Yoga was introduced into the United States as early as the 19th century, but really started shifting into the mainstream in the 1950’s. By the 1960’s yoga becomes popularized within the counter-culture, and gets identified with being “granola” in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Today, you can find almost every culture and social group touting the benefits of yoga. Yoga has asserted itself in society’s mainstream as a physical practice that allows for the practicer to get into peak shape as well as attend to the practicer’s emotional state. Hold over hippies, office executives, construction workers, and athletes all enjoy doing yoga because of the benefits it produces. Most people turn to yoga because of some physical ailment, most commonly pain. And then they continue to practice, because they don’t want the pain to return. So what can yoga do for your pain?
Most people suffer from some type of back pain. Whether physically strained at work or through injury, yoga can allow a person to undo that damage. Incorporating yoga into their daily lives allows people to thrive. The important thing to remember is to start slow and not force your body to contort into positions you’re not flexible enough for (even though that is the goal down the road). The different poses both relax your body and strengthen it. A simple stretch for yoga beginners is Child’s Pose. Its a gentle fold of the body forward. You sit back on your heels and bend forward with your hands placed on the floor in front of you. Your arms remain extended in front of you, and you rest your forehead gently on the floor. And then you just stay there. Keep this position for a few minutes and return to your original position. You stretch your hamstrings and your spine. This deceptively simple stretch accomplishes more than you realize. The practicer can release the tension from their neck and back, while lengthening their spine. It also loosens your hip flexors adding for more flexibility.
Another good one to try: Sphinx Pose. First, lay face down on the ground, and place your palms facedown, and lift your upper torso and head. This simple stretch helps strengthen your spine and stretches out your chest and shoulders. A good one to follow with is the Bridge Pose. Lay flat on your back and have your arms rested at your side. With your feet firmly on the ground, lift your hips up so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold your hips up and return them slowly to the ground. This stretch is incredibly crucial to stretch the spine and stimulate the surrounding nerves.
While it would be amazing to contour your body like a pretzel, it is important to not push your physical limits. The goal is to gradually increase your ability with consistent practice. These minimal stretches are done regularly as well as spinal cord stimulation continues to release pain from your spine while strengthening it. Your flexibility increases and your pain subsides. You strengthen your body through consistency.