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  • Writer's pictureSammi @ Unwind

How Yoga Helps With Back Pain

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

When you’re in pain the last thing you may want to do, is exercise.

However, yoga is in fact a good way to stretch your body, and strengthen your muscles at a slow, mindful pace.

So how exactly does yoga help relieve back pain?

What is yoga?

Yoga is a mind-body practice, which combines, breathing and meditation with poses that aim to stretch and strengthen the body (Pandey, 2021).

Now, there are MANY types of yoga, varying from intense and fast-moving yoga, to relaxing and gentle yoga.

Here at Unwind Yoga Studio our classes edge more towards the gentle side of the spectrum. We believe being more mindful and attentive towards our mind and body is a kinder way of treating ourselves when we are in a heavy place mentally or are in discomfort physically. Slowing our day down helps us take the moment in for what it is!

So, in the case of doing yoga to relieve back pain, it is VITAL that you listen to your body and do not over exert it.

Yoga is a practice that emphasises the need to take each yoga session at your own pace, there is no need to perfect the poses or stretches from the get go. Don’t get me wrong, you can strive to do that over time, but you must ease your body into it without hurting yourself.

Alternative ways of holding a pose will be shown by your instructor, as their aim is to make sure you feel good in each pose.

How does yoga help back pain?

Back pain can be caused by bad posture. Yoga can help improve your posture and make you more aware of how you are sitting or walking in your day-to-day life, due to the practice teaching you how to pay more attention to the presence of your body (Ackerman et al., 2022). Providing you with the opportunity to consciously change your posture for the better.

Your back and spine are also supported by muscles, when these muscles are strengthened and stretched, you guessed it: back pain can be soothed (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018).

You see, the yoga poses that help strengthen and stretch your muscles, also target your spine, back, and abdominal muscles (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018). Respectively known for helping your spine bend, stabilising the vertebrae that make up your spine, and stabilising your spine. Overall, improving the function of these 3 types of muscles helps soothe the pain your back is enduring.

You are probably thinking, well it’s all good and well telling me this information, but where is the up-to-date evidence to support this?

Let's dive in, shall we?

Research has shown that people’s quality of life is massively reduced due to chronic low back pain: mentally, physically, socially, financially, and in functionality (Poojari et al., 2022).

For example, it was found that 25% of patients with chronic back pain were depressed (Asrar et al., 2021).

So, it has been and is evident that there is a need for an intervention to improve these people’s lives.

Many researchers agreed, which resulted in numerous studies being conducted on yoga and its effects on patients with back pain. All studies showed that yoga could be used as another helping hand for these people, and there are many relevant studies: Cherkin et al., 2016; Saper et al., 2017; Tilbrook et al., 2011; Wieland et al., 2017; Qaseem et al., 2017.

An example, of a yoga intervention is: Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy, which comprises the 3 levels within yoga:

  1. Body level, also known as Annamaya Kosa, refers to loosening stretches and postures

  2. Energy level, known as Pranamaya Kosa, refers to the life force within living organisms

  3. Mind level, known as Manomaya Kosa, which refers to relaxation techniques and meditation used i