Do you or someone you know suffer from lower back pain? It is said that as many as 80% of adults will suffer from back pain at some point in their adult life. Whether this brought on by an injury or appears apparently out of the blue, yoga and its sister science of Ayurveda can help you to overcome even the most chronic of back pain without costing a fortune.
A regular yoga practice not only helps maintain a healthy spine, but improves muscle tone, posture, proprioception and helps relax the central nervous system. All of which can relieve symptoms of chronic back pain. As little as 5 minutes a day can have a profound effect on pain.
While back pain is of course a physical sensation, it’s important to realise that the physical body is just one part of the over self. Yoga meaning union bridges the gap between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self. Poses such as cat/cow, pigeon pose, tadasana, apanasana and balasana when practiced with the breath, paying attention to how the body feels and moves are very beneficial for people suffering from lumbar pain
Ayurveda the world oldest, most holistic medicine system, which has its roots in the same Vedic texts as yoga, looks at pain as a symptom of aggravated Vata in the body. Vata, made up of the elements air and ether, is responsible for movement all movement in the body. People suffering back pain usually find certain basic movements very difficult and painful. Other symptoms of aggravated or deranged Vata include anxiety, constipation and sleeplessness, all of which are common complaints made by people suffering back ache.
As stated above, the Vata Dosha is composed of the elements air and ether making it cold and dry, to soothe deranged Vata, bring the body back into balance and find relief from back pain we must ensure the body is adequately hydrated. Dehydration can lead to constipation which leads to a tightening of muscles in the pelvic region (the headquarters of the Vata Dosha) further aggravating the back. Muscles, joints and spinal discs also need sufficient hydration to be able to move freely and painlessly.
To balance Vata we need to nourish the body with warm, moist, fresh food and try to avoid dry, raw, cold and processed foods. Warming spices such as ginger, cumin, cinnamon and black pepper can be added to food to increase warmth and digestibility of the food. Healthy fats, such as ghee (clarified butter) are also vital to nourish tissue and keep the body lubricated.
Excessive movement, travel, anxiety and lack of sleep will also aggravate the pain and the Vata Dosha, while this can feel like a vicious circle with one thing leading to another, establishing a good morning and evening routine will help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. Five minutes meditation in the morning helps to focus the mind, while daily abhyanga (self-massage) grounds the mind and slows and warms the body. Warm milk with nutmeg and spices relaxed the body, relieves pain and helps induce restful, healing sleep.
Incorporating the above-mentioned habits alongside a gentle yoga asana (posture) and pranayama (breathwork) practice will greatly improve back and other Vata related conditions.