Yoga For A Healthy Back

by Monica Stoutenborough

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints and reason for physician visits in the United States. On average, health care spending for those with back pain has been estimated to be around 60% higher than those without back pain. There can be a wide variety of causes including prolonged periods of standing, sitting at a desk, holding small children, repetitive daily movements at work or prolonged stress & anxiety.

How can yoga help you with this? Did you know that stretching the hamstring muscles helps decrease stress across the low back? Stretching also increases blood flow, allowing more nutrients to reach muscles and tissues in the back. You probably already knew that yoga can help increase flexibility, but many are unaware of how much it strengthens muscles. Many postures strengthen back and abdomen muscles, which help you maintain proper posture throughout the day, consequently reducing back pain.

Yoga poses also results in stretching and strengthening muscles on both sides of the body equally, helping to reverse imbalances that may develop due to repetitive motions such as driving a stick shift all day.

So we’ve looked at the more obvious benefits of the physical yoga practice, however there are other components to yoga. When you take a yoga class with a qualified instructor they will encourage you to notice patterns and habits that you were never aware of. For example, you may not notice that you tend to let your shoulders creep up towards your ears and hold on to tension in that area. This increased awareness you develop during class will show up outside of class as well, helping you to let go of the habits that can contribute to back pain.

Lastly, yoga and meditation have been shown to help reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness and contentment. When you learn to focus on breathing and relaxing, you can implement this on your own at home. Reduction of stress and anxiety have been shown to help relieve chronic pains of various types. Never underestimate the power of your thoughts and mental state. See you in a yoga class soon!

Monica Stoutenborough is owner of PuraVegan Cafe & Yoga. All weekly yoga classes at PuraVegan are offered by donation and are appropriate for all experience levels including beginners. Dr. Heidi Crocker, will be offering a 2 hour workshop on Yoga for a Healthy Back on November 2. You can sign-up for classes and workshops at www.PuraVegan.com.

You can also stop by our booth at the Healthy Planet Natural Living Expo, Oct. 20 at the Webster Groves Recreation Center, 10am to 4pm.