Modifications for Practicing Yoga With Back Pain – Ekaminhale
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Modifications for Practicing Yoga With Back Pain


Fiona: Part of being a Yoga Practitioner is learning how to practice through the absent Flows of life and we all have moments where things are weak or our bodies are not quite behaving exactly as we might like to, and also our mind many times. These are the times when we have to resource ourselves in our practice. If you’re going through an injury and it’s so common for students not to show up and stop practicing, but this is when you need practice the most. And through the Vinyasa, through the breath- blood circulation happens, and it’s this circulation has very healing for the body. Clint is gonna tell his story of when his back- hit a back moment and his back seized up and he’ll share that with us .

Clint: So a couple of years ago I was, you know just  practicing as normal and everything was good. And came out of nowhere, I didn't see it coming. I ended up feeling a really strong pain in my back that literally like stop me from practice that instant. So what end up happening is that I had to go this process in the next couple of months, trying to reestablish and deal with that injury of which for a back thing it’s a little bit scary, that it’s different and you are not totally sure what’s happening.  I didn’t want to stop practicing but at the same time obviously I didn’t want to keep on going to pain and hurt myself. So with the help of Fiona, we came up with a practice that looked a lot different and when you know what regular practice looked like but it was therapeutic and it allowed me to practice every day and over the next couple of months, start to heal my back and but in the end I was able to come back to the level that’s helpful or beneficial and then we’re able to go back to practice.

Fiona: I remember it was rough several months, sweeping on the floor sometimes cause he really needs a hard surface. He modified his sun salutes down to his knees and he can show you an example of that .

So notice he’s working from his knees. This was a way for him to capture more bandha and more foundation. When he’s tall, he’s really tall and his limbs are quite long; so this kind of shortens his lever and made it easier to access his core.

You’ll notice that from downward dog he goes back to his knees rather than to standing. At that time of going from standing to seated, like an A cup to dway or from downward dog to standing, was to support his back. And this is really common for people with back injury so sometimes you just have to bring him down, make it work on the floor and overtime was able to stand up.

When the lower back is sensitive, for many students-- can you show the compression again? If you can see all of this skin and his shorts kinda gather in, this is bringing more attention  to his lower back  and he’s gonna be the opposite by really drawing towards the front; almost if I have my hand here is kind of aging there this stays nice and broad. We’re gonna need the same action happening and the feet stays nice and open when he does his core bends. So I flipped him around now and do a forward bent, with forward bent and someone’s dealing again with a back the tendency it kinda be like this form and I like to think as if it’s standing , when we’re standing- if we were standing like this, you’ll be standing with your feet up like this and that’s not necessarily how you want to stand. So we’re really trying to find an even platform. Iif you’re doing this alone and it’s hard to do it, I suggest using a friend. If you don’t have a friend, use a wall. And it works best if you are not on a sticky mat cause you’ll be able to straighten your legs, if you’re on a sticky mat you’ll get stuck.

And as he does this inner leg line gets really sharp and reinforced. If you’re alone, or if you can have a friend grab your feet-- or you could grab your feet yourself, and press strongly through those big toes. That’s an important connection to make and from there the energy’s coming right up and you’re really working in the full bandha when you got this action  happening to your feet. And this action as it presses here on the big toes it’s gonna be really therapeutic again in helping his back find a place .

We worked, we got nice beautiful pelvis here which is important when the lower back is compromised and you can see he’s not rounding he’s not leaning back. Then the other line where you want to become aware of is right here where my fingers are. So its all the way up. This is strong, this is strong, this is strong this is strong (points to parts of legs)-- all the way to mula bhanda. And  This is really good therapy for the back. So again the important things to remember is even if you have pain in particular we’re talking about back pain which Clint had 3 years ago, it doesn’t have to hold you back. You may just  have to slightly change your form of practice and remember to keep focusing on your breath, on the bhanda, on the drishti and the Vinyasa is essential. It will help with the circulation of blood which is going to create the healing that’s needed. And just enjoy the journey it will event flow. It will be hard times, it will be easier times, but keep practicing and all’s gonna be well as Guruji would say.

1 comment

  • Krit c

    Wow! I had no idea I was compromising my always aching lower back by over flexing my feet in sitting postures! I’m lucky because I’m only a year into my ashtanga home based practice, and I can adjust now (using the wall) before this bad habit can hinder me later on! Thanks for the help correcting a problem I didn’t even know I had!!! I always learn something from Ekaminhale – thank you so much!

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