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You Don't Have to Live with Back Pain

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

Does your back hurt?

Align your Spine!  Do some yoga.  We finally have a rigorous medical study that makes a real connection between Yoga and spine health! 

Researchers at the University of West Virginia reported in the September 2009 issue of Spine (published by the North American Spine Society) that "after 24 weeks, the yoga group reported greater improvements in pain and disability, on average, than the comparison group.  And while none of the study participants had major depression, the yoga group's scores on a standard measure of depression symptoms improved to a greater degree than the comparison group's."

Keep in mind that this study had participants take 6 months of twice/week Iyengar-style yoga classes.  Iyengar is a form of yoga that emphasizes proper body alignment and uses "props," such as blocks, blankets and the wall, to help support people in the various yoga postures. And the certified Iyengar yoga instructors in this study had experience using yoga therapy for back pain.

Yoga is at its heart a way to connect you to your spirit.  But in physical terms, it's a balancing of opposition.  Most poses create a strengthening of one part of the body, while stretching another.  And the slow movements are very safe.  Meditation can be the bonus, but even if you can't quiet your mind, you will still do your body a world of good.

If you'd like to try yoga, first, find this type of yoga: Iyengar.  Second, check your instructor's credentials--did he/she get their certification on-line (it's possible) or through a rigorous training program that requires hands-on apprenticing and re-certification every 2 years?  Third, talk to the instructor before you begin the classes and explain that you have back pain, so the instructor can provide you with modifications until your muscles catch up with the poses.

And remember...these people took 6 months of yoga--not 6 sessions.  But gradually, without the use of pain medication or surgery, they found relief.

You can, too.  One pose at a time.


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