I was introduced to Yoga because I have been nursing nasty back pain that just wouldn’t go away no matter what I did.
5 years living with nothing but searing pain is not a story I ever thought I would write. You know you can sum it up as the folly of youth and ignorance even because in the beginning I ignored the pain. I thought it would evaporate. I thought I could pop pills and just have it go away and never come back again. It didn’t. In fact, it got worse.
I got a benign tumour and an ugly back pain. Sometimes the pain would be so intense, I could hardly talk. My head would spin. There are times I would get nauseous.
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I did not know what forms of exercise would really help my back because the pain meant I compensated using other muscles in the body.
That only made it worse because the pain kept moving to other areas. I have tried many things. Surgeries, pain medication, chiropractors all seemed like the best place to start.
A lot has happened really. And in it all, I was at a loss as to how to just stretch. Give myself a good loving stretch especially on my spine which felt like it had pins plugged in there. I needed to sleep better and at least be more productive.
When you are staring at oblivions door, you train your ears and eyes to be alert. Perhaps, help is in the ordinary conversations with friends. A very good friend of mine mentioned it as a mild form of exercise that would help me relax.
I started yoga practice using Youtube videos. There was relief yes. But there is a whole difference in watching a video and having someone dedicate their time and knowledge to show you what really works.
I am practising Yoga with the help of some of the best teachers in Amherst. I feel better, I feel refreshed and it is now easier to manage my condition.
Yoga has many benefits among them;
Manage Chronic Pain
Of course, this is a good place to start. Pain management is the only reason I discovered Yoga in the first place.
Whether you are going through physical or emotional pain, Yoga can help you mitigate it. Jen Miller has researched extensively on Yoga;
The increased flow of oxygen to brain and muscle tissues that results from the breathing and movement of yoga also help improve energy levels and general feelings of well-being, making it easier to deal with physical pain
Nothing has been more beneficial than knowing I can stretch my spine, release the tension on my lower back and make my body stronger using a non-judgemental method that works to wholesomely shape my life.
Yoga is not just a form of exercise, it schools you on life’s basics. We live in a highly toxic environment both physically and emotionally. Often we forget what is important because we are caught in the rat-chase. Yoga takes you back to the basics.
In 2017, the Boston Medical Center developed a Yoga protocol with the input of Yoga specialists, physical therapists and doctors that particularly targets pain management through Yoga.
Their research was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It details the Yoga poses that you can do to relieve back pain. And if for nothing else, just practice Yoga for how it makes your spine feel.
Because of Yoga, I know I cannot do high impact exercises and that is okay, there are alternatives. I know I cannot be jerking my neck as I do sit-ups. That just makes my pain worse.
I speak a new language. New Yoga language like; Upward facing dog which is one of the poses that are good for the spine. The Lower back clasp has been amazing too. There are scores of them.
Yoga To Manage Stress
There are a lot of stressed people around. You do not need scientific evidence to know that. Just a look at how stressed people carry out their lives and you know they surely could do with some management of sorts.
Yoga has been proven to alleviate stress. You may never hear this from your doctor.
Pain, like mine, is big business for big pharma. Stress and all the health complications it presents to us only means they foam in the mouth because they know they have more clients.
That commodification of the human is what has led most of us to decay as we get pumped with more and more medicine.
I guess it is not the kind of information our money-driven, drug-obsessed society wants to distribute freely. Medicine has its place. When it is not an absolute necessity, we need to hear the alternatives. Yoga is a known stress buster.
Perhaps you are thinking that you can easily just hit the gym and hurray…your stress will be gone. The answer is not that straightforward. It depends. You see, Yoga is grounded on a philosophy of physical exercise, awareness and self-compassion.
Yoga emphasizes a non-judgemental and non-competitive approach that has been hailed as an aid to finding peace and relaxation.
Studies show that Yoga can help relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and even help in improving mood.
Opening up energetic channels has scores of benefits in itself. Your organ and hormone functions improve immensely as well because of the increased flow of blood to your organs. This is part of the reason why Yoga is also credited for improving fertility.
Yoga To Improve Metabolism
Your metabolism holds an important function in your body. It is key to how you feel and just your general health.
Practicing Yoga activates your digestive system through the numerous twists and poses. If you need a non-toxic way to get things moving physically and emotionally, consider practising Yoga.
According to Jen Miller;
Yoga improves our body’s internal rhythms, which assist in how we digest and detoxify. Even if you don’t currently suffer from any outward signs of impaired digestion, increasing our body’s ability to remove toxins is extremely beneficial.
Yoga For Better Sleep
So far we have established that practising Yoga helps your body relax. Stretching the tension out of your body is crucial in aiding sleep.
There is definitely a culture that you should create to help you achieve more from your Yoga practice. A routine that is relaxed and prepares the mind for bed is important. TV, mobile phone or screens, in general, are not very useful in that regard.
Yoga is one of the alternative strategies used to counter insomnia.
Breathing exercises and a few stretches can help you sleep better according to research. one pause I know that works for me is the ‘viparita karani’ or legs up the wall. Its full benefits can be found here.
Yoga For Memory
It so happens that a less stressed you also means your mental health is top notch. Yoga helps you achieve optimal health. There is a science to this.
Some of the things you do in practice are spine lengthening postures, forward and back bending poses. These are important as they stimulate your nervous system.
The inverted postures help with increased circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain.
Spine lengthening postures, the forward and back bending poses, activate the spinal column and stimulate the nervous system. Inverted postures nourish the brain by increasing circulation of blood and oxygen.
Add to that the breathing exercises and what you have is a brain that is well nourished to perform its memory function.
Yoga for Posture
Our jobs, most of them, require us to be at the extreme end of things. Mine especially. I feel as though there is a constant battle between me and gravity.
Poor posture can ruin your back and neck. It can also cause degenerative arthritis of the spine. Your joints too are not happy when you do not give them much needed TLC.
The search for better posture will lead you to know and understand what a neutral pose is. I did not know much about it. With practice though you get to know feel and hear your body respond to these postures in an amazing way.
No. You do not need to pronounce ‘Chaturanga Dandasana’ although it would be nice too. I have trained my ear and eye well to be in the moment.
I am not yet at my destination. I am however grateful for the way Yoga makes me feel. You can try it too.