Yoga for back pain

Does Yoga Really Work for Back Pain? 

As the famous metaphor goes “No pain, no gain”, this may sound right for many as it explains one must go through pain in order to gain something! But to apply this metaphor to our yoga practices and our body! Really?? Does your body really need to go through pain in order for you to gain something physically? I wouldn’t want my body to go through this…

Understand that Yoga practices is to bring freedom to the body and mind, through asana practices, one gain freedom physically, gaining flexibility, elasticity of the muscles, hydrating the fascia, hence when the body is healthy, it frees us from illnesses. Only when we have a healthy body, can our mind be freed from disturbances, therefore, practising meditation can then be possible and available for us. 

One common saying I often hear from yoga practitioners is that they experience pain after their asana practices, not only they say “ No pain no gain” , they often think that they have not pushed themselves hard enough to their limits, hence they cannot achieve the pose! Our discussion today is to look at what are your limits? Is it true like the metaphor says “no pain no gain

What is pain? And what causes pain to the body?

You may have been told that experiencing pain after a yoga class is “normal”; or you may have even been told that is because “your core is weak”. Hence; you are experiencing the “good pain” and it is “Transforming “you!  So….no pain no gain?

But…. did we really think this is right?

What actually causes pain? In the practice of asana, we often push  or are told to push beyond our limits, this “overworks” creates a build-up of chemicals in the muscles, which causes the formation of tension or knots in the body, this commonly occurs in the back of our neck, shoulders area, our lower back and buttocks. Excessive of muscles puling and contracting will cram joints together, hence this increased compressions in those joints. This could happen as a result of over repetitive movements such as “108 Surya Namaskar”, wrong alignment or over-manipulation of the body in practising yoga asana. This is why when someone experiences pain, doctors often advise them to stop practising yoga, not because Yoga is causing injuries, but they have pushed themselves way too far, and causing injuries to the body. So, do you still think no pain no gain? I guess everything comes at a price then.

What should I do?

  • Increase awareness of breath, thoughts and postures. In any situation that causes increase of muscles tensions, notice that the breath is breathing, and make a consciously effort to breathe with your breath. Manage your thoughts and feelings in such a way as to release muscle tension, this will eventually decrease or release the pain you experience.
  • Develop the understanding of natural movements, like your breathing, they are mostly automatic, you are not required to think about it, same goes to your movement patterns, you cannot manipulate it, always work within your range of motions, work within your limits, remember, it is not always the more the better,  how much is enough? Know that less is more. Learn to listen to your body.
  • Like your normal, automatic breaths, but thinking about them will make them subtly different. Inhale slowly through your nose, exhale through your mouth or nose simultaneously think of releasing, relaxing, and letting go of the pain and tension.