How many times have you heard that expression?
How about, “Can you back me?” or “Do you have a back-up plan?”
The word “back” thus seems to indicate support and that’s exactly what our backs are, support for our physical bodies. But how about the expressions, “Don’t look back” or “Back to the drawing board.” This use of the word “back” refers to a point in time that has already passed.
Physical pain is often the result of painful experiences from the past, which we have stored up inside. Thoughts and feelings related to those experiences manifest as pain and disease in the back of the body, our support.
The science of yoga believes that we are more than just our physical bodies. Similar to the layers of an onion, the outer layer is just the surface. We have an energy body as well as the thinking mind, the intellect and the bliss body, all surrounding our soul, our higher self.
Yoga therapy addresses all five layers, or Koshas. Through conscious, gentle movement of the spine, connected with the breath we begin to peel away those layers and connect body, mind, and spirit.
A recent article in the New York Times health section reports that physicians are rethinking their line of treatment for back pain.
The American College of Physicians published updated guidelines moving away from medications as the first line of therapy for people with lower back pain. Dr. Nitin Damle, president of the group’s board of regents and a practicing internist, says, “Pills, even over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory [drugs] should not be the first choice, we need to look at therapies that are non-pharmacological first.”
The article goes on to state “doctors should avoid prescribing opioid painkillers for relief of back pain…and suggest those suffering with back pain try alternative therapies like exercise, acupuncture, massage therapy or yoga.”
The guidelines also say that steroid injections were not helpful and neither was acetaminophen, like Tylenol, although other over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen could provide some relief.
The important thing to remember is to keep moving. Often, people with back pain avoid movement and the problem worsens. Gently moving the spine in all 6 directions while connecting movement to breath is very healing.