‘Abdominal Breathing leads to back pain’

This constant complaints from both my novice and long practicing students was becoming a matter of concern for a while now. In fact, many who practice ‘Kapalbhati’ also complain about back pain. Kapalbhati is also an abdominal breathing. Hence some connection did seem to exist between back pain and abdominal breathing.

0A8A7797Yogic world swears by the practice of ‘Abdominal Breathing’ for optimal benefits. The logical argument for ‘abdominal breathing’ is that when a baby is born, it breaths involving its abdomen. So it was an obvious inference that abdominal breathing is the most natural and effective mode of breathing. But the persistent and continuous complaints of back pain were a cause of concern and needed immediate action.

It was an interesting journey to get into the root of the problem. The results proved to be an eye opener:

  • Wrong postural assumption was the obvious issue. When this was corrected, it did reduce the back pain but did not eliminate it completely in many cases. Despite the postural correction, students with weak back and core muscles continued to complain. The understanding that dawned was – practitioners without a strong core and back resort to ‘slouching’ after some duration into the practice. This results in back pain.
  • As the name indicates, abdominal breathing predominately engages your abdomen. There is no involvement of the spine. The spine needs to remain neutral and firm throughout. On the contrary, however, repeated forward expansion of abdomen during inhalation unconsciously ends up engaging the lower back too into forward pull and thereby, into lumbar misalignment. With practitioners, who have extra flab around their tummy, this process of unconscious forward pull of lower back becomes even more prominent and stressful leading to back pain.
  • Coming to the popular example of abdominal breathing by a new born – a new born’s spine is ‘C’ shaped compared to the ‘S’ shape of an adult. The ‘C’ shape seems more conducive to abdominal breathing. Not only that, the abdominal breathing for a new born happens in a lying down position where the back has a broad support of the floor. If an adult chooses to do abdominal breathing lying in a supine position, they might be able to do away with this complaint.

Tackling this issue, so that it is not a constant and recurring struggle is of critical importance.

Check my next blog for further details – how to eliminate this problem from your life.

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Shammi Gupta, founder of Shammi’s Yogalaya holds an MA in Yoga Shastra, is a certified Yogic Therapist and Naturopath, has completed an Advanced Yoga Course and holds a Diploma in Yoga Education from Mumbai University. She is a certified trainer from American College of Sports Medicine and holds an MBA in HR & MBA in Finance from The University of Akron, Ohio, USA. She conducts Health Awareness Workshops for Corporate, Yogasana Workshops for Athletes and Yoga Therapy Workshops on different medical issues for patients. Among the celebrities Shammi trains are eminent personalities from the film and television industry and corporate world.

4 thoughts on “‘Abdominal Breathing leads to back pain’”

  1. Good research work into your practice. This is the problem with people who do not have in-depth knowledge about Swara Yoga and start finding reasons to blame in on Kapalabathi. Abdominal breathing is just like doin asana….when we do asana there are counter asanas and when we do breathing there are also counter breathing…the science of Pratikriyasana explains this clearly. After performing Kapalabathi which has direct effects on our pressure and heart…increasing abdominal pressure and envigorating the hepatic portal nerves we must practise counter postures to neutralise the negative effects from this practices…whenever we do anthing there are always duality effects postive and negative, the teacher should know to recognise these effects and know how to enhance positive and neutralise the negative. People who are new comers should not try this but teachers are stupid enough to start teaching this, those flabby people…fat and muscles are two different body tissues…that is the reason yoga teachers should have good functional anatomy and physiology knowledge to understand this. You need to do asanas to strengthen the core first …after 6 months start teaching kapalabathi….first start with normal samavritti breathing….Patanjali has explained it so well and clear…yama, niyama , asana then pranayama….so do asanas into breath work and wise versa…in asthanga yoga of Patanjali only 1 limb is about the physical aspect the rest of 7 limbs involves the mind, so this must be understood well by teachers and for sure kapalabhati is not for beginners and weak abs. Pls understand this ancient science full of wisdom. So the truth from where did the yoga teacher get the ttc certificate from? This is the golden question and not the yogic practise. The Science is perfect.

  2. Pingback: Why Thoracic / Chest Breathing is a must to avoid back pain…… – Shammi's Yogalaya

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