Yoga for Back Pain
Backache is one of the most common problem today. The most common site of backache is the lower back followed by the neck and region between the shoulder blades. The pain arises when the the muscles surrounding and supporting spinal column are held rigidly and uncomfortably contracted over a period of time. This situation arises due to long sitting position or due to bad posture.
Causes of backache: The main causes of backpain are:
- Sitting or walking in wrong posture.
- Sedentary lifestyler.
- Lack of nutrients.
- Muscular weakness.
- Defect in spinal cord.
- Sleeping on too soft bed.
- Lifting heavy weights.
- Wearing high heels
- Lack of exercise.
In case of acute backache, lay on bed as soon as possible. By immediately getting into bed the body demands are reduced and the muscles can relax a little. Application of heat to the effected area by fomentation or hot water bottle brings relief. To avoid stiffness gradually move in the lying position on the bed. Also, relief may be gained by applying a cold compress (ice blocks in a cloth) and some patients get best relief from alternating hot and cold compress every few minutes. Gentle massage several times a day also brings recovery.
Yoga Asana for Backache
These asanas are specially designed to increase functional efficiency of the various groups responsible for back pain.
- Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs straight, feet together and the soles of the feet uppermost.
- Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor, below and slightly to the side of the shoulders, with the fingers together and pointing forward.
- Position the arms so that the elbows point backward and are close to the sides of the body.
- Rest the forehead on the floor.
- Inhale and slowly raise the head.
- Gently tilt the head backward, so that the chin points forward and the back of the neck is compressed, then raise the neck and then the shoulders.
- Straighten the elbows, using the back muscles first, then the arm muscles to raise the trunk further and arch the back.
- In the final position, the pubic bone remains in contact with the floor and the navel is raised a maximum of 3 cm. Hold the breath.
- Hold the final position for few seconds.
- Exhale and return to the starting position by slowly releasing the upper back by bending the arms, lowering the navel, chest, shoulders and finally the forehead to the floor.
- Practise up to 5 rounds, gradually increasing the length of time in the final position.
- TiryakaBhujangasana (twisting cobra pose)
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs separated about half a metre. The toes should be tucked under and the heels raised so that the foot rests on the ball of the foot.
- Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor, below and slightly to the side of the shoulders.
- The fingers should be together and pointing forward. The arms should be positioned so that the elbows point backward and are close to the sides of the body.
- Rest the forehead on the floor.
- Inhale and slowly raise the head, neck and shoulders.
- Straightening the elbows, raise the trunk as high as comfortable. Use the back muscles more than the arm muscles.
- The head should be facing forward.
- Exhale and twist the head and upper portion of the trunk, and look over the left shoulder.
- Gaze at the heel of the right foot.
- In the final position, the arms remain straight or slightly bent as the shoulders and trunk are twisted. /li>
- Relax the back and keep the navel close to the floor.
- Inhale and face forward again,exhale and repeat the twist on the other side without lowering the trunk.
- Inhale and return to the centre and lower the body to the floor.
- This is one round.
- Practise 5 rounds.
- ArdhaShalabhasana (half locust pose)
- Lie flat on the stomach with the hands under the thighs, palms downwards or hands clenched.
- Keep both the legs straight throughout the practice.
- Place the chin on the floor, slightly stretched forward, to give the best possible stretch to the neck muscles and nerves.
- Using the back muscles, inhale and raise the right leg as high as possible, keeping the other leg straight, relaxed and in contact with the floor.
- Retain the breath and hold the position.
- Exhale and lower the leg to the floor.
- Repeat the same movement with the left leg.
- Kandharasana (shoulder pose)
- Lie flat on the back.
- Bend the knees, placing the soles of the feet flat on the floor with the heels touching the buttocks.
- The feet and knees may be hip width apart.
- Grasp the ankles with the hands.
- Inhale and raise the buttocks and arch the back upward.
- Raise the chest and navel as high as possible without straining, pushing the chest up towards the chin and head, but without moving the position of the feet or shoulders.
- Keep the feet flat on the floor.
- In the final position, the body is supported by the head, neck, shoulders, arms and feet.
- Retain the breath and hold the pose for as long as is comfortable and then exhale and lower the body to the starting position.
- Practise 5 to 10 rounds.
- Ushtrasana (camel pose)
- Sit in vajrasana.
- Stand on the knees with the arms at the sides.
- The knees and feet should be together, but may be separated if this is more comfortable.
- Lean backward, slowly reaching for the right heel with the right hand and then the left heel with the left hand.
- Do not strain.
- Push the hips forward, keeping the thighs vertical, and bend the head and spine backward as far as is comfortable.
- The weight of the body should be evenly supported by the legs and arms.
- The arms should anchor the shoulders to maintain the arch of the back.
- Remain in the final position for as long as is comfortable and breathe normal.
- Return to the starting position by slowly releasing the hands from the heels one at a time.
- Makarasana (crocodile pose)
- Lie flat on the stomach.
- Raise the head and shoulders and rest the chin in the palms of the hands with the elbows on the floor.
- Keep the elbows together for a more pronounced arch to the spine. Separate the elbows slightly to relieve excess pressure on the neck.
- In makarasana the effect is felt at two points: the neck and the lower back. If the elbows are too far in front, tension will be felt in the neck; if they are drawn too close to the chest, tension will be felt more in the lower back. Adjust the position of the elbows so that these two points are equally balanced. The ideal position is when the whole spine is equally relaxed.
- Relax the whole body.
- Now after some time gently and smoothly release the posture.
- Markatasana (spinal twist)
- Lie flat on your back, join toes and heel together.
- Breath normal.
- Bend knees to place the heels closest to your buttocks.
- Keep both feet resting on the floor.
- Place both hands straight with palms facing upward lying on floor and parallel to the shoulders.
- keeping your knees joint together, bend both knees to touch the ground on right side. (left knee will be above the right knee).
- Keep the neck to the opposite (left) side.
- Remain in this position as long as it is comfortable.
- Exhale to come back to starting point.
- Repeat this process to the other (left) side.
- Practice between5 to 10 rounds.