Back Pain? Try Svaroopa Yoga
Ah, my aching back! How many times have you uttered, mumbled (or dare I say, yelled?) those words? If you are looking for an effective therapy for back pain that does not involve drugs or medical procedures and you’ve wondered about yoga but were worried you wouldn’t be able to do the poses, your worries may be over when you discover Svaroopa® Yoga.
Svaroopa yoga is gentle and therapeutic
The therapeutic value of yoga for people with chronic or low back pain has been verified in a number of scientific studies. One recent study, for example, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reported that 12 weeks of yoga instruction for adults with recurrent or chronic low back pain "led to greater improvements in back function than did usual care."
Not all styles of yoga are alike, and that statement is certainly embodied in the form of yoga known as Svaroopa yoga. The word svaroopa is Sanskrit and means you get to know yourself at the deepest level of your being.
Svaroopa yoga is a therapeutic style based on yoga poses (asanas) called core opening. Core opening means the poses involved in this yoga practice relieve pressure from the spine. Basically, Svaroopa yoga positions can release the tension that affects the muscle layers around the spine.
Core opening also has a positive impact on the internal organs and glands, which then allows the body to function in harmony. The concept of core opening can relieve back and neck pain, shoulder tension, and a number of other benefits.
According to Terry Gardner, director of the Rehoboth Beach Yoga Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and a Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher, Embodyment® Practitioner, and Meditation Teacher, “This style of yoga unravels pain.” Gardner and her staff, who work with many people who suffer with back pain, neck and shoulder pain, as well as headache/migraine, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, and stress, continually witness the therapeutic value of this form of yoga.
Svaroopa yoga does more than relieve the ills of the body, however. True to the yoga tradition, Svaroopa yoga can help restore mental clarity, promote a sense of inner peace and calm, and improve self-awareness of body, mind, and spirit.
A session of Svaroopa yoga
Among the “secrets” of Svaroopa yoga are positioning of the body at precise angles, gentle hands-on adjustments from professional teachers to help the body gradually open to the therapeutic experience, breathing practice, and the use of soft blankets as props.
A session of Svaroopa yoga typically begins with shavasana (or savasana), or the corpse pose, but not the traditional pose that comes to mind where you are lying flat on your back on the floor. Shavasana is a time to settle into your body and your spine and to calm the mind.
In Svaroopa yoga, you lie on a soft blanket with your knees gently lifted and supported by blankets while your feet rest on a soft block. Your arms rest comfortably at your sides, and you are covered with a blanket.
After about 10 minutes of shavasana, there is a guided breathing session, followed by the yoga poses. This portion of the session may include positions that focus on lower spinal release, upper spinal release, the neck and shoulders, abdominals, balance, or seated poses and twists, all led by the teacher who provides gentle hands-on support for each participant as needed based on his or her needs.
A Svaroopa yoga session ends by returning full circle to shavasana. There are different levels of participation, including beginning, continuing, and advanced (deeper) classes.
Certified Svaroopa Yoga teachers complete a rigorous instruction and training course of 500 hours or more, including anatomy and physiology, pose adjustments, and meditation. There are certifications for pregnancy, back, medical yoga therapists, and more.
Svaroopa yoga is a yoga style that can benefit just about anyone, especially those with back pain, and is enjoyed by individuals with hip replacements and knee surgery. It is important to seek instruction from a Certified Svaroopa Yoga teacher and fully inform him or her of your condition and limitations so you can experience optimal benefit in body and spirit from your yoga sessions.
Master Yoga Foundation
Rehoboth Beach Yoga
Tilbrook HE et al. Annals of Internal Medicine 2011 Nov 1; 155:569-78
Picture credit: Author/Rehoboth Beach Yoga