Lower back pain. Most people will experience it at least once in their lives. When they do, it often continues for a prolonged period of time, zapping their energy and eventually immobilizing them. What can be done about this life-altering condition? Let’s take a look at what Ayurveda has to say from three unique perspectives—energetic, structural and emotional.
The Energetic Lowdown
The truth is that any one of the three doshas can cause lower back pain when they go out of balance. At the core of any low back pain, however, is Vata. Why is this? According to Dr. Vrinda Devani, M.D., “The low back, along with the pelvis and thighs, are sites in the body that Vata likes to consider home.”1 This is because Vata tends to fill in spaces in the body, areas such as the pelvic girdle and large femurs of the thigh area. Vata is often associated with the nervous system as well, and there are extensive nerve plexuses that exit from the lower spinal cord. When Vata gets blocked, displaced or elevated in these areas, we begin to experience pain in the lower back.
The Structural Lowdown
Sometimes lower back pain emanates from poor postural habits and a weak or over-developed abdominal muscle. Together the duo can place undue pressure on the vertebrae of the lower back or misalign a vertebra so it impinges the nerves in this area of the spine. Keeping core muscles strong and balanced and practicing good posture can help reduce or prevent inflammation and strain due to poor musculoskeletal alignment.
The Emotional Lowdown
In Ayurveda, we recognize that the second chakra (the center of emotional stability) and the first chakra (the seat of our personal power) are subtle nervous centers in the region of the lower abdomen. When one or both of these chakras are out of balance, we may feel powerless in our lives, tending toward scarcity and physical pain in and around the lower back. In order to cure this type of pain, we must address the psychological components of our condition in tandem with the physical re-balancing.
Lower Back Pain Prevention and Healing Methods
Since lower back pain can be caused by different factors, it is best to employ a variety of solutions. While Ayurveda offers many, here are some of the best.
- Reduce Vata in its home. Taking the traditional triphala formula to help tonify the colon helps move the Vata energy down from the lower abdomen and out of the body. Another particularly good method of drawing the Vata down and out is called a basti or oil enema. See an Ayurvedic Practitioner to learn the proper way to administer this practice.
- Increase circulation in the region of the lower back. The cold quality of Vata tends to create constriction and tightness in the lower back, often leading to muscle spasms. Warm compresses placed over the lower back and warm oil massages in this area can help amp up circulation, improving the channel-clearing blood flow in the lower back.
- Practice good posture and alignment. Sitting and standing upright, as opposed to slouching, is essential. It’s also important to get up and down throughout the day, particularly for those with sedentary jobs or lifestyles. Sitting for too long can place too much pressure on the lumbar vertebrae and eventually wear them down. Tight hips and a tight piriformis muscle across the buttocks often contribute to sciatica and general lower back pain by restricting blood flow to these areas.There are numerous yoga sequences that can help strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles and improve alignment. Some of the best moves help open up the hip joints to release tension on the joints and the piriformis. Three of my personal favorites are the pigeon pose, the sitting pigeon and the spine twisting pose. For yoga novices or individuals with more serious back pain, I recommend the book, “Back Rx,” by Dr. Vijay Vad and Hilary Hinzmann.
- Rebalance your 1st and 2nd chakras. Use Vam and Lam mantras as a form of sound healing to help rebalance the lower muladhara and svadhishthana chakras. Visit an energy healer if needed. You can also practice meditation to help connect you with the universal consciousness as a means of reducing fear. You can even add specific affirmations to help build personal power and reduce fear of scarcity. Repeating something as simple as “I trust the process of life. All I need is always taken care of. I am safe,”2 on a regular basis can do wonders to help undue the negative thoughts and emotions that may underlie back pain.
2 Heal Your Body, by Louise Hay, P. 16.
The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.