You may have heard that yoga is good for your back. After all, it releases tight muscles, improves flexibility and is excellent for stress relief. Every time you try a class, however, your back seems to hurt even more. Before you decide that yoga is simply not for you, please read on. Yoga can be beneficial for back pain, but this blog will discuss four reasons why a general yoga class can make your back pain worse. It will also explain why yoga therapy is a better option if you have back pain. With yoga therapy, you learn how to relieve your particular back pain, and this empowers you to feel happier, stronger and more confident.
1. A general yoga class has too many students
In yoga classes with more than five other students, there is no way the teacher can make sure everyone is doing the poses correctly. However much experience the yoga teacher has, and however carefully they phrase the instructions, there is only so much they can see. Especially if you are new to yoga and you are attending the class because of back pain, this is not a good situation.
Even my specialised back-care classes have a maximum of five students. In the beginning of every session I ask my students what is going on for them, so that I can tailor the class. I also don’t allow a new student in my back care class until I have seen them privately first. In a private session I can discuss the cause of back pain and the poses that should be avoided. We look at poses that can be beneficial and how exactly to practice them.
2. Group pressure
If you are in an intermediate or advanced yoga session, the pace may be too fast and the poses too complicated. You’ll probably experience some pressure to keep up with the class and avoid being the odd one out. This means that there is no time for you to tune into your body. There is no time to really feel if you are doing the poses in a way that will serve you, let alone adapt them to your needs.
3. Some of the poses included are counter-indicated for your particular back pain
If you have back pain, there will be some poses that you have to avoid, and others that are particularly beneficial. Back pain is complicated and each cause of back pain calls for a different approach. Some back pain conditions will get worse with forward bends and rounding the back, while other back conditions will improve with these poses. A general yoga class is unlikely to teach you the difference.
4. Some yoga styles can cause back pain
A yoga style that is purely focused on flexibility, acrobatics and a quick succession of poses may give anyone back pain in the end. After all, strength is as important as flexibility to keep your body functioning well. When our muscles feel tight, we may think that we need more flexibility. However, in order to have a healthy back , we need strong gluts, and strong core and back muscles. Again, because it looks at your individual needs, yoga therapy is a better option if you have back pain.
What yoga therapy can offer instead
If you have a serious back condition, it is best to find a yoga therapist who is specialised in back pain. You may only need a limited number of sessions to learn how to adapt yoga poses in your general yoga class. Or you may love the support and individual attention you receive and continue the one-to-one tuition. This may also be best if your back condition necessitates a very gentle and specific yoga programme, or if you regularly suffer from relapses.
This autumn I have a few places available for new students, private sessions in my home studio or online via Zoom. Do contact me here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/contact-for-yoga-classes-in-chiswick/ to discuss if and how yoga therapy can help you. You could possibly join my back care group yoga, but it is important to have at least one private session first. One or more private sessions will allow you to know exactly how to relieve pain. It will teach you which poses to avoid, how to improve your particular posture, and much more. You will receive a home practice that is not only appropriate for your back, but also for other health challenges you may experience.
The benefits of yoga are numerous. Among many other things, yoga can stimulate joint health, correct posture and improve your balance. It can reduce stress, optimise breathing, and improve the immune system. If you find the right type of yoga for you, you have found one of the best companions for your health and well-being!