Yoga is often suggested to help with lower back pain. We’re so convinced we just released a show dedicated to this goal. But why it helps is contextual and dependent on the exact causes. Here are 5 of the ways it works.
Pain is often the result of lack of movement rather than because of it. Just like our most painful relationships are the ones where communication is shut off, the areas of our body that hurt the most are the ones we don’t or can’t move.
Many of us make our living sitting all day long. Sitting negates the need for strength and flexibility in the lower back and therefore we lose those vital capabilities. Habit forms so quickly and the habit of not moving is self fulfilling. Showing up and starting to break the cycle is the hardest part. But when we do show up and make the effort towards a change, the return on investment is exponential.
When our pet dogs and cats need us, they whimper or meow. Pain is one of the amazing ways our bodies try to get our attention and let us know there is a problem. Most likely you have experienced the results of not paying attention to pain. It either gets much worse, or eventually shuts down and finds another way to connect through illness or disease.
One of the primary skills in a yoga practice is lovingly focusing our attention, usually with the help of the breath. We all know the feeling of when someone is paying positive attention to us. If you don’t you can read about how plants respond to positive affirmation. We, like the plants, perk up. We feel more vital, wanted, and even loved. When we start to pay attention to our lower back pain with a quality of love and interest, our low back will start to feel better and guide us towards a path of recovery.
While yoga has more of a reputation for improving flexibility, there is equal strength building within the practice. Strengthening the small muscles around the spine, around the hips, in the glutes, and the abdominals will provide support and structure for the low back to release some of its grip.
As we strengthen the areas around the low back and the grip can soften, then we can start to explore the magic of flexion, extension, and twists. We establish a new range of motion that allows us a freedom and ease that we had forgotten about.
Across most spiritual traditions, a feeling of separateness and isolation is the primary root of our pain. Through the focus of our attention, breath, and movement, we reestablish a relationship with ourselves, resulting in a deep and profound sense of relief, including in the low back.