Is there really a benefit in using goat yoga for back pain?
Upward goat on a downward dog? Yes, goat yoga is a real thing, and, while it is not based on some recently discovered branch of the ancient practice of yoga, it is becoming very popular. There is a farm in Oregon where the waiting list has reached to over 2,000 people willing to pay to do their yoga class in a barn or pasture while little goats cavort around, if not on top of, them.
But does this have anything to do with relieving back pain?
Yoga (minus the inclusion of barnyard animals) has been popular and an accepted part of life in other parts of the world for thousands of years. Recently, this practice has been gaining a lot of momentum here in the U.S. Currently, more than 20 million Americans engage in yoga for a wide range of reasons. While some are seeking a means for reaching spiritual enlightenment, many others are turning to yoga for relief from a variety of aches and pains, including back pain.
Western medicine has been slow to adopt yoga and other forms of complementary or alternative types of therapy. That has been changing, and, today, many medical practices are either bringing experienced and certified practitioners of yoga, acupuncture, massage, tai chi and other modalities into their practice or partnering with them through a referral network. A recent trend is finding some American physicians, themselves, undergoing training in these non-invasive but effective treatment options.
Why the Shift in Attitude Toward Complementary Medicine?
Back pain affects 8 out of every 10 Americans at some point during their lifetime. For some, this will be short-term or sporadic and for others the pain and accompanying loss of ability will be chronic. Physicians have come to recognize that while back pain seems to be a fairly universal experience, the response to treatment has not been. Traditional forms of medications and surgery have proven successful for some but not others, and we are all familiar with the opiate-related nightmare associated with the overprescribing of these dangerous drugs, often for back pain.
What today’s physicians recognize is that there is simply not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to back pain, which is actually a very complex issue. In addition, more and more patients are actively seeking alternatives to drugs and surgery. This has led to a much more integrative approach to treatment; combining the best of conventional and complementary techniques to find the methods that work best for each individual patient.
Additional Benefits of Yoga
Besides being effective in helping to relieve back pain, yoga is a technique that comes with a little lagniappe, a word frequently used in New Orleans to mean “a little something extra. Some of the benefits attributed to practicing yoga may include:
- Lowering of blood pressure
- Reducing stress
- Less need for drugs and medications to maintain mood and anxiety levels
- More energy and less fatigue
- Improved mental abilities, especially focus and concentration
- Lowering of resting pulse rate
So, how do goats fit into all of this? Obviously, they don’t. It can be argued that “maintaining your breath” during the session while a goat is standing on your back says something about your level of concentration, but yoga is quite effective without the inclusion of little hooves dancing on your spine or trying to eat your yoga mat.
On the other hand, time spent with these charming little intruders seems to make people happy. What could be the downside to that?
At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physicians are committed to more than just treating your symptoms. We strongly believe that each individual is best served through an integrative treatment plan. We focus on finding the underlying cause and providing non-surgical, evidenced-based solutions tailored to your specific condition and needs. If you are experiencing back pain or have questions about yoga or any of our treatment methods or services, we invite you to schedule a consultation by using our convenient online form by clicking here.