Yoga exercises reduce back pain, make spine stronger and flexible and also keep our digestive and reproductive systems healthy
Ms Pradhan, 58, one of my friends from school, was a workaholic. She worked in front of a computer for 12 hours a day, sometimes non-stop. Whenever I invited her for lunch, she would decline saying that she was too busy or had a deadline the next day.
Eventually, I could not stand her excuses anymore. I told her, “Now you are too busy and cannot just enjoy your time with friends. What will you do when you become sick because of non-stop work? Work is good, but your life should not revolve around work all the time. If you don’t take care of yourself, you may not even be able to work after a while.” She did not take my advice. After six months, she started suffering from severe back pain. She could not even move properly and could not complete her works on deadlines. She was finally forced to rest completely for four months.
She was depressed that she was not able to meet her deadlines. One fine day, she decided to visit a physiotherapist, started doing Yoga, went to India to meet her family, and finally enjoyed some time for herself. After eight months, she was able to go back to work. Now she has realized that she should take care of herself so that she could stay healthy.
She also has realized that work is for life. She has understood that to work in full stamina there should be a balance between work and rest. Too much work may have a negative impact on the quality of her work and also her life.
I wish many of us would understand that physical and mental health is important. Only doctors and medicine cannot make us healthy. We have to take care of our health ourselves and we have to pay particular attention to our diets and exercise and get proper rest.
Benefits of Yoga
I am writing this as the world is celebrating International Yoga Day this Friday so that each of us would understand that we don’t have to suffer from various health problems if we at least give some time to ourselves. Many of us also suffer from health problems because of bad posture caused by working continuously in the office for long hours—day by day, week by week for many months. Eventually the back muscles get tired and we start to experience pain. But still many women try to adjust it, popping the pain medication and showing to their bosses and family members that women can work in many fields simultaneously, only to suffer later on.
Once I was discussing the importance of proper health care with a group of women. I said: “If there is lack of oxygen in the air, we cannot breathe properly. In the same way, after working for a long time, our back lacks oxygen. Back pain means you need to provide this oxygen with rest.” One woman said: “I have an oxygen cylinder at my home as my mother in-law has asthma. Can I take oxygen from that cylinder and put on my back when I have back ache?” I laughed and explained that it was just an example and that what I meant was to keep our bodies healthy, we must rest from work and also exercise regularly, even if it is only for 15 minutes a day. I also explained that weight gain could also cause backache so one should pay attention to diet and lifestyle.
After seeing many of friends suffering from knee and back pain, I decided some years ago that I would work to enjoy and would never be a workaholic. I have been doing some yoga poses every morning for at least 45 minutes to one hour. All of them are very simple and can be learnt easily.
Know your poses
One of the Yoga poses one can follow is Hastpadasana (means to touch feet with your hands). It may seem difficult at first but with time it becomes easy and it can be done in five minutes’ time in the office after working two hours.
Ido margari asana or cat pose is helpful for back pain. Surya Namaskaar is the asana that, if done regularly, helps to increase stamina and strengthens back muscle. Another asana for strong back is janu sirasana (touching the knees with head in a sitting position) and ustraasana (camel pose). Some other poses that help to reduce back pain are bhungna asana (cobra pose) and pravatasana (downward-facing dog). They are easy exercises. They make the spine stronger and flexible and also keep our digestive and reproductive systems healthy.
At the same time, I make sure that I consume five to ten grams of flaxseed and sesame seeds every day so that I could get enough calcium, omega 3 fatty acid and some fiber. I feel good now that some of my friends have started to do Yoga, consume flaxseeds and feel that they have gained stamina to work. They also take rest and do not feel sad if their work report is late by 24 hours.
Ms Pradhan is much better now. She does Yoga everyday and regularly goes to physiotherapy. Though it is an added expense for her, it relieves her of back pain and she can continue enjoying her work. I hope many people will learn lessons from my friend’s case and will start putting their health first.