Back pain is nuanced – it can come and go, it can “flare up” for seemingly no reason, or it’s a constant ache that never seems to go away. Beyond physical pain, back pain can also cause emotional distress, feeling like you can’t do normal everyday activities. The fear and worry associated with unpredictable back pain can be debilitating. Yoga therapy for low back pain is one treatment option that might help you find relief.
How can yoga therapy help with low back pain? In my experience working with private clients and yoga students, yoga therapy helps address chronic low back pain in three ways.
Yoga therapy encourages balance in the muscles that support the spine.
A yoga therapist can work with you to develop a yoga practice that includes postures that strengthen weak muscles and stretch tight muscles, not only in the back but the entire core body including the hips.
Practiced over the long term, postures can also affect change in fascial structures (connective tissues) and release holding patterns in the body.
Yoga therapy teaches body awareness so you can better recognize any movements that aggravate pain.
Yoga postures typically work across the entire body which can help reinforce the brain-body connection. The result is a more embodied experience and a better awareness of potential pain triggers.
More body awareness can help you become aware of your body’s habitual holding patterns and movement patterns that could aggravate painful conditions.
Yoga therapy includes breathing techniques that encourage relaxation.
The Yoga Therapy Process
As a yoga therapist, I’m trained in contraindications for many conditions. That means that I develop a yoga practice just for you that focuses on postures and breathing techniques that will help you accomplish your goals, while keeping in mind any movements that might aggravate your condition. This is different than going to a group yoga class where you may or may not get the individual attention you need.
I work with people who have many conditions that cause low back pain, including:
- herniated disc
- bulging disc
- spinal stenosis
- spinal arthritis
- non-specific low back pain
- S.I. (sacroiliac) join instability or dysfunction
Yoga therapy requires an initial consultation and follow-up sessions. It also requires you to do the practices. Much of the work happens outside of sessions.
The intake session is up to 90 minutes in duration. This gives time to have a discussion with me and for you to share your goals and the specifics of your health condition. I develop a plan for you for the next session. During follow-up sessions, I share practices and check in with you to see if any modifications need to be made. My goal is for you to learn the practices so you have the tools you need to help manage your low back pain.
If at any time I feel that yoga therapy is not a good fit, I will refer out to other practitioners or medical professionals.
Are you a yoga teacher looking for CEU course options?
If you’re looking for guidance on how to teach general population group yoga classes while making accommodations for people with back pain, check out this CEU course on our online learning platform, Yoga Asana for Back Health. Learn how to modify postures for students with common back pathologies.