Back pain often makes even the most basic activities painful, and can quickly suck the joy out of life. Sitting, standing, and lying down, can hurt when the back is out of balance. There is hope for those suffering from back pain, and it is found in daily Yoga practice.
The vast majority of individuals think of the back all by itself without taking the total system of the body into consideration. The back does not exist within a vacuum, and the strength of the entire body has a real, measurable impact on the health of the back. With this said, back health is most strongly tied to the strength and health of the core muscles of the body. A strong, healthy core automatically equals a strong, healthy back and spine.
When we think of the core, we usually think only of the abdominals, but core muscles are also located in the sides and back as well. The core cradles and supports the bones of the back, and bones cannot be brought out of alignment easily, when strong muscles support them. Bones were not meant to bear the weight of the entire body alone, and should instead work in conjunction with the muscles.
Obesity also has a strong impact on the health of the back for a few different reasons. First, those who are obese tend to be in poorer physical shape than those who are closer to a proper weight. Second, the extra weight puts undue strain and pressure on the back, which then pulls the bones out of alignment. A back that is out of alignment encourages slouching and improper posture, since these shifts in position tend to provide temporary relief from the pain and pressure in the back. Chronic slouching then leads to more problems with alignment. It's a vicious cycle!
More and more jobs require hours of sitting, which provides ample opportunity for individuals to develop back problems. Back pain may be corrected and countered through exercise, and yoga is the best choice for this. Running, walking and jogging are acceptable forms of exercise, but yoga practice provides greater strengthening of the core, which in turn eases back pain considerably. Running, for example, can be fantastic cardiovascular exercise, but there is actually a very small range of motion during running. The muscles of the core may be strengthened somewhat, but they won't be stretched and worked as efficiently as they would be by the proper yoga poses.
Some of the best poses for easing back pain are Downward Facing Dog, Cat Cow, Bridge Pose, Wheel Pose, Plow Pose, Angle Pose and Triangle Pose. It is wise to start with the most basic and work up to the more advanced poses once the muscles have gained some strength.
Slow and steady is best, and always remain mindful of the body. Back pain is often caused by a lack of attention, so it is only fitting that it be corrected by doing the opposite. Giving the back the utmost attention and focus during the strengthening process will enable individuals to become more aware of their bodies, and this awareness will increase the effectiveness of yoga practice overall. Knowing the difference between a pain that should be worked through and a pain that is the body's signal to stop is very valuable.
Posture will automatically be corrected by strengthening the core, without much conscious thought at all. With a powerful set of muscles holding the back erect, it is not hard or painful to sit with perfect posture. It is easy to distinguish those who practice yoga from those who don't by their beautiful, correct postures.
If you are one of the many who suffer from back pain, consider taking up daily yoga practice. It is healthy, enriching and can actually eliminate the underlying source of back pain. For those without back pain, what could be better than prevention? A strong, powerful core is a benefit for anyone.
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