There are many treatments available for back pain including painkillers, acupuncture, and plain old exercise. But, perhaps the most serene back pain treatment you can find is yoga. Touted as one of the best alternative treatments for all kinds of pain (physical and otherwise), yoga has gained popularity throughout the world. The ancient practice’s claims are not based in pseudoscience, either. Several studies have shown that yoga’s emphasis on flexibility, stretching, and strengthening your core can have a beneficial effect on your back pain. We already know that standard stretches and exercises have a positive effect on back pain, and yoga certainly provides some unique positions and poses for alleviating certain pain.

Of course, if you have chronic severe back pain, then yoga might not be right for you. It is a practice that is more geared toward those who have chronic (but not severe aches) and occasional back discomfort. There are plenty of poses in yoga that can help stretch out your back and give you a much looser feel. Before you start trying yoga, however, it’s always important to consult your physician. They will be able to tell you whether yoga could have positive benefits for you in the long run. If anything, yoga keeps you away from medications that can be habit forming.

A stretching purist might say that a yoga class is unnecessary or even “weird.” There are a lot of aspects of yoga that are not related to stretching or the improvement of back pain which might turn some people off to the idea. The more philosophical concepts behind yoga are certainly hard to get behind if you’re just looking for a little back pain relief. Even so, some yoga classes can offer intensive stretching regimens that you wouldn’t find in any other exercise class of its ilk.

In fact, yoga might be the most practical choice for back pain sufferers as it is so commonplace. Gyms, YMCA centers, and even independent studios offer yoga in a variety of locations. It might be easier to opt for a yoga regimen even if you think the whole idea is strange or hokey. Obviously, if you really buy into the deeper concepts behind yoga, then you may feel more relaxed and considerably less stressed. You’ll also have a much less painful experience with your back when all is said and done.

Yoga often runs into a few stereotypes, but the benefits it can offer are certainly viable. In fact, one study compared a common yoga regimen with similar exercise and stretching routine. Both of these options provided back pain relief and a decent stretch and workout. Of course, the yoga was carried out in an environment that was potentially more relaxing and serene. The choice between doing yoga and just doing a few stretches is really up to you. You can think of yoga as just a few stretches if it helps you make it to your classes. In any event, if you’re looking for a reduction in back pain, yoga can provide that for you.

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Melissa Simms is a health writer and yoga teacher from Mishawaka, Indiana. She has experience with health issues that have been treated with yoga and other exercise and shares her experiences through her writing.