The Ultimate Meditation Guide for
Back Pain Relief
If you have ever suffered from back pain, you will know that it impacts every aspect of life. It Is restrictive and debilitating generally so it makes sense to find ways to alleviate those niggling aches and pains and to improve health generally. Posture is all-important and all too often, we sit in awkward positions or slouch and so, place tremendous pressure on the back. When you think about alleviating pain, you probably haven’t considered meditation but surprisingly, by combining mediation with the breath, you can release those tight back muscles and reduce pain.
Meditation and back pain relief
Meditation is one of life’s gifts. It is not difficult; it is more about taming the mind so that thoughts do not distract during your session. The aim is to make it an integral part of life so that you can switch off from external distractions at will, calmly turning thoughts inwards. Meditation provides a unique way to reconnect with self, so you instinctively feel when something is wrong. When you meditate, it is about finding stillness and letting thoughts come and go.
When you utilize the breath, you distract your mind from any pain. You also release tight muscles on the exhalation and those muscles start to yield. At first, you meditate on a calming scene, engaging with tranquil places within the mind and the brain releases serotonin - the feel-good chemical. When you connect to your breath, you breathe fully, you develop an easy rhythm and send sending oxygen to the cells of the body. It takes time for the full benefits to be experienced as this research study indicates, however, the results are promising and meditation is a useful resource to work with the body, reducing pain while enhancing mood.
Deep abdominal breathing
Situated just above the abdomen, the diaphragm is engaged within this technique. As you inhale through the nose, the diaphragm contracts leading to a rising movement. When you exhale out of the mouth, the opposite happens, the diaphragm deflates, and the stomach returns to normal. Diaphragmatic breathing actively reduces stress, increases oxygen intake and helps release tight muscles.
To use deep abdominal breathing, sit in a comfortable position and make sure your spine is straight. Place your right hand onto the abdomen and place your left hand upon your chest. Relax into the moment and connect with any feelings of tension or discomfort within. As you inhale, notice if your right hand is moving or, if it is the left hand that is moving more. The right-hand movement determines that you have engaged with the diaphragm.
Although it is important to rest a bad back, it is equally important to keep it flexible however, care must be taken to avoid injury. Think of yoga as a moving meditation, in that you engage with every sinew, every muscle and you live and breathe the stretch. The secret is to let your own flexibility guide you.
Sphinx pose is a wonderful feel-good pose that is suitable for all whether new to yoga, or, if relatively inflexible. It models itself on the Egyptian sphinx so bear this in mind when moving into the posture. Move into any posture carefully, more so if your back is still tender. This pose lengthens the lower back and sacrum and, broadens it too. Continue lengthening the tail bone, visualizing it moving towards the heels. This helps to protect the lower back from strain.
Do not clench the buttocks, you may instinctively do so but mentally allow those muscles to release. Elbows should be under the shoulders and forearms on the floor. Inhale and draw the upper spine up and bend into a lovely, relaxed curve. Engage with the lower abdomen - from the pubis bone to the navel and draw the abdomen away from the floor. This subtle movement supports the back and ensures even distribution of the curve through the spine. It releases the lower back but also engages the upper back too.
Cat and cow pose
Begin this yoga sequence by relaxing in child’s pose first. Then, move into table top position pressing tops of the feet and the hands into the floor. On an exhalation, focus on drawing the abdomen up into the spine as you curve the back, rounding it and tucking both chin and tailbone under. When you inhale, you broaden the collarbones and arch the back, lifting head and tailbone up to the sky. Do not release the abdomen. Think of a cat stretching as you do so. This is a wonderful sequence to improving mobility of the spine while alleviating back pain. Notice that you sync these movements with the breath.
Downward facing dog
In a table top position have hands slightly in front of your shoulders but knees below your hips. Curl your toes under. On an exhalation, lift the knees from the floor, keeping them bent at first but focus on lengthening the tailbone as if pressing it towards the pubis. Then, lift the sitting bones so that they move towards the ceiling, tighten the legs up as if pulling towards the groin. Exhale and stretch the legs out, trying to place the heels to the floor, straighten the legs as you do so. Do not lock the knees. Keep the head between the arms and firm your shoulder blades. Hold this pose for 10 seconds at first and then, up to 3 minutes once you perfect it. Start slowly. Do not push into the extended position if you are in pain. Relax in child’s pose.
Meditation, yoga and breathing-techniques are all powerful, natural resources to help alleviate stress and to reduce pain. It works because it helps you to listen and connect to your body. Never strain, just gradually enter any postures but be mindful of every sensation. In time, strength will improve, and back pain will dissipate but listen to the body. Only you know how far you can move without strain.