Everyone knows that yoga is good for stretching and relaxing and even spiritual practice, but research is now showing that it can also be good for pain — especially those nagging pains that traditional medicine can’t seem to deal with.
Chronic low-back pain is often the bane of doctors, who have few effective treatments for a condition that torments tens of millions of Americans. And those who suffer from back pain are eager for relief that doesn’t involve potentially dangerous drugs. In recent years scientific studies have shown that yoga is a safe and effective treatment for back pain. If you suffer from back pain, you’ll want to take note, but do not sign up for the first yoga class you come across.
The researchers in the most well-designed study so far, a randomized clinical trial, the gold standard for this kind of research, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, were very particular about which form of yoga they chose for their experiment. As you might suspect if you’ve ever seen a yoga practitioner folding herself into the eight-angle pose or arching her back in the camel, some poses and some types of yoga can be too vigorous for those with bad backs. There are many styles of yoga, however. The researchers in the Annals study chose a type of yoga called viniyoga.
Viniyoga focuses on warming up muscles before beginning the stretches to reduce the chances of injury, and instructors work one-on-one with students, which helps make sure you’re doing the poses correctly and safely. Adapting the program to suit the need of the individual student is a key part of the viniyoga method, so you know that you will be getting what you need and not risking further injury. Viniyoga is not the only type of yoga that has been shown to be useful for aches and pains, but it is one of the most adaptable of the many schools of yoga.
Here is a guide to a few of the more popular styles of yoga:
Ashtanga: A style of yoga that is designed to increase body heat and produce body-purifying sweating.
Sivananda: Puts an emphasis on relaxation and breathing techniques.
Jivamukti: Focuses on using yoga as a means of developing compassion and loving-kindness and dissolving the sense of separateness from others.
Ananda: This type of yoga puts a great deal of emphasis on the spiritual side of the practice; practitioners try to awaken the energies of the chakras.
Hatha: One of the most common types of yoga in the U.S., hatha yoga focuses on simple, discrete poses, stretching and breathing techniques.
Bikram: This type of yoga is practiced in a hot, humid room, and like Ashtanga, aims to purify the body through sweating out toxins.
Svaroopa: A therapeutic style of yoga that focuses on releasing tension in the spine as well as personal transformation.
Source: www.marshfieldnewsherald.com; Gannett Media Service; October 6, 2014.