Since we are now transitioning back to the reality of all-nighters and weekly “midterms,” it is more important than ever to hold on to that jolly disposition that a month of too much family, food and fun inspires.
Fretting away the quarter will not improve your performance in any arena, especially academics. Furthermore, stress can wreak havoc not only emotionally, but also physically.
Although debilitating back pain isn’t exactly prevalent among twentysomethings, slight symptoms can intensify over the years, progressing to an excruciating condition. In fact, back pain is the leading cause of work-related absences.
However, do not resign yourself to a lifetime of chronic back woes just yet. Research suggests that back pain is potentially treatable by regularly practicing yoga.
In a study featured in Spine, the test group that frequently attempted various yoga poses reported reduced pain, improved back function and even better moods.
In another study conducted by the University of York featured in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers split a group of approximately 300 participants suffering from back pain in half. Half were treated by doctors while the other half were enrolled in a boot camp led by 20 yoga instructors. The results suggest that yoga may be a more effective long-term solution than traditional methods since it not only alleviated back pain slightly better than pain killers alone, but it also increased back function and flexibility among participants — an added benefit not offered in pill form.
“We’re delighted that our trial has shown that yoga provides such positive benefits for people with chronic low back pain … This extremely common condition cannot be managed with painkillers alone and there is an urgent need to have non-drug therapies that sufferers can utilize in their own home,” Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said in a recent press release in response to the findings.
“The yoga program offers poses for pain-relief and mental calming; mobilizing, stretching, strengthening and relaxation; improving awareness of posture; education about how a healthy back functions; and positive mental focus. Yoga aims to treat the whole person — not just the physical,” yoga instructor Alison Trewhela said in a press release.
Although I admittedly have the flexibility of a turtle, I’ve noticed dramatic improvements to various aspects of my health after just a few sessions. Among all the hours we spend sitting at home or in class, we can all benefit from weekly yoga on the beach for both our physical and mental health. So next time you’re faced with a few extra minutes before lecture, get the blood flowing to your brain by practicing your Plow Pose or Downward Dog. Regardless of how uncomfortable these moves may be (for you or for people passing by), just stand tall in your tree pose and consider yourselves enlightened.
In conclusion, I wish you a new year and a new quarter of healthiness, happiness and wellness.