Bad back? You can still do yoga


Many people suffer from back issues, and nearly every person in the world will encounter significant back pain more than once over the course of life. The good news is you don’t have to avoid doing yoga if you have a bad back. There are certain precautions you may need to take, and we’ll get to that shortly.

How injuries can help a yoga practice?

As a yoga teacher, I like to encourage students to get acquainted with their muscles while they are feeling good. Many times, we don’t even remember we have certain muscles until they get hurt; that’s when we feel them all the time.

When you have an injury, you naturally pay more attention to your body. You think more carefully about each movement you make because you want to protect yourself. You move more cautiously and you think through the movement a millimeter at a time and you tend to be mindful about coordinating your breath with your movements. The easiest example is when you’ve aggravated a muscle between two ribs-or when you’ve messed up your back.

Some poses to help a bum back

An excellent yoga pose for anyone, bad back or not, is Supta Padangusthasana, or reclining hand-to-big toe pose. This pose has multiple benefits to the injured and uninjured. It opens the hips, stretches the inner thighs and hamstrings. Loosening these muscles helps eliminate improper pelvic tilt, which can cause compression and hyperextension of the spine, both of which can cause back injuries.

It’s also good for sciatica

This pose is the same as a forward bend, but lying down.  If you have a bulging disc and bend too far forward, then the disc can edge out further!  So until it is healed, stick to this version. The same pose also allows the hips and legs to stretch while letting the lower back flatten onto the mat and relax. All of the muscles that support the junction of the spine and pelvis are restored to their normal length and helps put the pelvis back into its proper position, which makes this pose an excellent one for addressing sciatica.

A word about back bends-precautions you should take

If have herniated disks, you do need to use extreme caution with back bends. Of course, one does not need to do really deep back bends to reap many of the benefits that back bends can give us. You can get many befits from the first phase of mountain back bend without going all the way to upward facing bow pose.

Half camel pose, and Half Cobra, done slowly and consciously, are other safe poses that, with a bit of caution, can be practiced if you’re caring for a bad back. A back bend is really based on stretching and extending your front. The most important thing to remember is to use the stomach muscles to lift the rib cage.

The stomach muscles extend and bend as they work so that the back remains relaxed and bends gently. This is the same, general technique used in Warrior I to protect the back in that pose. You can also choose a gentle bridge pose, which is an excellent choice if you’re caring for a back injury. In this pose, you are required to lift from the stomach before the back can bend at all, so it’s a great choice for protecting the back while still doing an exhilarating back bend.

When to avoid twists

Herniated disks, as well as slipped disks, are both reasons to be very careful with spine twists. You will want to avoid deep or aggressive twists, and seated, moving twists should be done very slowly and keep the rotation at less than 45 degrees.  Here’s a gentle supported twist.

Most other poses are a go

Basic yoga poses such as tree, triangle and the three warrior poses can be practiced by anyone whose injury is reasonably under control, and can be mixed into different vinyasas to help keep your practice new and fun. There are also plenty of hip openers that feel good and, once you’ve developed technique, will enable you to develop connections with muscles you never knew you had, and protect them from new injuries as well.

Yogasync Me!  There’s no need to spend another moment suffering!  Begin the path to a healthy back right now:

Yoga for Back Ache



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About Vincent Gerbino

Vincent Gerbino is a YogaFit™ Certified Yoga Teacher. “Yoga isn’t what I do, it is who I am.” Yoga completely changed my life for the better. Soon after I started my own practice, I said to myself that I had to eventually become a teacher so I could give to the world what Yoga gave to me. In 2006, Vincent began teaching Yoga, five years after he began his own practice. Vincent is also a trained barefoot runner, a co-organizer of the Boulder Barefoot Running Club, and enjoys bicycling, rollerblading and hiking.

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