Back pain, especially lower backache, has reached epidemic proportions due to lifestyle changes. Yoga is used widely to relieve victims of this self-limiting affliction.
Though backache was earlier associated with an aging body, it has begun afflicting younger generations. There are several reasons for this: lack of exercise or even mismanaged exercise, a sedentary work-style, sedentary forms of entertainment, lack of ergonomic furniture where one is required to use them for long hours, use of household gadgets which restrict or deny the body its natural and full range of motion, high stress levels which contract key postural muscles and lack of repairing nutrients in one's diet, such as vitamins C, E or magnesium.
Though lower backache is largely due to spinal degeneration, certain yoga schools subscribe to the view that stress also contributes to its manifestation. The large muscle band at the back, called psoas, becomes contracted in reaction to extreme negativities such as fear or anger.
If physical examination, including an X-ray, establishes no known cause for chronic backache, it is safe to assume psychosomatic triggers. In such cases, resorting to yogic practices will offer immense relief. But even where the triggers are physical, yogic exercises form part of a holistic therapy. In fact, most exercises in your physio-therapy, as advised by your spinal expert, will also definitely be yoga-based.
Lower backache can be more stubborn to heal than upper or middle back pain. But it responds just as well to therapy. However, unlike with other areas, the problem must be clearly identified by a spinal expert and an individualised therapy be drawn. Self-diagnosis or joining a general yoga class when the pain is acute can be counter-productive, by acerbating the existing problem.
Shameem Akthar, yoga acharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, takes you through five yoga poses used to heal lower backache.
Text: Shameem Akthar
Also read: Breathe easy with yoga
Photographs: Saisuresh Sivaswamy
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com