12/06/2016

Riaz Fredericks

BULA BLOG

East Meets West - Doctors, Yoga and Lower Back Pain!

Mindful Yoga Therapy.

Doctors recommend Yoga for Lower Back Pain!

Doctors are, with increasing frequency, recommending that patients suffering with lower back pain start practicing yoga. Until recently, a doctor's only tools to fight back pain were traditional physical therapy and opioid pain medication. Yoga has emerged as a valuable addition, and sometimes an alternative to, that traditional pain treatment plan. With the rise in opioid addiction and the continued increasing cost of physical therapy, doctors are more inclined to turn to non-traditional methods of addressing pain.

Countless studies prove benefits long term benefits to yoga

There have been countless studies confirming that yoga can help with lower back pain, but those studies are tempered with caution because yoga can cause serious injuries. It is important for every person beginning a yoga practice to work at his or her own level -- this is particularly true for people who are struggling with a chronic pain condition. Leave the headstands to the advanced practitioners and find yourself a class that suits your specific needs.

There are so many different styles of yoga

All yoga classes are not all created equally! Yoga is a form of exercise that has its own systems, principles and movements, like many other exercise methods there are a number of different levels, styles, breathing techniques and practices. Speaking from experience it is easy to get caught in a level one yoga class without any experience with yoga and find yourself unknowingly competing with the people around you, trying to get in to every pose when your body has not had enough conditioning. It is easy to get frustrated when you see someone peacefully holding downward dog when you are sweating buckets and shaking like a leaf!

Mind-body exercising is the key

Yoga is a form of mind-body exercise which is foreign to a lot of people. The term mind-body is refers to the controlled mindfulness of breathing combined with both movement and stillness. It takes time to just become good at controlling your breathing patterns and then linking it to the specific sequence of movements that make up many yoga classes. It is for this reason that I strongly recommend anyone who has had a long history of injury and lower back pain to start their yoga journey in a restorative yoga class.
Restorative yoga is the best place to start

Restorative yoga is the best place to start

Restorative yoga is a safe way to introduce yourself to some of the techniques that form the basis of most yoga practices. Most, if not all, of the poses are performed lying on the floor using yoga props to keep you comfortable. If practiced with a mind toward your own specific limitations, there is very little chance that you will injure yourself and a very good chance that you will emerge from the class feeling stronger, looser and more flexible. Restorative yoga is a safe way to experience the benefits that yoga has been proven to offer - gaining controlled breathing awareness, increasing strength, improving your range of mobility and reducing pain - all without the risk of injury.

How to start your yoga journey!

For all my friends in Los Angeles looking to start their yoga journey and build a regular exercise regime centered on improving the health of their lower back and spinal system, check out Santa Monica Yoga and its Sunday restorative yoga class, I spent more than a year taking this class after my lower back surgery and it was something I looked forward to all week!! The instructor Katherine Newmark is an amazing yoga teacher with more than 10 years of teaching experience, who helped me when I was at my weakest. I could not recommend Katherine enough, it was in her class that I first learnt some of the key breathing techniques to relaxing the nervous system and finding deeper levels of pain relief. Tell her Riaz sent you, she will get a kick out of that!

Find a restorative yoga class near you

For all my friends out of town, get online and find out which one of your local yoga studios has a restorative class. If you can’t find one try to get a referral to a level one class with a very experienced teacher who can help guide you. If you can afford private yoga instruction find a teacher who specializes in restorative yoga or yoga for pain management and reach out. You will not believe how great you will feel. If you have any question please post them below, I would love to answer them and help in any way I can.

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Good luck!!

Namaste

Comments

Comments

Comment
2016-12-06 12:59 PM | 
Awesome article! I loved that you go into detail about how broad the range of styles are and that restorative yoga is the place to start to get the concepts of yoga without injury. I have quite a few clients who were recommended yoga by their doctors only to have them go get into a hot yoga class that was intensely fitness oriented only to find themselves doing more of what got them into trouble in the first place. Mind body is the place to start. Most people with low back pain have low awareness of their breath and lack specificity of sensation in their backs. This blog really breaks it down! Thank you.
Comment
2017-01-11 9:31 AM | 
Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful comments! You are absolutely right that many people can find themselves in worse shape after taking a yoga class that is not suited to their specific needs. I've had that experience myself! So many people don't realize that there are many different types of yoga. The inspiration for this blog post came from wanting to give some clarity for individuals who have limited range of motion in their spinal systems and as a result suffer with lower back pain. Yoga, stretching and or any movement practice is key to improving and fighting back pain but it's critical that individual start at their right level and don’t risk making their conditions worse.