yoga can help your backBy Angelena Craig

Back pain is he primary cause of great suffering and disability. It is said that there are yearly 70,000 visits to the doctor due to back pain. Is it true that yoga can help the back?

Yoga can reduce back pain and even heal it. Studies have shown that a regular yoga practice may be the very best remedy to keep the spine flexible and strong and the energy flowing through the nerves. Yoga is the least invasive and most cost effective of any of the recommended methods including chiropractory, acupuncture, drugs, or surgery. Of course it can be used in conjunction with any of the above methods.

The first thing to do is to have your back evaluated by a qualified physician or chiropractor. Back problems can include issues with the discs (herniated, slipped, degenerative), fatigue and pulls of the back muscles and ligaments, structural problems including curvature of the spine, osteoporosis, or the sciatic nerve being triggered. You may have other tight muscles such as in the hamstrings, hip flexors, periformis or the psoas muscle, in the shoulders or neck. All of these may contribute to your back ache.

Muscle pulls are the most common cause and may be caused by over stretching, or slowing down abruptly, abrupt changes in direction, colliding with another in a sport, falling, lifting, carrying a heavy bag on one side or from activities like gardening or shoveling snow. The good news is back aches from muscles pulls heal faster than any of the other ailments.

Mindfulness is called for when you start or restart a yoga practice. With so many choices of styles and intensity levels offered, you want to find a class that works for you. You may need to modify the postures to accommodate your own particular back issues. Always mention to the teacher if your back is aching or especially if the pain is in an acute stage. If it is too challenging to do a regular yoga class, try Chair Yoga which will give you the same benefits, but the a straight back chair can better support the back through the practice

Some modifications to your practice may include:

* avoiding seated forward bends or only coming forward into a straight back, rather than rounding.

* keeping your knees deeply bent when you practice down dog or standing forward bends.

* moving very carefully into any back bends such as the cobra or practicing spinal twists.

Of great importance to back health is to be aware of your posture as you sit at a desk, as you stand or walk. Learning the correct body alignment through yoga may be the thing that corrects your chronic back problem.

And finally, stress exacerbates most conditions, including back problems. Practicing Yoga is an excellent choice in reducing and eliminating the stress in our minds.

Angelena Craig is a professional level Kripalu Yoga Instructor with fifteen years of teaching experience. She was the founder of Beacon Light Yoga Center of Boston and has trained thousands of beginning and more experienced yoga students.

As a teaching consultant for the Massachusetts Department of Housing of Finance she created her Chair Yoga program primarily for Seniors. She then produced Chair Yoga DVD, “Angelena’s Yoga Using a Chair” to make this easy to follow program more accessible to anyone of any size, shape or fitness level in a format that can be used in the comfort of the home or the office.

In 2008 Angelena opened her new business The New Aging Movement, how to stay young while growing older. She offers private and group Yoga classes and Wellness workshops in Sarasota Florida and in the Boston area and each winter leads a yoga retreat to Jamaica, WI.