By Kimaya Singh
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Americans spend over $50 billion on back pain every year, and that figure does not include lost wages or costs to employers of absentee workers. Treatment is complicated by the fact that causes are wide-ranging, and the level of pain is not always indicative of the actual damage to the spine itself. Usually, treatment involves a variety of different modalities, and Yoga training has proven to be one of the most effective methods of keeping the spine flexible and healthy.
The spine is made up of 33 bones, or vertebrae, that extend from the head to just below the belly button and is divided into four regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Most back problems are caused by strained muscles and ligaments; others are more serious. Because the spinal column acts as a tube to hold the spinal cord as well as to support the body’s trunk, back pain can be excruciating. Disks, jelly-like rings of cartilage between vertebrae, provide spaces for the nerves that radiate from the spinal cord. When these “shock absorbers” are damaged, the pain from “pinched” nerves is referred to different parts of the body – depending on the location of the disk.
Poses that relax and strengthen the body’s core are essential to keeping the back flexible and strong, as well as preventing injuries. Although Yogic exercise can be useful for managing discomfort caused by ruptured disks and other damage to spine, special care should be taken to ensure that poses are appropriate for existing conditions and not likely to exacerbate back problems. Several kinds of Yoga training tend to be safer when it comes to injuries, but circumstances differ for each individual.
Yoga For Back Injuries
Iyengar Yoga uses props, such as blocks or belts, in order to adapt traditional poses to compensate for injuries or disabilities. This style focuses on proper alignment and well-defined, deliberate movements.
Viniyoga is individually adapted to suit every participant. Gently flowing movements and specific modifications make it a good choice for neck and back injuries.
Therapeutic Hatha Yoga generally includes slow breathing, gentle stretching, and basic poses appropriate for beginners or people with injuries.
Restorative Yoga uses many props like Iyengar, and in most cases can trace its roots of origin to Iyengar. However, this contemporary offspring is more apt to tailor the practice toward the individual student. Precise alignment is replaced by the best possible alignment.
Exercises appropriate for back injuries are not limited to these four kinds of Yoga. Regardless of the style chosen, it is important to work with an experienced Yoga teacher who is aware of individual medical challenges or injuries. With the proper assistance, traditional poses can be adapted to fit almost any need.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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