Why study yoga for back pain?

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Articles | 0 comments

Why study yoga for back pain?

I can help you. Why am I confident? I have been teaching yoga for over 30 years. I started specializing in back pain in 1990, so that’s been a while ago. And, I studied all the programs out there: The Wise Way to a Healthy Back, the San Francisco Back Stabilization Program; got certified by the National Safety Council as a back power trainer; studied yoga, studied yoga, studied yoga; healed my own back problems; managed my own SI problems; trained in yoga for scoliosis. So, it’s not ended for me—it’s an ongoing thing. Over that time, I think I feel pretty clear that what I offer is gonna give you a sense of direction about how to reeducate your body, your muscles, your posture, so you have a “tool” to manage what comes up.

And, most of my students who have had serious back pain have been like my friend, Jimmy—who work with their bodies, so being laid up for 8 days doesn’t help pay the mortgage. And, most all of them would say to me after a year or two coming to classes—that it’s what you do at home that makes the difference.

What happens is, over time if you got laid up for seven days, after six months, you only get laid up for three days if you have an incident. After a year, you only get laid up for a day. You know exactly what to do, you do it, you’re back on your feet again, and off you go.

As a young person, I understood instinctively the biomechanics of the body and how to get all the muscles working together, and then I have had some very good teachers. But what time has taught me is that repetition of an activity—even cooking or putting on your coat, over time—30, 40, 50 years, has an effect…and that our bodies are very much adapted for survival.

Isn’t it interesting that there could be over time a biomechanical pattern that sets us up for back problems? It’s good that we know this, right? We’re already very smart, because we know that it didn’t just happen overnight. Even though there could be an incident that set it off perhaps, the problem is deeper than that.

Sometimes even the bones change shape in our body to accommodate the stresses, because it is living tissue. That is what happens sometimes in scoliosis. The scoliosis is there, and the muscles stay tight in a certain area, and the bones start shape-shifting to match the new curve. That is how some people get bone spurs, and bone spurs are problematic.

On the other hand, we can take our muscle structure, we can take our ligament structure, we can open things up, we can balance things; and then make the muscles strong, and they will tend to hold those bones where they need to be.

And, we can go at the yoga from many different avenues, because yoga’s very vast, so we can just go at it from a biomechanical standpoint.

I can’t say that this is totally fool proof, because everybody is an individual.

I feel confident that 85 percent of you are going to get something really valuable that is really going to contribute to your life.

Exercise Spells Relief: People with chronic back pain test for lower levels of endorphins along their spine. Any regular exercise, especially yoga, increases the release of endorphins from the large muscles, decreasing a person’s sensitivity to their pain and improving their mental outlook.

Stability and Ease in Asana: Work to your edge, that point of resistance, keep your breath long, and encourage questioning—self questioning, self study. But the best thing is that you need some more endorphins…right now, right?

Consistent, uninterrupted practice over time brings the goal of yoga close at hand. That’s Sutra 114. So, you have to be consistent, because that is what works.

Lots of questions to ask. And, you know, it’s everybody’s own mystery school. It’s all y’all’s path. If you’re on the yoga path, you’re on the yoga path. And, that’s part of the work, is to learn—to get to know yourself better. See what makes you tick, and go closer to your home, come closer to home base. Mr. Iyengar would say that if we could just become really good human beings, through the practice of yoga, we would be a healthy cell in the body of humanity. If we could just overcome our own fears, our own doubts, the things that make us angry; if we could just find a way for acceptance, allowance, kindness, we would be a healthy cell in the body of humanity. That’s the yoga path, we’re giving a gift to each other, which is the good news about yoga.

To truly heal our backs implies adjustments to our movement, thought, sleep, and eating patterns. This necessary lifestyle adjustment is expressed in many various books on the subject, so I won’t go into it here. The book I’m getting ready to publish, ‘Healing Our Backs With Yoga™: A Layperson’s Guide to Healing Your Back’, is intended to outline progressions and series of poses that create freedom of movement in the various joints of the body, relieve pain, and improve strength and stability.


Attend Lillah’s workshop Healing Our Back With Yoga™ August 22-24, 2014


Disclaimer: Application is everything. Please proceed with caution. When unclear about the results you are gaining, please consult a yoga instructor with experience in this area or a medical professional.

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