SOURCE: Pranamaya Yoga

December 17, 2007 14:36 ET

Ten Minutes a Day Can Keep Back Pain Away

Leading Yoga Therapist Gary Kraftsow Provides Tips

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - December 17, 2007) - The holiday season often brings to mind shopping, parties, visiting family and winter sports, but paying special attention to your back during this time is more important than ever. Every winter holiday season, approximately 1.9 million slip-and-fall injuries occur across the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of these injuries are to the back and result from people falling off ladders while decorating. Other potential back injuries can be caused by carrying heavy packages or luggage, shoveling snow, stretching at odd angles to decorate, standing in heels for hours at parties and sitting for hours while traveling.

Gary Kraftsow, founder of American Viniyoga Institute and leading yoga therapist, developed the protocol for a clinical study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study concluded that Viniyoga is a safe and effective treatment for chronic back pain, superior to exercise classes for this purpose. This study represents the first time that yoga of any style has been validated as an effective treatment for back pain in a controlled clinical study.

Kraftsow recommends spending just minutes a day to avoid injury and back pain this holiday season with some specific, simple yoga postures that prepare the body for the day and realign it at night. Perform these exercises in this order:

--  Cakravakasana (to warm up the body and to gently stretch lower back)
    Get down on hands and knees, with shoulders vertically above wrists and
    with hips above the knees. On inhale: Lift chest up from belly. Lead with
    chest, keeping chin slightly down. Avoid compressing low back; rather, feel
    chest expanding. On exhale: Gently contract belly, rounding low back and
    bringing chest toward thighs.  Round low back without collapsing chest over
    belly. Avoid increasing curvature of upper back. Let chest lower toward
    thighs sooner than hips toward heels. Repeat eight times.
--  Bhujangasana (to arch upper back while mobilizing arms and to warm up
    and stabilize lower back) Lie on belly, forehead on floor, with elbows bent
    and palms on floor in line with diaphragm, fingers facing forward. On
    inhale: Lift chest, arching back. On exhale: Return to starting position.
    Repeat six times.
--  Dvipada Pitham (to relax upper and lower back and to stretch between
    belly and thighs) Lie on back with arms down at sides, knees bent, and feet
    on floor, slightly apart and comfortably close to buttocks. On inhale:
    Press down on feet, raising pelvis up toward ceiling, keeping chin down,
    until neck is gently flattened on floor, while raising arms overhead to
    floor behind. Lift spine, vertebra by vertebra, from bottom up. On exhale:
    Return to starting position. Unwind spine, coming down vertebra by
    vertebra. Repeat eight times.
--  Apanasana (to gently stretch and relax lower back) Lie on back with
    both knees bent toward chest and feet off floor. Place each hand on its
    respective knee. On exhale: Pull thighs gently but progressively toward
    chest. On inhale: Return to starting position. Repeat eight times.

These are some of the same postures Kraftsow included in the two-DVD set of Viniyoga Therapy programs he created with Pranamaya, Inc. ( These DVDs cover understanding back pain, how to safely perform postures and movement, and focused practice for each target area -- upper back, neck, shoulders, low back, sacrum and hips.

Be conscious of how you bend, lift and carry items and don't overexert yourself; you only create stress on your muscles by carrying things that are too heavy or bulky for you to manage, Kraftsow warns. With an estimated four out of five people experiencing back pain in their lifetimes, according to the Mayo Clinic, prevention is optimal.

Kraftsow says, "Everyone would benefit from some simple yoga moves. It's like brushing or flossing your teeth; you don't need long classes. Spend five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. It's like simple back care hygiene. The key is consistency."

For more information on Gary Kraftsow, the Viniyoga Therapy DVDs or Pranamaya, visit

About Pranamaya, Inc.:

Pranamaya was founded in 2000 with the purpose of collaborating with the world's best teachers to create compelling mind-body media products that inspire vibrant, integral health and authentic self-transformation. The company continues to add yoga and other mind-body programs to its media library in an effort to keep their customers engaged and informed of the most effective practices available.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Lisa Elia PR
    Phone: 310-479-0216
    Fax: 888-548-5950
    e-mail: Email Contact