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Yoga for Back Pain and Chronic Pain Management

Yoga is well-known for its meditative qualities and is highly encouraged for those who wish to improve their flexibility and balance. However, the less obvious benefits associated with yoga are plentiful; for example, it may be used to treat bad posture as well as reduce symptoms of anxiety or stress. Certain poses in particular may be more effective in treating pain than others.

For example, individuals who are especially prone to back pain – or seek chronic pain Does Yoga Help with Back Pain?management techniques – may be interested in adopting a regular yoga routine that incorporates poses that will better target their problem areas.

Daily practice of yoga will help a user build up strength, flexibility and balance – all of which can create noticeably positive impact on the individual’s self-confidence and mental health, while also providing physical therapeutic value.

The Need for Alternate Forms of Pain Management in those with Opioid Use Disorders 

Holistic recovery programs oftentimes encourage yoga practice to those suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD) as a viable form of pain management. The individual learns how to become more in tune with their body, allowing them to become more receptive to each pose’s spiritual and physical benefits. Because individuals recovering from OUD may be experiencing uncomfortable symptoms associated with withdrawals, learning how to combat them using the stress-relieving properties of yoga can make the recovery journey a smoother process overall.

Yoga is being adopted more and more frequently by substance abuse recovery centers due to its effectiveness in dealing with triggers or cravings. On a similar note, it can be an integral factor in the success of one’s relapse prevention program. Teaching individuals recovering from OUD that yoga can be used as an outlet for their stress is beneficial as yoga requires little equipment or expensive costs.

Lastly, individuals looking to treat their OUD may be interested in developing a recovery program that does not involve the use of painkillers or any further medication. Yoga is a workable solution to this, as it can provide the benefits of pain management and therapy without involving the use of drugs.

Remember to consult a doctor before undertaking any strenuous yoga routine. Many poses may be risky if you have previous or current injuries, or are pregnant. Researching modifications for any pose can help individuals who may need practice with flexibility and balance.

Childs Pose

Child’s Pose

To perform Child’s Pose, the user must be on their hands and knees. Their knees should be spread apart, buttocks resting on the user’s heels, with their arms extended forwards and palms facing the ground. Spine and back should be relaxed, and forehead should be touching the floor. Another slight variation of the pose involves the arms extending backwards and resting against the user’s thighs, keeping their elbows relaxed.

Child’s Pose is an extremely relaxing, low-intensity pose oftentimes used as a transition between harder or more complex poses. It is considered a beginner pose and encourages balance within the user. The therapeutic benefits of Child’s Pose include stress-relieving properties in addition to helping the user stretch their back torso muscles. Neck pain can also be alleviated. Individuals who are pregnant or frequently experience knee pain are advised to use modified versions of Child’s Pose to maximize comfort and relaxation.

Sphinx Pose

Sphinx Pose is performed with the user facing belly down. They gently raise their torso, back bending inwards, and keep their forearms on the mat for stability. The back is stretched while thighs and feet remain rested on the ground. It is classified as a beginner’s post.

Those who practice Sphinx Pose can experience improved posture and alleviated back pain. It is believed to be great at treating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Its namesake stems from its similarities to how the Egyptian creature of mythology, the Sphinx, is posed.

As with most yoga poses, those who experience back or shoulder injury should refrain from practicing this pose.

Sphix Pose
Seated Forward Pose

Seated Forward Pose

The Seated Forward Pose can be performed by sitting upright with one’s legs stretched out in front. The user then reaches their arms and tries to hold onto their feet. Those with limited flexibility may have to hold their shins or calves instead, as long as they feel the stretch in their hamstrings. Back is rounded and torso is gently resting on the user’s thighs.

The Seated Forward Pose is great for stretching one’s hamstrings and back. Benefits include alleviated symptoms of anxiety and insomnia, as well as encouraging better sleep and stress relief. Beginners with limited flexibility can do modified versions of Seated Forward Pose. Individuals who have asthma are not recommended for this pose.

Reclined Pigeon Pose

Reclined Pigeon Pose is characterized by the user resting their back on the mat. One leg is crossed over the other leg’s knee, and arms extend to the hamstrings to hug it towards one’s chest. The hips, hamstrings and knees are stretched when this pose is practiced.

