Back pain is a common affliction that affects the majority of the population at some stage of their lives. Some of us may be predisposed to some conditions, though any of us are liable to adopt poor posture, or strain our backs through lifting or over exertion. The lower back is the most common area where people encounter problems, as this is the most likely area to be affected when we move in an awkward manner. There are conventional medications targeted at alleviating inflammation and pain, as well as surgical procedures to remedy more serious back ailments. Many people are however looking for non-invasive alternatives to these traditional approaches, and yoga is a discipline that is often cited as being beneficial.
Yoga is a discipline that has its roots in Indian spirituality and the tradition of meditation. It involves physical exercise combined with mental focus techniques including meditation, breathing techniques and poses or asanas. Asanas are designed to help us improve our posture, and are derived from meditation poses, and are therefore aimed at encouraging relaxation. Disciplined breathing is believed to unlock hidden energies in the body, and improve muscle flexibility and bone strength - as well as willpower and concentration.
Yoga develops flexibility and muscular endurance by allowing the muscles of the back to be stretched and strengthened. This is especially helpful in alleviating the stress and tension that builds up and can cause mild back pain. The muscles that support the spine actually need to be active to maintain their conditioning, so some exercise is usually beneficial for mild back pain – and can help prevent further injury. Hatha yoga is the most popular style of yoga, and is considered one of the original forms of yoga. It together with Iyengar yoga are most commonly used to treat back pain. Iyengar is especially suited to aiding back pain relief as it is concerned with very precise poses, which are especially beneficial for posture. It may also utilise additional supports or props such as belts or cushions.
It is advisable to carry out any program of yoga under the guidance of a certified instructor, as some postures and movements may actually aggravate an existing injury or condition.
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