Bikram yoga can has several benefits that can be helpful in relieving mild middle back pain. While poses that stretch or curve the back are the most beneficial, the high heat of a Bikram yoga studio also serves to alleviate pain in the middle back. However, it is important to maintain the proper form to avoid further injury. If your back pain is severe, see a doctor to determine the cause and do not perform yoga until you are cleared to do so.
Bikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s. It is a form of Hatha yoga and consists of a sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. Classes run 90 minutes and are performed in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 40 percent.
Middle Back Pain
Middle back pain is less common than lower back pain, but it can be difficult to treat. Middle back pain, also known as thoracic pain, is felt between the bottom of the neck and the top of the lumbar spine, a group of five vertebrae that make up the lower back. It can be caused by muscle strain, injury and poor posture.
Feel the Heat
According to Choudhury, one of the main reasons for the high heat in Bikram yoga classes is that it protects the muscles and allows for deeper stretching. He says "a warm body is a flexible body," so it stands to reason that the warmer the body is, the more flexible it will be. This increased flexibility then allows for deeper stretches when performing poses that target the middle back.
Middle Back Poses
One of the best Bikram yoga poses for middle back pain is full locust pose. In this pose, which is considered a "baby backbend," you lie on your stomach with your arms out to the side. You then lift your arms and legs at the same time, giving a big stretch to the middle back. Choudhury says this pose increases strength in the middle spine, but it is also good for scoliosis and slipped discs. Following full locust pose in the Bikram yoga sequence is bow pose. It is similar to the preceding posture, but instead of stretching your arms to the side, you reach back and grab your ankles, forming a bow shape. Choudhury says this pose helps with "all manner of back problems," and it can help relieve pain in the lower, middle and upper back.
A rolled up blanket, towel or mat can be used in bow or full locust pose for extra support. Those who cannot reach their ankles in bow pose can wrap a strap around the front of the ankles and hold the ends.
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