Yoga Offers More than Therapy for Back Pain

Yoga teaches us that the body is as young as the spine is supple. A simple statement, which nonetheless holds a key to understanding not just how to prevent debilitating back problems, but how to stay healthy and vital throughout life.

The role that the back and spinal cord plays in our overall health and vitality receives little attention in the Western framework of health and fitness. But keeping the back healthy isn’t just important in order to prevent back problems and posture-related health conditions. It may be one of the best things we can do for our long-term health. And, as that Indian saying goes, it may well impact how much of your vitality, well-being and functionality you’ll be able to retain as you grow older.

The health of the spine is linked to our structural and physical health, even to the health of our organs. The spinal canal houses bundles of nerves that run from the brain and exit through various openings in the spine to transmit information between the central and peripheral nervous systems. In terms of subtle anatomy as well, the spine is the central conduit for the flow of prana, or vital energy, in our body, making the health of our spine key to our overall vitality and well-being.

According to the knowledge of the subtle body in yoga philosophy, the spine constitutes the central channel for the flow of vital energy, or prana, in the body. According to the tantric tradition, there are 72,000 minute channels, or nadis, through which the vital force flows. The main channel is the Sushumna, often equated with the spinal cord. The Sushumna is adjoined by the Ida and Pingala, two large channels that alternate, crossing over the Sushumna at each of the chakras, the seven main energy centers of the body.

Yoga by now has been proven to be an effective therapy for back pain. However, beyond staying clear of back issues, yoga also plays a critical role in keeping the back healthy, i.e. keeping a balanced posture, keeping the spine flexible and supple, and ensuring the proper flow of nerve information in the spine. Yoga has therapeutic effects on the spine because it is one of the few approaches to fitness, which actually moves and massages the spine in numerous different directions. The spine relies on continuous movement to keep the discs between the spine supple and hydrated and to keep the soft tissues around the spine flexible and pliable. This is why practicing yoga for back pain doesn’t just relieve pain issues, but rather, people who adopt a yoga therapy routine for back pain report experiencing great improvements in energy and well-being as well.

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