Yoga Tip: Heal ailing low back


This week I observed several studio members grousing about low back pain. Hmmmm. I thought to myself … I wonder if these individuals are rounding their upper lumbar/thoracic spine (low to mid back) when pulling in forward bends … well, if you were to cast a vote on this one, do you think the yoga was healing or aggravating their back pain? One individual has been practicing at Yoga Passion off and on for 18 months. The other person is relatively new (less than 3 month). In both cases these gals were literally pulling themselves out of alignment in postures which when done properly would help strengthen the lower spine.

During a normal yoga class I devoted extra attention to correcting their misalignment … in certain postures such as forward bend in Half Moon, Standing Separate Leg Stretching, & Patchimotanasana I advise anyone with nagging low back pain to:

1. Bend their knees more

2. Extend their sternum away from their public bone, using the same pulling action but without rounding the shoulders or spine.

3. Think wide shoulders/collarbone as opposed to shoulders rolling forward or up to earlobes.

4. Engage Latissimos Dorsi muscles (wings under the armpits) by squeezing shoulder blades down toward lower back.

5. Create micro-movements consistent with tucking lower spine forward and extension rather than rounding mid-lower-upper spine.

In simple terms Bikram HotCore Yoga helps thousands of ordinary Americans with painful chronic low back injuries discover and build core strength. However paying attention to small details becomes even more important for people dealing with injuries. Developing proper alignment in yoga practice can make the difference between eliminating chronic pain and regaining a spring in your step. Conversely, ignoring alignment either from the get-go or allowing a yoga practice fundamentals to erode through haste or lethargy is tantamount to purchasing a brand new 2004 Mercedes, removing all but one lug nut from each tire, and wondering why the car doesn’t drive right. The wheels will turn for a while but eventually the car will make disturbing noises and one or more wheels will come off the car. The driver might suit Mercedes for negligence. But no one from Mercedes removed the lug nuts or was consulted about the abnormal sounds. Practicing Bikram HotCore Yoga is like hopping behind the wheel of top-of-the-line brand new top-line Mercedes. If you pay attention to basic operation procedures, you should experience extraordinary results. If you don’t, then talk to someone who can point you in the right direction. With the spanking new Mercedes, I would call the dealer. When it comes to yoga, talk to me. The staff at Yoga Passion is here to serve you. If chronic pain crops up, take the time to investigate the matter by scheduling a private yoga class. Invest in your yoga practice. Learn proper alignment so you enjoy the benefits of a strong vigorous yoga practice. Each human body has nuisances particular to the time and place in a person’s life.

When teaching I work the entire room seeking out individuals whose alignment might benefit from individual correction. However there are limits to how much attention I can give to one person. After class both of the studio members mentioned above thanked me for rattling their cage … getting them to pay more attention to details … slow down … they felt so much better, stronger, & free from pain. Of course there are people who attend yoga classes at Yoga Passion and other yoga studios who blame the yoga for their miseries. Or claim that yoga is just a bunch of hype. Well, for them, perhaps it is case of not giving the yoga a fair chance or allowing the yoga to change their approach to physical activity. From thousand of classes of personal practice and teaching I know that Bikram HotCore Yoga offers so many therapeutic rehab options. And I know that other styles of yoga also offer wonderful possibilities when taught with skillful means and lots of love. I do strongly recommend that individuals who experience ongoing pain schedule private yoga classes every 3 months in the first year of practice. Why not get one-on-one attention to make sure the 2004 Mercedes is tuned properly?

For those of you with budget restrictions, Yoga Passion will host a Bikram HotCore Yoga Posture Clinic in June. Stay tuned for details. Cost is $35 for 3 hours of detailed instruction, Q&A, benefits. Everyone who has attended past Bikram Yoga Posture Clinics has given us rave reviews. I hope you will attend. And always I invite you to affirm what is working in your life with those ears to hear. It is so important to own our knowledge by sharing what works.