Lower back pain is far more common than we think. As someone who suffered from it, I’ve tried many solutions from prescribed painkillers to homeopaths but the most reliable and effective by far is the time-tested medical tradition of Ayurveda – the sister science of yoga. Ayurveda is an amazing system of healing from ancient India that is re-emerging now after many years of being suppressed under British rule. over the years I am fortunate to have spent many many months in India, and I have witnessed first-hand the powerful benefits of this amazing health care system. Now in my own UK practice, I support women whose lives have been impacted and often turned upside down by backpain. Make no mistake about it, back pain can change your life. It can take away your independence and make you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel but believe me, there really is. As a Traditional Ayurvedic Massage Therapist, I first help my patients to understand the underlying causes of lower back (and other types of) pain, based on an Ayurvedic perspective. After all, if you don’t understand the nature of your illness, how can you begin to treat it effectively? The solutions below have worked wonders for many many of my patients mainly because they work with root causes of pain, which Ayurveda would attribute to excess of a fundamental constituent of the body called vata dosha. There are three such fundamental constituents of the body which according to Ayurveda also connects deeply to the world around us. Each is made up of a different combination of the five great elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Vata dosha is made of ether and air. The solutions below definitely reduce vata dosha, and are extremely powerful in pain relief. Here they are:
1. Stay warm.
One of the main qualities of vata dosha is that it’s cold. If you have lower back pain you’ll notice an increase if you wander about in a cold environment. Some people don’t actually notice this which is why understanding your body is so important. You know how we always want to be warmly tucked away in our bed whenever we feel ill? An important part of this picture of comfort is the warmth factor, which also applies to pain relief.
2. Reduce your intake of very pungent spices.
Consuming extremely pungent spices in your food, such as red and green chilies and wasabi, can have a very drying effect on the body. Because dryness is another one of the main qualities of vata dosha, it gets increased with drying substances, and this can lead to constipation, as well as lower back pain due to stasis of the stools.
3. Eat warm foods.
Because of the principle of like for like, eating cold food and drinks causes an increase in vata dosha, which leads to pain. Coldness creates constriction and congestion in the body, while the appropriate amount of heat provides expansion and allows the stool-carrying channels in the body (called srotas) to stay open so that we can optimally eliminate our food. And healthy elimination of toxins equals less pain.
4. Practice Padahastasana.
Padahastasana (standing forward fold pose) is a great Yoga pose for lower back pain in particular because it allows vata dosha to flow optimally throughout the body, eliminating the constriction of the stool-carrying channels that causes both constipation and lower back pain. Whenever Ayurveda clients suffer from lower back pain that is not due to muscular reasons, we recommend this pose as a way to help with elimination. I have personally noticed that when I have had difficulty eliminating and then have done so, my lower back pain has left my body at the same time as the stools have.
5. Oil your body.
My lower back pain has always intensified during stressful periods of my life. Ayurveda teaches how stress, and tiredness all increase vata dosha, and too much accumulated buildup of vata dosha leads to early aging, in addition to pain in various parts of the body, especially the lower back. The skin, being the primary organ of vata dosha, can be compared to a leather bag. If this leather bag gets very dry, it will crack and can even completely break apart; the same bag, when oiled, however, is able to sustain itself. Oiling your body with warm sesame oil before taking a warm shower makes the skin healthy and strong, wards off aging, and reduces lower back pain.
6. Drink Bishop’s weed seed tea.
Bishop’s weed seeds (called Ajwain seeds in Hindi) can be found in virtually any Indian store and many health food stores. This Ayurvedic spice is highly beneficial for pain, as well as constipation, and can be safely taken by anyone not suffering from heat-related conditions. Any time I have lower back pain (usually during periods), I always boil Ajwain seeds in water and drink this tea. It provides instant pain relief.
7. Practice alternate nostril breathing.
Also called Anuloma Viloma, this Pranayama (breathing exercise) is the most beneficial breathing practice for balancing vata dosha. It greatly benefits lower back pain and other pain-related vata dosha conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and more.
Try the above tips today and you, too, can bid say goodbye for good to years of unnecessary lower back pain.
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