Breath control, called pranayama, and meditation are just as significant as yoga poses (asanas) are in yoga. Certain breathing exercises and meditation techniques help link your mind and body, which can help ease back pain.
This article discusses the benefits of breathing exercises and meditation, including how they can help you achieve good back health.
Developing an awareness of your breath—its rhythm and rate—can actually help ease back pain because it allows you to concentrate on your breath, so your mind isn't so focused on your back pain.
Many people actually have very shallow breathing; they take short, uneven breaths. Once you learn proper yoga breathing techniques—such as deep abdominal breathing, where you take slow, smooth breaths—you may discover that your back pain has decreased.
Breathing techniques, such as making sure your inhales are the same length as your exhales (eg, inhaling to a count of 5 and then exhaling to a count of 5), are typically done while sitting or lying down. However, you can do these exercises in your car or at your desk.
Meditation helps you relax and check in with yourself, which in turn can unclench tense back muscles. It can also help decrease your perception of pain by allowing you to concentrate on something other than the pain.
For example, during meditation you may focus on something that brings you peace—perhaps watching the steady blue waves of the ocean—instead of focusing on your pain. It's not that you forget about your back pain entirely; it's just a way to help you cope with it.
Meditation also helps you become more mindful of your mind and body. You can do meditation while sitting or lying down in a comfortable position.
Many local gyms and yoga studios offer special workshops that focus on yoga breathing and meditation as well as linking the mind and body. There are also an assortment of DVDs and books available on these topics.
Breathing exercises and meditation techniques are safe ways that can help relieve and prevent back pain. Although they aren't considered physical activity, it's still a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor before incorporating them into your routine.