless, many practitioners attest that yoga can offer effective healing that is relatively free of any side effect. Proceed with caution as you breathe deeply and do poses, and be willing to treat your healing as a process. Time and perseverance are part of the yoga condition.
Tips to eliminate back pain, or care for potential pending back pain, were discussed after yoga class. The following was suggested:
a. Rule out life-threatening causes of back pain, such as cancer, infections, or ruptures, as muscle spasms are much more common. Check with your doctor or health care practitioner to make sure it is safe for you to practice yoga as part of stretching and healing your back. If you have any unusual weight gain or loss, and you’re over age 50, check it out and treat yourself accordingly;
b. Treat any injuries with care. When tissues are inflamed or when there is a lot of excess pain, proceed slowly. Aggressive work-outs in yoga, if your back pain is too intense, can cause even more inflammation or injury. However, bed rest has been shown to cause more harm than good. Try breathing very deeply and doing gentle asanas to release stiffness and pain;
c. Always work with an experienced instructor who challenges and encourages you. Back problems are complex so you want to work with somebody who is trained and who will create a personalized program that is appropriate for your level of fitness, strength, and flexibility. You want your medical condition and your practice tracked and observed. Allow your body to respond.
d. Balance strengthening with stretching. Perhaps try a stomach crunch to prevent future episodes of back pain. Too many stomach crunches, however, can increase tightness in the hips and therefore can exaggerate back problems so be careful. The yogic approach is to determine which muscles need to be stronger and which ones need to be stretched. Forward bends work well if you are experiencing lower back pain; and
e. Make yoga your ally and not your enemy. Have your yoga program designed especially for you. Avoid poses that could make you feel worse, and take care during transitions. Do not do anything suddenly, go slowly and work-out with moderation. Consider the psychology of you, such as any anger, fear, stress, or any other emotions you may have, and use the yogic tools of self-study and meditation towards health. Philadelphia yogis were feeling better, happier, and much more comfortable at the end of the class and the lecture. The bottom line is as follows: yoga, which is applied safely, gently, and appropriately, can allow for recovery from back pain, as well as preventing it from recurring in the future.