Several years after I began teaching yoga, I became aware of a daily gnawing, dull, aching soreness in my low back. And I began to notice that this soreness was exacerbated by certain yoga stretches, especially if I was pushing too hard, in spite of pain. Obviously pushing past the point of pain is not a good idea, but sometimes we need to learn things the hard way. Such was the case with me and my low back issues. Things came to a head when I was determined to learn a very vigorous and physically challenging form of yoga known as Ashtanga as taught by the late Patabbhi Jois. I had to quit after my second or third weekly class due to low back pain in one of the basic postures in the sequence, the upwand dog. My body was telling me – NOT to do this posture. I had to practice at least a half hour of gentle stretches after each class, in order to minimize the strain I felt from practicing Ashtanga.
When I started being able to count on having mild low back pain and discomfort every night at a prescribed time, I realized something had to be change. I could no longer ignore the fact that my back was injured. I decided to use everything I had learned in yoga, pilates and internet research and I went on a mission to heal my own back pain. After 6 months on my mission I was pain free and have remained that way for well over 10 years. In today’s video I will share some basic and very simple, easy stretches you can begin to do right now as therapy for soreness and strain of your low back. I will outline 4 stages towards full healing. Keep in mind that you should not begin this regimen while you are suffering from acute low back pain. Wait until the pain subsides and you are give the go ahead from your doctor or physical therapist. However if your symptoms are mild like mine were, you may choose to try my regimen to avoid having to see a doctor. In my case I avoided seeking medical attention by committing to a simple program of daily stretching and core strengthening exercises.
Here are the 3 stages:
- Stage 1 – Gentle stretches, fully supported by the earth beneath you.
- Stage 2 – Gentle stretches and core strengthening exercises, supported by the earth.
- Stage 3 – Core strengthening back bends, supported by the earth and bridge posture
- Stage 4 – More vigorous core strengthening and deeper back bends no longer dependent on the floor for support.
I recommend staying at Stage 1 for one month before adding the Stage 2 exercises. Continue with Stage 2 for a month before adding the Stage 3 exercises. For most people once you have achieved Stage 3, you may stay with that program indefinitely. Only proceed to Stage 4 if you have aspirations to excel in yoga. I recommend spending from 15 – 30 min / day on these yoga exercises to heal your back and become free of pain.