Poor posture and bad habits in movement place undue of pressure on the spine. The resulting muscular tension is a frequent cause of back pain, which may also radiate to other areas of the body, such as the head, neck, arms and legs. This is why each Yoga Asana generally involves some part of the spine in the exercise. Those exercises that include a gentle twist of the spine specifically relax the deep layers of muscles in the back. These muscles connect the individual vertebra along the spine and are very much inclined to hold tension. As these muscles are oblique, they receive immense benefit from gentle twisting exercises. Yoga in Daily Life's graduated system of Relaxation, Breathing and Physical exercises, is a useful
program for patients who present with painful joint and muscular imbalance due to overuse and repetitive strain. The Yoga exercises systematically train the muscles of the whole body, alternating stretches with holding postures, relaxation and movement.
Stretching and strengthening the muscles should be combined. If a muscle is only stretched it immediately tenses and shortens again under pressure when it lacks the necessary strength. If a muscle is only strengthened it loses its flexibility and elasticity, which manifests as reduced mobility.
Once medical diagnosis has excluded natural damage as the cause of a problem then it can be assured that regular practice of “Yoga in Daily Life” will improve muscular balance and joint health.
Strong and flexible muscles form an important protection for the spine and joints. That is why regular practice of Yoga exercise reduces the symptoms of spine and joint problems after just a few weeks. Practice of the Yoga Asanas provides the necessary range of movement to maintain proper health of muscles, ligaments, cartilage and joint capsules, which is essential for their function. The ligaments and connective tissue that surround each joint become tight with muscular tension, but become more supple by stretching. The Yoga exercises also enhance the production of joint fluid from the inner layer of the joint capsule, thereby nourishing the joint. Cartilage, discs and menisci all require balanced movement to preserve flexibility and mobility.
by Harriet Bucher, Dipl. Physiotherapist, Vienna, Austria