By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
As teachers, each of us learned the differences of main Yoga styles before we began teaching. At every Yoga teacher training, it should be noted that these differences can help, or hurt, one’s back. Therapeutic, restorative, and gentle Yoga are labels that give students assurance that you care for their wellbeing.
If a student has a pre-existing back injury, he or she should seek out a therapeutic Yoga class that is gentle and taught by a compassionate teacher. A student, with a pre-existing back injury, is playing with a “time bomb” in a vigorous style, run by a drill sergeant, with no clue about precautions, modifications, or compassion.
Eliminating back pain is one of the greatest reasons why people choose to practice Hatha Yoga. Yoga can truly serve as a therapeutic exercise in relieving tension and stress from the back muscles. There are all sorts of Yoga poses that one can learn, which will help eliminate or reduce back pain. Before practicing Yoga poses, new students should seek professional guidance, do diligent research, and perform a proper warm-up before practicing the following postures.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
First, one of the most common Yoga poses (asanas) to learn is the pelvic tilt (Bridge Pose). The pelvic tilt will help a person to build strength in the lower abdomen, so that stress is relieved from the upper back muscles. In addition, a pelvic tilt will help a person to develop stronger support in the lower and middle back region, as well as the sacroiliac joint. This is one of the foundational Hatha Yoga poses that is great for any person, who has suffered from back problems, as a result of poor posture.
To start, a person will lay on the floor with his or her knees bent. Then, a person needs to exhale and slowly lift his or her pelvis to the air. As one is lifting the pelvis toward the air, a person needs to exhale to release the stress of the movement. While doing this exercise, it is recommended that a person try to be aware of how the tension feels in the hip joints and any pain that may be created. A person should try to do this exercise slowly, and with knees at hip-width apart.
The standing forward bend is another popular Yoga posture for reducing and eliminating back pain. The key with this therapeutic Yoga exercise is to remember to bend at the hips. A person needs to slowly raise his or her arms to the sky and then reach forward.
One should let gravity do the work, and cautiously reach toward the ground, without pain. One should remember to bend the knees or use Yoga props if his or her leg and back muscles are not flexible enough to support this sort of Yoga pose.
The triangle pose is a more complex type of Yoga posture, which works powerfully to eliminate back pain. This pose entails leaning to the side, and then raising one’s arm up to the sky. A student could use a Yoga block to balance his or her arm on the other side. A student should also try to bend at the hip joint when doing this exercise. The many therapeutic benefits of Trikonasa variations for the spine, back, hips, internal organs, and emotional health are worthy of a book. Trikonasa encompasses a family of similar asanas, when you consider the variations in styles, revolved triangles, gate variations, and side angle variations.
Overall, these are some of the best Yoga postures a person can do for eliminating back pain. However, each student is a different person, with unique problems. Consultation with one’s family physician should be recommended, at all times, prior to entering a therapeutic Yoga practice for back pain.
Yoga teachers should have systems in place to know who has pre-existing back problems. No student should be admitted without filling out an informed consent form. On this form, students help themselves, by reading that there are risks in Yoga practice, and by making the teacher aware of any health problems they have.
If a new student refuses to fill out the form and sign a release, this is not a problem. However, do not admit him or her to class. Our guarantee is that we will not put students at risk. If a new student is going to put you at risk of being accused of negligence; why would you admit him or her to your class?
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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