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Back Pain and Yoga

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Yoga involves physical poses that are done with controlled breathing to promote relaxation of your mind and body. This form of mental and physical discipline began thousands of years ago in India. The word yoga was derived from a Sanskrit word which means to yoke or unify. With yoga, you unite your mind and body by focusing on carrying out quiet and precise movements that require balance as well as concentration. Uniting you mind with your body will boost your mental and physical health.

Effect of Yoga on Back Pain

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Yoga on Beach

Stretching joints and muscles to their limits combined with relaxing breathing techniques will help reduce strain on muscles and joints. For this reason, yoga can be included in back pain management.

There are many yoga poses to relieve the tension and pain in our back. However, some poses can be strenuous and may result in back strain. Before giving yoga a try, it's best to check first with your doctor who could tell you if you need to avoid. It is also important to find out which yoga exercises will be the most helpful for your condition. Work with a trained yoga instructor who can help you choose the poses that will suit you best. A yoga pose should be held from five to ten seconds, depending on your level of comfort. Below are some of the yoga positions for relieving back pain:

Cobra pose. This position focuses on allowing your spine to move you. It helps align the discs on you spine and strengthen your back.

  1. Lie flat on your stomach and stretch your legs back with your heels and toes together
  2. Place your hand on the floor under your shoulders, keep your elbows in toward your body.
  3. Press your feet, thighs and hips firmly into the floor.
  4. As you breathe in, lift your chin and the your shoulders. Refrain from crunching your shoulders up your neck.
  5. Lift the upper part of your chest off the floor, but avoid pushing you ribs forward because it may harder your lower back. The back bend must be distributed evenly throughout your spine.
  6. Look upwards and hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Go back to the starting position on an exhalation.

Leg lifts

It strengthens the abdominal and lower back muscles. Doing this exercise helps trim the waist and thighs. To get the most benefit from this Yoga Posture, make sure that the full length of your back is resting on the floor and your shoulders and neck are relaxed.

  1. Lie flat on the floor.
  2. As you breathe in, raise both legs, keeping your knees straight and your buttocks on the floor.
  3. Breathe out as you bring both legs straight down. To avoid any injuries, make sure that your lower back is kept flat on the floor while you bring you legs down.

Boat pose

This pose tones your abdomen and strengthens your back. When the boat pose, you should not hold your breath even if you are concentrating on your balance. You also need to keep your knees together

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent in front of you
  2. Bring your legs straight up to a 45 degree angle
  3. Your torso will naturally lean back, but you should not let your spine collapse. Balance on your tail bone. Your body should make a V shape
  4. To help with balance, bring your arms straight out parallel to the floor at about your knee level.
  5. Stay in the pose for about 10-20 seconds while breathing easily. Release your legs as you exhale and sit upright as you inhale.

Read more details about Yoga.

Safety Issues

Hatha yoga is generally at least as safe as any other stretching-based exercise program. However there are a few hatha yoga positions, such as the headstand, that can cause injury when they are performed by a person who isn’t yet sufficiently advanced in yoga, or who has certain health problems, such as a detached retina. A properly qualified instructor can help you avoid injury, taking your own individual health status into account.


  1. "Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Efficacy of Iyengar Yoga Therapy on Chronic Low Back Pain."
  2. Williams, Kimberly, Abildso, Christiaan, Steinberg, Lois, Doyle, Edward, Epstein, Beverly, Smith, David, Hobbs, Gerry, Gross, Richard, Kelley, George, Cooper, Linda.
  3. Schatz, M. Back Care Basics: A Doctor's Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief
  4. Budilovsky, J. Adamson, E. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Yoga
  5. Vad, V., Hinzmann, H. 2004. Back RX: A 15-Minute-a-Day Yoga- and Pilates-Based Program to End Low Back Pain. Gotham

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