therapeutic yogaBy Bhavan Kumar

New research shows that practicing certain types of therapeutic Yoga can help relieve chronic lower back pain. Specifically, Hatha Yoga combines classic asanas, controlled breathing, and deep relaxation. The Iyengar, Restorative, and Viniyoga forms of Hatha use props to help practitioners perform the poses properly regardless of flexibility, experience, or physical limitations.

Therapeutic forms of Hatha Yoga training emphasize precise physical alignment of the entire body, while they build flexibility and strength by guiding practitioners through a specific series of poses. Although more people every year turn to Yoga for stress reduction and general wellness. Recently more new Yoga practitioners are following the specific recommendations of their doctors.

The many symptoms of chronic lower back pain are usually caused by misalignment of the pelvic bones or vertebrae. This pain can be intensified by tight, inflexible muscles and connective tissue. These conditions are compounded when the body tries to compensate for the misalignment and pain by preventing movement in the affected area.

Often sufferers of lower back pain stop exercising altogether, due to fear of pain and of further injuring the area. This further weakens the back muscles and sets up a cycle of pain and degeneration. Therapeutic Yoga poses can begin to target this area by relaxing and strengthening the lower back, realigning the skeleton, balancing the muscles, and relieving pain. Yogic exercise strengthens the core muscles of the back and abdominals, stabilizes the torso and decreases pressure on the spine.

A study funded by the US National Institutes of Health and published in the September 2009 issue of Spine reported that twice-weekly, 90-minute sessions of Iyengar Yoga for at least 3 months resulted in the reduction of pain, an increase in mobility, and fewer symptoms of depression for patients with chronic lower back pain.

“The Yoga group had less pain, less functional disability, and less depression, compared with the control group,” said study author Kimberly Williams of West Virginia University. “These were statistically significant and clinically important changes that were maintained six months after the intervention.”

Aside from stretching and strengthening the affected muscles, the psychological and spiritual aspects of Yoga are significant factors too. Additionally, breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation are very important in stress reduction and general health. Therapeutic Hatha Yoga, done with proper postures and breathing, provides an adjunct to standard medicine and a holistic option to those who suffer from lower back pain. Yoga offers a multi-faceted approach to wellness, with attention to physical, psychological, spiritual, and emotional balance.

© Copyright 2011 – Bhavan Kumar / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Bhavan Kumar is a certified Yoga teacher and an exclusive author for Aura Wellness Center.

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