A mind-body practice, Yoga combines physical poses called asanas, breathing exercises, and guided meditation in a session that is typically 75-minutes long. For many people, yoga is an effective way to reduce inflammation, relieve stress and muscle tension, and change habitual posture patterns that result in back pain.
While there are many styles of Yoga to choose from, Restorative Yoga is especially good for individuals with back pain because of its focus on supported poses rather than physical exertion through a sequence of poses. Restorative Yoga uses props - blocks, chairs, bars, cushions or blankets - to facilitate gentler movement of the body and proper alignment of joints and muscles. A Restorative Class makes yoga accessible to people with a wide range of physical challenges including arthritis, fibromyalgia, cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. When looking for a Restorative Class, ask about the instructor's certifications, as specialized training is necessary to teach classes for people experiencing chronic pain.
Recent studies conducted in the U.S.,
- Wieland, L.S., Koetz, N. Pilkington, K. et al., "Yoga treatment for chronic non-specific low back pain." Cochrane Library (Jan 2017) DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010671.pub2
- Sherman, K.J., Cherkin, D.C., et al., "A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain." Archives of Internal Medicine (2011) DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.524
- Brink, S. "Studies Show Yoga has Healing Powers" National Geographic Online. (2014). Accessed on 7 Feb 2017: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140207-yoga-cancer-inflammation-stress/
- Carey, T.S., "Comparative Effectiveness Studies in Chronic Low Back Pain: Comment on 'A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain'." Archives of Internal Medicine (2011) DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.519
- International Association of Yoga Therapists. http://www.iayt.org
- American Pain Society. "Yoga and chronic pain have opposite effects on brain gray matter." (May 2015) Accessed 2 Feb 2017: http://americanpainsociety.org/about-us/press-room/yoga-bushnell
- Ambrosini, Diane M., "Restorative Postures" as cited in Chapter 11: Instructing Hatha Yoga: A guide for teachers and students, 2nd ed. (2016). Human Kinetics: IL.