Yoga offers numerous physical, mental and spiritual benefits. It increases flexibility and improves athletic performance, increases muscle strength and tone, and improves energy. It also decreases stress and anxiety. Overall, it improves its practitioners’ quality of life. But did you know that it can also improve your posture, and therefore reduce and prevent back and neck pain?
Posture is something that we rarely think about, and yet it has an enormous impact on our overall wellbeing. Good posture has a subconscious impact that boosts mood and confidence. Physically, it keeps the spine in proper alignment, and that decreases the risk of injury and pain.
Back or neck pain is one of the first signs that your posture is bad, and it’s also the one that’s most important because if you ignore it, it leads to additional maladies such as headache and joint problems. As soon as you associate pain with posture, you need to take steps to fix it, and yoga offers one of the simplest ways to do so.
We have an unfortunate tendency to respond to pain with inaction, when the right movement and exercise will actually resolve it quickly. Yoga offers a way to exercise even when you’re finding mobility difficult or painful, and while doing it you can retrain your muscles into better habits and patterns.
Here are a few yoga exercises and practices that you can work on for yourself that may help to ease back pain.
Standing Mountain Pose
When standing, your feet’s outer edges should be parallel, knees unlocked and pelvis placed immediately above the legs. Your hips should not be tilted forwards or backwards so that somebody standing to the side of you could draw a straight line from your ear, straight down through your shoulder and hip down to the knee and ankle.
Practicing this type of relaxed, well-balanced standing reduces stress on the spinal column.
Yoga incorporates both standing and seated forward bends that need to be performed properly. Bending forward safely means that you bend from the hip joint instead of from the lumbar spine, which often happens when hamstrings are too tight. Too much bending from the lumbar spine results in destabilization of the discs in the spine.
If you can’t bend by hinging at the hips, try bending the knees while standing, or sitting on a pillow when seated. Both will help protect the lower back and allow you to practice exercises that will lengthen the hamstrings.
Learning to Relax the Spine and Muscles
By using props while lying in a prone position, you can teach the body to release tension in large muscles like the shoulders and pecs. Try placing items between your shoulders so that they more easily roll back, opening the chest and lengthening the neck. The goal is to return the body to its natural state.
If these variations on basic yoga exercises don’t provide relief, your problem may need attention from our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey.