As a yoga teacher, there’s a phrase I’ll often hear: “I can’t come to yoga – my back’s hurting”.
And it breaks my heart a little every time I hear it, because yoga can help!
Now, I’m not suggesting that you should force yourself to class and onto a yoga mat if you’re in acute pain and you’re crying out every time you move, or you’ve just had an operation on your back and you’re in recovery.
But most of the time when we’re experiencing back pain, spasms, niggles, aches and so on, yoga WILL help.
The #1 best way to look after your back
Whether it’s prevention or cure you’re looking for, the #1 most important thing to do to look after your back is …keep moving!
Doctors used to recommend bed rest for any type of back pain but now the NHS recommends “stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities – this is one of the most important things you can do, as resting for long periods is likely to make the pain worse”.
…because if you don’t, the muscles of the back and core get even weaker and muscles which are over-compensating to try and protect the irritated area get tight, both of which which makes the problem worse.
The NHS recommends stretches, walking, swimming … and yoga
Be reassured that the majority of back pain isn’t structural* – i.e. there’s no damage to the spine. A combination of years of poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle, bending or lifting awkwardly, and years of tension can lead to a sudden episode of back pain or that niggly, ongoing feeling of stiffness and tension.
And it’s also reassuring to remember that the human back is strong.
Your spine is a wonderful piece of engineering. It performs amazing feats of agility and balance – every day. Think about a forward bend and the weight of your head and brain moving forward and over and then back up again – your back is strong to allow that forward bend to happen in a controlled and graceful way.
You don’t have to worry about damaging your back. It heals, it balances itself. Most back pain is due to tension and simple muscle sprains.
Most cases of back pain get better on their own and there’s no need to see your doctor* (although you may like to consider osteopathic or chiropractic treatment).
Be reassured there’s SO much you can do to help yourself if you experience back discomfort.
The role of yoga
Yoga plays an important role in helping you to a healthier back.
And Dru Yoga is is particularly effective for bad backs as it targets the muscles which may be weak or tight, and gently stretches and strengthens them, relieving pain, and improving flexibility and tone.
Good posture – essential for a happy, healthy back. Yoga brings our awareness onto our posture and good posture slowly starts to develop and it becomes natural to attend to it each and every day.
Movement – the spine and back is made up of many and diverse moving parts. Your back is designed to move. So move it! And think of the elements connecting to your back – your hips and shoulders. If they’re tight it has a knock-on effect, forcing too much mobility into your spine and spinal muscles. Yoga stretches tight areas and strengthens weak ones, helping to develop and maintain physical flexibility.
Strength – if your core muscles are weak (lower abs, lower back muscles and pelvic floor) your spine quickly goes out of optimal alignment. Yoga focuses on a strong and healthy core set of muscles. Watch this free Dru Yoga video explaining the core and how to activate it.
Breathing – don’t underestimate the power of your breath! Breathing well enables your body to absorb oxygen into your cells and release toxins – essential for good health. And deep breathing is good for the back as your spine moves with the expansion and contraction of the inhale and exhale. And it also encourages your body and mind to relax.
Relaxation – if you’re constantly stressed or anxious then muscle tension will be an issue. The deep, mindful breathing of yoga activates the body’s relaxation response. It helps you to let go of muscle tension and enables your body to heal and renew itself.
Living in the here and now – Yoga encourages us to ‘Be Here. Now’. To appreciate and live in the present moment and not to linger in the past or worry about the future. Maintaining a positive outlook and daily taking steps to improve your back’s health will lead to quicker recovery.
So, take your wellbeing into your own hands and get moving to care for your back, and find a renewed sense of freedom and ease … in body AND mind.
* If your back pain is accompanied by any of these ‘red flag’ symptoms then seek medical assistance immediately.
- fever of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or above
- unexplained weight loss
- swelling in the back
- constant back pain that doesn’t ease after lying down
- pain in your chest or high up in your back
- pain down your legs and below the knees
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- inability to pass urine
- numbness around your genitals, buttocks or back passage
- pain that is worse at night
Yoga for Back Care 5 Week Course
Tuesdays 7 November-12 December, 7-8.15pm
Bishopstoke Methodist Church, Sedgwick Road, Bishopstoke, Eastleigh, SO50 6FH
£59 for the course of 5 classes + support materials
“My back pain was always reduced after each session.
Loved the focus, affirmations and being part of a group with similar goals”
“A good range of exercises taught so you’re able to pick and choose
which are most effective.”
This Dru Yoga for Back Care Course includes gentle movements to strengthen core muscles and ease out tight areas; breathing techniques and relaxation to release tension; and it will help you to develop awareness of your posture so you can address poor postural habits.
Let me share with you simple, effective techniques which will empower you to care for your back.
You’ll also learn how to breathe effectively and experience the important role of relaxation in helping your body and mind to release tension.
7-8.15pm, five Tuesdays (spread over 6 weeks, NOTE: there is no session on 28 November):
- 7 November 2017
- 14 November
- 21 November
- 5 December
- 12 December
Location: Bishopstoke Methodist Church, Sedgwick Road, Bishopstoke, Eastleigh, SO50 6FH. Google maps link. Free parking on site.
In addition, you will receive:
- a full-colour guide to the movements included in the course each week so you can practise at home;
- advice on what to practise at home;
- mp3 audios of the guided relaxations so you can listen at home;
- email support throughout the course.
Places are limited to 10 attendees so the group is small and friendly and informal and I can give you individual attention if required.
Please bring your own yoga mat if you have one. I will also have mats available to borrow.
Any questions? Drop me a line via my contact form or email me at stella@livingyogawithstell
- You are ready to take proactive, positive steps to care for your back.
- You believe that you CAN feel better (never underestimate the mind/body connection!).
- You’re willing and able to make time to practise some of the movements you learn between classes and as an ongoing practice for the longer term to keep your back feeling strong and supple.
- You can get up and down off the floor unassisted.
NOTE: If you have a diagnosed condition affecting your back; your back pain has recently got worse; you’ve been experiencing issues for a long time; or have any other medical condition which may affect your ability to practise gentle yoga, then please consult your GP before booking.
No prior experience of yoga is necessary.