Practising yoga consistently under the guidance of a trained and a qualified teacher can be extremely rewarding. Yoga has the potential to purify your mind, to keep you physically fit, and to equip you with energy to keep you going in this crazy, fast-paced world. Yoga in the form of yogasanas or yoga postures and pranayama or yogic breathing techniques can not only help you stay fit, but researchers have started to examine their therapeutic impact on various medical conditions as well. In fact, research studies have started to show that pranayama can have positive impact on anxiety and stress-related disorders. In this article, we will specifically focus on whether yoga, through its various forms, can help improve one’s spinal health.
Spinal-related issues, including back and low-back pain, have been a cause of many peoples’ worry. One cannot undermine the importance of having a healthy spine. While spinal injuries can be serious in nature, they also hinder human beings from performing their most routine and basic day-to-day activities with ease. While there are yoga exercises that are aimed at healing spinal injuries or improving one’s spinal health in general, in this article, we will attempt to examine what research studies talk about the therapeutic aspects of yoga in improving one’s spinal health.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a part of the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, states that research studies have showcased that yoga can be beneficial for people with low-back pain. In 2009, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), again a part of the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, funded research activities to examine the impact of Iyengar yoga, a form of Hatha yoga, on chronic low-back pain. Studies revealed that yoga reduced functional disability, depression, as well as pain in people (research participants) suffering from chronic low-back pain.
Further, research studies funded by NCCAM in 2011 revealed that yoga, primarily Viniyoga, was effective in decreasing the symptoms of chronic low back pain, and that it was a better alternative to using a self-care book designed for low-back pain patients. However, the research studies also revealed that yoga was not as effective as the conventional stretching exercises, which yielded more long-lasting benefits.
Research published in 2013 in The Clinical Journal of Pain claimed that there was a strong evidence which suggested that yoga therapy was effective on people (research participants) with chronic low-back pain. The research study stated that yoga therapy demonstrated both short-term as well as long-term effectiveness. The research studied the impact of Hatha Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Viniyoga, and some yoga postures not following any particular style on patients suffering from chronic lower back pain.
Research studies have started to suggest that various forms of yoga can have a positive impact on reducing back or low-back pain, and improving spinal health in general. It may be a good idea to start practising yoga to improve not just your spinal health, but your overall mental and physical health. We recommend that you begin with the basics of yoga before proceeding to advanced levels. The most crucial point to state here is that be it basic or advanced yoga, ensure to practise yoga only under the guidance of a well-qualified yoga teacher. And if you are a patient with back pain, tailbone trauma, or any other form of spinal injury, be sure to discuss with your medical practitioner before you choose to practice yoga. Also, if your medical practitioner permits you to take up yoga as additional therapy, ensure that you discuss with your yoga teacher in detail about your symptoms and health issues you are facing.
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Cramer, Holger, et al. “A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for low back pain.” The Clinical journal of pain 29.5 (2013): 450-460.
Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Wellman RD, et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med.2011;171(22):2019-2026. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.524.