It may take some time before the pose is perfected if the user has not developed enough flexibility. The benefits of performing Reclined Pigeon Pose include improved blood flow and alleviating symptoms associated with sciatica. Tension in the lower body can also be combated by performing this pose.

The Bow Pose

To perform Bow Pose, the user lies on the mat with their belly facing down. Then, they left their legs and torso, extending their arms backwards while grabbing onto their feet or ankles. The pose resembles a bow, hence the name. It is not typically considered a beginner’s pose, but rather categorized to be at an intermediate level.

Bow Pose stretches the chest heavily, while improving flexibility in one’s back. It can help one with asthma and other related respiratory problems, as well as encourage better digestion. For women, Bow Pose may help alleviate symptoms associated with menstrual syndrome. Individuals who are prone to bad posture or back pain are recommended to try this pose. Women who are heavily pregnant should not attempt this pose.

Lower Back Clasp Pose
Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog Pose

Users doing Upward Facing Dog Pose will be lying on the mat with their belly on the floor, then push up with their palms while bending their back gently. Their torso and legs are slightly lifted off the floor, supported by feet and palms. It is a pose that builds strength by exercising the arms and torso.

The most obvious benefit of this Upward Facing Dog Pose is the stretching of the back, spine, and chest. This therapeutic pose can improve symptoms of asthma and speed up the digestion process. It also exercises the user’s thighs and glutes. Lastly, it is a pose that increases energy flow and can help treat mild depression or fatigue. Individuals who are pregnant or currently injured are advised not to attempt this pose.

Downward Facing Dog Pose

An extremely popular pose, the Downward Facing Dog Pose is considered a standing pose. It involves the user stretching their entire body, keeping their legs straight (without locking knees) while their palms are on the ground to form an “A” shape. The spine is lengthened as the user pushes their chest gently towards the direction of the thighs. Heels do not need to touch the ground.

Downward Facing Dog Pose takes its namesake from the way dogs stretch, and is commonly seen as a transition pose. However, it can also be considered a balance or strength-building pose. Its benefits include deeply stretching many body parts, including one’s spine, shoulders, arms, legs, hamstrings, and calves. Classified as an inversion pose (heart is above head), employing regular practice of Downward Facing Dog Pose also reaps the benefits of improving digestion, managing stress, encourages blood flow, alleviates headaches, and is therapeutic for improving symptoms from insomnia, mild depression, and even osteoporosis. Individuals who experience hand cramping or are heavily pregnant should consider modified poses.

Downward Facing Dog

Reclined Supine Twist Pose

To do a Reclined Supine Twist Pose, the user must be lying on their back. One leg is drawn to the chest and hips are shifted to the opposite side, while the other leg is extended straight. Head and opposing arm are facing the direction opposing the hips, with the spine twisted in a soothing stretch.The Reclined Supine Twist Post is great for stretching one’s back muscles, as well as realigning the spine. Improved digestion and stress relief are also benefits associated with this pose. The user should be employing deep and long breaths when performing this pose.

Cat Cow Pose

Cat/Cow Pose

The Cat/Cow pose is one that alternates between the two and is considered a beginner’s pose. It involves the user on all fours, gentle alternating between arching their back towards the sky (similar to a cat stretching), then reversing the arch while dropping the belly towards the mat. This pose can be performed by most individuals and should require little modification.

The Cat/Cow is great for warming up, and stimulates better blood flow and improved posture. Its therapeutic benefits include stress relief and managing back pain.

Standing Forward Bend Pose

The Standing Forward Bend Pose is characterized by the user keeping their legs straight while bending their torso and attempting to hug their knees. This pose stretches one’s hamstrings and back. Modifications can be used if the user’s flexibility level does not allow for a full embrace of the knees.

Performing a Standing Forward Bend Pose helps tension in the shoulders and neck. The act of keeping one’s head below the heart is thought to alleviate symptoms associated with mild depression, insomnia and stress.

Standing Forward Bend Pose
Slow Rocking Knees To Chest Pose

Slow Rocking Knees to Chest Pose

Users performing the Slow Rocking Knees to Chest Post will have their backs against the mat. Knees are bent and hugged towards one’s torso. Arms embrace the knees and head rests on the ground. Then, the user gently rocks themselves side-to-side, massaging their spine. This pose is recommended for beginners and should require little modifications unless needed.

