We are delighted to have Terri Fry, Director of The Hot Yoga Factory in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, guest author this post on our blog.
A consistent yoga practice, with a trained and qualified teacher, can have many benefits. Yoga can keep you physically fit, help increase your energy levels in our modern fast-paced life, and it can also help to quiet your mind. Yoga, in the form of postures (asanas) and pranayama (breathing techniques), can not only help you get (and stay) fit, but also have therapeutic benefits on a wide variety of medical conditions. As a matter of fact, research has shown that pranayama can have a significant, positive effect on stress-related disorders and anxiety.
I am a certified Bikram yoga teacher. Bikram is a yoga style that targets spinal strength and flexibility. Your spinal column is made up of 33 moveable bones, called vertebrae, that begin at the base of your skull and extend down to your pelvis. When your spine is healthy, you can walk, exercise and go about your day-to-day activities without pain.
Many people are affected by spinal problems, with back pain being one of the most common symptoms of spinal dysfunction. Some spinal injuries may be serious and hinder people from going about their day to day activities. Specific yoga postures can focus on healing spinal injuries, and/or improving spinal health, because a healthy spine equals a healthy life.
Two departments of the United States Department of Health and Human Sciences (The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) have conducted studies that demonstrate how yoga can help people with lower back pain. The latter organization (the NCCAM) also conducted research to study the impacts of Iyengar yoga (a form of Hatha yoga) on people with chronic low-back pain. These studies concluded that yoga improved symptoms of depression, reduced functional disability and decreased pain amongst the participants that suffered from chronic low-back pain.
Additional research studies conducted by the NCCAM in 2011, revealed that yoga had a positive impact in decreasing symptoms of chronic low back pain. It also revealed that yoga demonstrated better results than a do-it-yourself book designed to decrease pain in people who suffer from lower-back pain.
In 2013, The Clinical Journal of Pain made a claim for strong evidence suggesting that yoga therapy was effective in research participants who suffered from chronic low-back pain, in both short-term as well as long-term effectiveness. The styles of yoga that were studied included Hatha Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Viniyoga, as well as some postures of no particular style that targeted the lower back.
Bikram yoga has a positive impact on your spine by improving your flexibility. At The Hot Yoga Factory in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, we practice yoga in a room that is heated to 105 F, which helps to warm up your body and deepen your stretches. (‘Even iron bends when you heat it up’ is the old adage here!) Bikram yoga may help alleviate many types of back pain, including pain associated with herniated disks and other lower back problems.
The overall body of research has suggested that various forms of therapeutic yoga can have a positive effect on back pain, as well as improve overall spinal health.
If you decide to start a yoga practice to improve your spinal health, as well as your overall mental and physical health, we strongly recommend starting with a trained, qualified yoga teacher. If you are a patient who suffers from back pain, back trauma, or any other form of spinal injury, check with your chiropractor first before starting a yoga program. You can always discuss your symptoms with your yoga teacher before you begin to check for any contraindications.