Art of Living Journeys: Manju’s Road to Healing
The practice of a Panchakarma cleanse is an effective, deeply healing way to reset your body and begin to heal. Manju, a recent Panchakarma participant, shares how her experiences at the Art of Living Retreat Center helped her along the journey to healing her body and restoring her range of movement.
A Healing Community
I have problems with my knees and back, and I can’t walk very far, and when I first heard about the Art of Living Retreat Center, as much as I wanted to come, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. So I called and asked if it would be physically possible for me to do the Panchakarma retreat, and the person I spoke to, Mary, reassured me that it was.
I was so scared and nervous – I hadn’t gone anywhere without friends or family in so long. This was an unknown place and unknown people, but Mary said “Look, please come. Don’t be scared, I’ll take care of you.” And she did, and I am so thankful for her for that. And not only Mary, but all of the staff, were very careful and helpful and encouraging. I could have never, ever imagined that I could explore yoga and Ayurveda in this way with all the restrictions I have.
A Step Towards Healing
My knees are so much better now. I used to take painkillers and ice my knees in the morning and evening, and although there is still a lot of progress to be made, with the support of my doctor and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center, I’m beginning to be able to walk up and down stairs again. I’m really, really glad I came here, and I can’t wait to come back.
Begin your road to healing. The Panchakarma Retreat runs weekly.
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!
The Practice: 8 Simple Yoga Positions for Back Pain
If you suffer from chronic back pain, then yoga could help you find relief. A systematic review published in the Journal of Orthopedics & Rheumatology concluded that yoga was a safe and effective back pain remedy. This ancient practice, which combines gentle stretching with deep breathing and meditation, can help address back pain from multiple angles. And while the perfect yoga sequence will combine different postures to help stretch every major muscle, you probably want to keep your focus on your achy back for now. Here are 8 easy-to-do yoga poses known to mitigate back pain.
This gentle stretching exercise is the perfect way to warm up for more challenging poses. To start the cat-cow stretch, first, you need to get on all fours. Make sure that your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are aligned, and your knees are set below your hips. At an inhale, life your tailbone and chest upwards while your belly moves towards the floor. Slowly exhale, rounding your spine towards the ceiling while keeping your knees and palms firmly on the floor. Repeat ten times.
Because one of the main focuses of yoga is balance, it’s a good idea to balance out the previous posture with spine stretching in the opposite directions. Triangle pose will help you do just that, by allowing you to stretch your lower spine from side to side gently. Start the pose by standing straight, then place your left foot out. Turn your chest towards your left side, stretching your left arm towards the ground and your right arm towards the ceiling. Keep your knees straight during each movement. If you feel comfortable enough, look up towards your right and and hold the position for 5-15 seconds. At an exhale, return to the initial position and repeat on the other side.
Lie prone, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Now, bend your elbows so that your palms are placed beside your waist. Inhale and press your palms on the floor to straighten your arms while lifting your torso as well as your hips just a few inches from the floor. Do not tighten your buttocks or push your ribs forward, as this only strains the lower back. This pose is very effective for back pain relief, as well as improved flexibility, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.
This pose helps ease upper and lower back pain while also providing stress relief. To get into this pose, kneel on the floor and sit on your heels. Separate your knees wide apart, and at an exhale, lay your torso towards the floor with your hands above your head. Gently stretch your arms forward as much as you can, and hold this position for up to 15 seconds. This is essentially considered a resting pose, and is perfect to use between more difficult postures. However, this pose may not be suitable if you are pregnant.
Another relaxing pose that will help release your lower back and improve overall spinal mobility. Lay on your back, and place your knees on your chest. Gently turn your knees to your right side with one leg resting on the floor and the other laying on top of it. Turn your head to the opposite direction, and spread your arms wide apart at a 90-degree angle. Remain still as long as you like, and repeat on the other side. This relaxing pose is perfect for those with lower back pain, as well as neck stiffness and shoulder pain.
Downward-facing dog stretches all major muscle groups while also gently extending the spine. The pose is also said to open the chest and help build upper body strength. Start the pose by placing yourself on all fours but with your hands slightly in front of you. Start lifting your knees and tailbone towards the ceiling. Push your upper body towards the floor the stretch the upper back and hold the position for up to a minute, breathing deeply. The pose is considered safe, but you may want to skip it if you suffer from arthritis, due to the added pressure on the hand and ankle joints.
The locust pose will provide you with a deep stretch in your back, while also firming your buttocks. This is also the only posture in this sequence to involve a back bend. Start by lying flat on your stomach with your forehead pressed against the floor. Place your hands behind you and at an inhale, lift your head, torso, arms, and legs away from the floor. Stay in this position for as long as you feel comfortable, and unlock at an exhale.
You need strength and balance to tackle back problems completely. This is why we’ve included the eagle pose here, but also because this pose helps stretch the shoulders and upper back. Stand straight up, bend your knees slightly and lift your left foot, placing it behind your knee and keeping your balance on your right foot. Place your arms right in front of you, your upper arms parallel to the floor, and your forearms wrapped around each other.
Back pain is the most common type of pain, accounting for the majority of doctor’s visits. Taking pain medication can help ease back pain, but you will experience some side effects. This is why it is a good idea to take a more natural approach to treating back pain, such as with regular yoga practice. The postures listed here provide gentle stretching to the back muscles, helping improve posture and reducing the stress caused by back pain.
Sophie Addison is a blogger and skincare expert, and is passionate about sharing her knowledge. She has written about everything from wrinkles to joint pain treatment, weight loss, and fitness news. She loves to garden and listen to music. Contact Sophie on Facebook or Pinterest.
Interested in learning more about the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!