Yoga class provides relief for back pain

Barbara Hootman

Yoga classes aren’t uncommon in Black Mountain, but one that is getting attention is Yoga for Back Care created by Allison McLeod, a yoga instructor and co-founder of the Yoga Movement.

Lower back pain is the second most common reason for visiting a doctor, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (respiratory problems are number one). Back problems affect spinal flexibility and strength and often result in pain. Two thirds of Americans have lower back pain at some time in their lives, according to a survey published by The American Physical Therapy Association.

The Yoga for Back Care class has alleviated Bob Osmundsen’s chronic back pain and has helped him sleep deeper and longer, he said. He’d never before taken a yoga class in his life. He’s been in this one for almost three months.

“It has been a most pleasant experience,” he said. He tracks his sleep with a device that downloads information to his smart phone. The data tells him there has been a significant improvement in his deep sleep.

“I am really pleased with the results of the class,” Osmundsen said. “The instructor is extremely patient going over the positions repeatedly.”

Marlene Tynan, another Yoga for Back Care participant, said she has regained two inches in her height. “I think it is due to the stretching and strengthening of the muscles,” said Tynan, who has been practicing yoga for three years. “We hold the positions for a long time, and I think that that helps.”

The mid to low back pain she has suffered for years is now gone, she said.

McLeod has taught yoga for a decade and practiced massage therapy for five years.

“I was always working on people’s backs,” McLeod said. “I realized that the most beneficial thing I could do for people was to teach them how to move. Yoga’s mental practice rests on focus and concentration. The integrative effect is that you become more calm and grounded in your body.”

McLeod used a strategy of strengthening deep core muscles in developing the Yoga for Back Care Class.

“It is practical and specific,” she said. “People do whatever they can, slowly and at a therapeutic pace. “We use chairs as props to give people stability if they need it. The chair is also used for seated position exercises. It comes in handy for standing exercises where balance can be a problem.”

The class, designed for all ages, also helps deepen lung capacity and provides a break from constant thoughts.

Yoga for Back Care

Meets 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cheshire Fitness Club, Black Mountain. Classes are $12 for nonmembers and free for club members. Supplies provided.