Our lifestyles are being taken over by devices, whether it’s a computer at work, TV watching, gaming on tablets, oh and if there was any time left at all – scrolling through social media feeds on the phone. That means more hours we spend sitting in a terrible slouched posture, often without a proper backrest and a firm desk and/or on a chair. It's not sitting for long hours that causes discomfort, but how you sit – the slumped posture, the forward head protrusion, and unconscious tightening of the shoulders – this for many hours, every day leads to problems like neck and lower back pain.
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that yoga is one of the most used Complementary and Alternative Medicine therapies (CAM). Further studies suggest that it offers multiple benefits, in contrast, to simply physical therapy.
Yoga for lower back pain specifically, works well due to the chronic nature of lower back pain. Chronic pain is not merely physical, it affects emotions and mood and thereby starts to affect work and relationships as well. Furthermore, chronic pain is abnormal and can persist long after the body has healed – the nerves continue to process pain and misfire pain signals. You are perceiving much greater pain. This is where yoga for the lower back and hips, along the with-it shoulder, neck – literally any area you tend to develop chronic pain makes a difference.
The physical postures can strengthen your back muscles and then gentle stretching relieves the tightness from it. Practicing yoga along with meditation can significantly reduce chronic pain, depression, and disabilities.
Yoga for any kind of body pain begins by first spending some time bringing awareness to the particular area. We spend some time self-massaging the area (we can use a small massage ball between the back and wall or floor). Bringing awareness to the sensations in that area whether it's pain, discomfort, or tightness.
Then we take some time in some loosening exercises – generating a little heat to warm up the concerned muscles and start to release tightness. Cat-cow stretch is the most popular and easy drill.
Then we can proceed to strengthen exercises – either postures or simple drills that can help in strengthening the muscles. Strength and muscle conditioning are often overlooked but are one of the most important steps in treating chronic pain. The simplest modifications of locust and cobra pose along with bridge pose can do wonders for your lower back strength.
We again take some time in stretching the muscles that have been loaded and conditioned. We can have gentle twists lying on the back and again some cat-cow stretching. All of this needs to be done with great care and awareness of the breath – since long relaxed breaths help the body relax and muscles release tension.
Finally, a few minutes dedicated to pranayama and a short guided meditation talking about suggesting healing positive thoughts towards the pain is the most perfect way to end the yoga practice.
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