Tadasana: Mountain (Standing) Pose
This may seem an odd place to start, but in yoga the bringing attention to the feet, through the standing pose is an easy way of becoming conscious of what is happening in the rest of the body. I’d go so far as to say that it informs everything!
I’ve mentioned before, that I had a history of back pain that developed after starting to do Iyenga Yoga regularly, back in 2001. It happened a few months before 9/11 and you can read about it here.
But it wasn’t until 2003 that I took it seriously when it happened a second time, and then realised I needed to make some adjustments, which I did.
I found some wonderful Inner Heart Yoga teachers in my local area, the first two being Erica Rasmussen and James Jewell. They are both magnificent yoga teachers who specialise in other body-related therapies, she in Craniosacral therapy and he in Bowen.
What I learned with each of them was so valuable, because I loved yoga but when my back went out-of-whack it just felt too strong. They taught me another way and they are both Jenny Beeken Trained Teachers.
Getting On Board With Yourself
Firstly I learned to take it back a notch, and this form of yoga, which I highly recommend for anyone, takes you into the deeper area of connecting you with what you body needs, rather than straining to reach a posture without any ideas of whether your body wants to go there or not.
This is how I learned to get fully on-board with myself, and in hindsight it took getting injured to achieve it.
Erica teaches in Kent and James did too but then moved to Spain, and he’s runs various Yoga Retreats in various countries from there. I went to one of his retreats at Molina Del Ray, which is itself a magical venue, there’s quite a history behind it’s origins, which is a dedicated post alone to do it justice.
Connecting With Your Body
Although yoga poses often look the same, this style of yoga differs, because it’s not about reaching a hand to the ground if the body isn’t ready, and with many styles of yoga the ego takes over, competing with other class attendees or even yourself, I know because I’ve also been there. Instead this way teaches you how to be mindful as you move into, and out of a posture, and where to hold the posture to suit your needs on the day.
One day can differ from another, even the time of day makes a difference. The body warms up as we get into the day, and with this in mind it’s preferable for the more flexible among us to exercise earlier in the day in order prevent overdoing it, and the less flexible to exercise later in the day, when they can achieve more. This refers back to an earlier reference to body hyper-flexibility in relation and susceptibility to injury.
There are a number of poses to recommend for back pain, and if you look at many other sites, here’s a nice one that makes it look so easy. Her experience and story differs to mine.
When I was doubled up in pain, and recovering at that stage, I found yoga such a handy technique, even though I was limited in what I could do, alongside the usual hot and cold compresses, pain killers and ibuprofen.
There are however two or three poses I developed as my go-to’s during those times and would highly recommend them to anyone no matter how debilitated you are in the moment:
Just stand on a yoga mat or a space on the carpet or laminated floor and get a sense of your feet, start to tune into your feet, your legs, your hips, your shoulders, your head. Spend 5-mins plus on this just so that you come to stillness and start sensing your body, and it’s stance.
The child pose is gentle and cannot be overdone, because your back well and truly let’s you know where you can get to with it, listen to it, and don’t strain, it’ll be far more beneficial. You will see this pose with arms outstretched or by the side, do whichever feels the most comfortable. Do what you can you will become more flexed once you start where you are, instead of pushing yourself, which is how injury comes about.
This pose is quite strong, but very good for an injured back, because done gently it really stretches out the spine. If you’re injured you may not be able to move the head, which is meant to turn in the opposite direction to the legs, to get the full effect, and if it is too much, for now, just keep the head centred.
Those are my tips for getting your back into better shape, but gently does it all the way, as I’ve probably emphasised over again, it’s very easy to overdo it with yoga, but it’s such a wonderful technique there’s little need to make it into a sport, and is best approached for body awareness, rather than a competition.
Just to be clear I’m not trained as a yoga teacher, although my curiosity took me to take Jenny’s foundation year of training through another local yoga teacher. The information here is what I learned through my back and connected injuries.
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