Years after its introduction into Western culture, yoga continues to prove itself as a popular and beneficial form of exercise. Touting wide-reaching benefits like greater flexibility, balance, and core strength, yogis live and die by their Shavasanas. Studies continually find new perks of yoga for your overall health. One great find: yoga may help lessen your back pain. Read on to learn about the back benefits of practicing yoga:

1. Reduce tension.

Most experience yoga as a relaxing form of exercise. Breathing steadily and stretching gently are emphasized. During poses, usually held anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds, some of your muscles flex while others stretch and extend.

When you have back pain, one of the best things to do for yourself is stretch. In the yoga posture "downward facing dog," for example, you elongate your hamstrings; this stretch increases movement in your pelvis, which in turn takes pressure off your lower back. The slow, controlled, and constant breathing in yoga helps lower your mental and physical stress levels, which may also minimize stress-related back issues.

2. Increase body awareness.

Practicing yoga gently pushes you to explore your limits and attempt positions that you may find uncomfortable. Understanding your limits can greatly aid you with your back pain. You'll notice which activities bring about back pain later and immediately sense that slight twinge in your back that will tell you when it's time to stop. You might want to get adjusted at a chiropractic clinic like Hiler Chiropractic and Vax-D Decompression Center before you get far into yoga, as this might increase your stretching range.

3. Improve posture.

Misalignment-related posture problems can cause a host of other issues, including back pain. Luckily, yoga improves alignment through its emphasis on balance-- in fact, the word "yoga" translates to the balance between sides. Yoga helps preserve your spine's normal curvature by balancing the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar areas. It also increases spine flexibility and strength.

4. Strengthen muscles.

Thoughtfully holding and moving through yoga postures slowly strengthens your muscles, especially in the core (abdominal) and back regions. These muscle groups help the spine maintain and regulate proper alignment and aid in preventing future spinal issues.

5. Boost circulation.

Yoga practitioners laud the greater circulation that the practice brings. Stretching increases the blood flow to crucial back tissue, which brings more nutrients in and shoots toxins out. Boosted back muscle health equals less back pain and more spinal protection.

Practice yoga and you'll likely experience these back pain benefits and more. It's important to note, however, that while yoga helps to improve back health, its practice is only part of the solution.

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