Yoga is a millennia old system combining breath control, meditation, and in the last 100 years, asana (AH-sun-uh) or physical postures, designed to improve health, well-being, and a greater mind-body connection. Since the late 1990’s, yoga as a physical practice has become a booming industry, and rightfully so. According to the American Osteopathic Association, the benefits are countless; not only can you expect to enjoy increased flexibility, balance, muscle strength and tone, improved cardiovascular health, and even weight reduction, “the relaxation techniques incorporated into yoga can lessen chronic pain.” How can you use yoga for chronic pain, and how does it work as an alternative treatment?
Yoga for pain relief
One out of every 20 people in the United States is currently experiencing sciatica, with two in five expected to suffer from the chronic pain condition at some point during their lives. Sciatic pain can stretch from the lower back to the feet and is caused by compression on the sciatic nerve.
The excruciating symptoms of sciatica can be eased with a targeted yoga practice, explains Philadelphia Phillies yoga trainer Dana Santas. “Because of sciatica’s varying causes, there isn’t a single magic bullet for relief,” she says. “However, yoga, when applied correctly, can be effective in not only relieving sciatica, but also preventing it.”
By performing modified yoga poses gently and carefully, you can improve your alignment and bolster any weakness in your lower back, in turn effectuating pain relief. As always, it’s wise to check with your doctor or physical therapist before you begin to be sure these exercises won’t exacerbate your condition.