The benefits of Slow Rocking Knees to Chest Post include improved digestion, increasing circulation, and reducing tension in the back.

Seated Spinal Twist Pose

Performing the Seated Spinal Twist Pose involves the user sitting upright on the mat, with their legs stretched forward. One leg is bent and placed on top of the other leg, and the user hugs the upright knee towards their torso. Then, the user faces the opposing direction and twists the torso so that the spine is stretched.

The Seated Spinal Twist Pose encourages improved alignment of the spine, which in turns increases flexibility. One’s blood flow and digestion are also improved. This pose is not recommended for individuals who have knee injuries.

Low Lunge With Back Bend Pose

Low Lunge with Backbend Pose

Low Lunge with Backbend Pose can be performed by doing a runner’s lunge, while arching the back with one arm extended backwards towards the direction of one’s feet. Practicing one’s balance may be necessary to master this pose.

The Low Lunge with Backbend Pose encourages blood flow as well as flexibility. One’s legs and back are stretched and strengthened while the user attempts to remain balanced. When performed correctly, this full body pose is considered a strength-builder.

Standing Forward Fold with Clasped Hands Pose

Users can perform a Standing Forward Fold with Clasped Hands Pose by standing upright and keeping legs straight, without locking the knees. The user must then bend forward, attempting to touch their nose to their leg, thigh or knee. Lastly, arms are stretched backwards towards the sky, with hands clasped together.

The Standing Forward Fold with Clasped Hands Pose may require some practice with flexibility and balance. It is thought to help symptoms of headache, mild depression, stress, fatigue and anxiety. Other benefits include stretching out one’s hamstrings and hips, and may even treat the discomfort associated with menstrual syndrome.

Standing Forward Fold with Clasped Hands Pose
The Bow Pose

Lower Back Clasp Pose

The Lower Back Clasp Pose involves the user lying on the mat, belly down. Then, the user raises their arms backwards and clasps their hands together behind them. This post will stretch and strengthen one’s lower back.

The Lower Back Clasp Pose is a beginner’s pose, but can be modified to suit one’s level of flexibility. Those who experience lower back pain or suffer from bad posture are recommended to practice this pose regularly.

One Knee Crescent Lunge Pose

Triangle Pose

To perform Triangle Pose, the user must first stand with their feet wide apart. Hips are slightly turned to one side, with one arm extended towards the sky and the other facing palm-down on the mat. Your arms should be perpendicular to the floor mat and heels planted firmly on the ground.

Triangle Pose may be difficult for users with limited balance, so moderations can be implemented to ensure ease. Practicing against a wall may be beneficial for beginners. The Triangle Pose encourages a powerful stretch in one’s hips, hamstrings and shoulders. Most notably, it alleviates lower back pain and bad posture. Other therapeutic qualities of performing Triangle Pose include better stability and digestion.

Triangle Pose
Locust Pose

Locust Pose

Locust Pose is performed by the user lying on their belly, keeping their legs straight. Then, the user lifts their torso slightly, raising their shoulders above their hips and gazing directly forward. It is a beginner’s pose that allows the user to stretch their back, torso and leg muscles.

Because the pose targets the lower back, Locust Post is great to practice for individuals experiencing back pain or poor posture. It encourages blood flow as well as provides stress relieving properties. Those who are experiencing neck injury are not recommended for this pose.

Learning How to Manage Your Chronic Pain without Painkiller Drugs

Yoga has been used by individuals to effectively combat stress and anxiety for years. Not only can yoga be used in addiction treatment and recovery to minimize the pain and discomfort of detox and withdrawal from opioids, prescription painkillers or heroin, but can be used to mitigate pain from chronic pain issues – without having to resort to taking drugs to manage back pain.

At Reflections Recovery Center, we utilize yoga therapy for a number of reasons, including to help with pain management during detox and withdrawal from alcohol, prescription drugs, heroin, and other substances. Not only does yoga help to provide relief from chronic pain issues, but yoga can help to manage the symptoms of anxiety and greatly aids the recovery process by centering the mind and body.

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