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Yoga for Back Pain

Tom_OM2010-07-04 10:54:57 +0000 #1
Wow, I've been lurking and have realized I'm an ultra-newbie. The only Yoga I know is from a Kathy Smith video that I bought a long time ago.

I don't have a body type that is likely to ever become the super flexible pretzel-like kind of body that masters have. That's not my goal. My goal is to get relief from, and maybe even overcome, a problem with chronic back pain. I injured my back lifting weights over 20 years ago, and it's been a constant problem ever since. It's also caused a chronic headache condition. I take an antidepressant every day. I don't need it for depression. Oddly enough, one of the effects of the drug is to reduce or eliminate chronic headaches. It's helping, but its side effect is drowsiness, which definitely interferes with my life. It would be really nice to not have to take it.

Chiropractic treatment and massage therapy have been useful for temporary relief both of my back pain and my headaches, but it's only temporary. The pain always comes back. And the problem with those is that someone else has to do something for me. I can't do it myself. It's expensive also. I'm hoping to create a Yoga routine for myself that's specifically for treating my back and headache condition that will reduce or eliminate my need for medication, chiropractic, and massage.

I've already taken some action that has helped. I've eliminated almost all junk food from my vegetarian diet and have started a cardiovascular fitness program. I've begun to lose the weight I need to lose and have noticed fewer headaches and sneezing fits. When I feel a headache coming on, it's often accompanied by a sneezing fit. Junk food like soda and candy often trigger a headache and sneezing attack.

I'm also meditating regularly. I don't know Yoga meditation. I use a Buddhist style with a mandala and some self-hypnosis techniques. I can eliminate a headache by going deep into state, but that relief only lasts if the headache is a minor tension one. The severe migraines that I get are only relieved while I'm in state. When I come out, the headache returns.

The economy is tough right now. I don't have a large budget to hire a Yoga specialist to give me regular lessons. I need to create my routine on my own. I'll need to learn from affordable DVDs, books, web sites, etc. In my web searches, I did find a DVD about Yoga for back pain:

Gary Kraftsow's Viniyoga Therapy for the Back: www.viniyoga.com/viniyogadvd.html

Does anyone know if this set of videos is good? Or do you know of other videos I should get? Although I cannot afford to hire an instructor for regular tutorials, I can afford one or two sessions. The plan is to learn as much as I can on my own via the DVDs, books, and web pages and then get together with an instructor who can help me tweak it.

I very much appreciate any advice that is shared. I am suffering daily. If I can somehow create my own relief from my pain, it will bring an enrichment that is beyond words. It will be like getting my life back.


Techne2010-07-04 11:08:58 +0000 #2
I'm sorry to hear you've already decided against working with a qualified teacher -- that'd be the safest route. Even with a qualified teacher though, you'd have to watch yourself and take it slowly, building strength (esp. core strength) and flexibility without kicking anything out of place. While you don't get to neglect anything when making a whole body change like this, be especially certain to give your hips plenty of time and movement. Also, wonder about the support your shoes are giving you in minute-to-minute life.

oh, and talk to your MD about the timing for your antidepressant pill. If you can get the serotonin-melatonin cycle to make you sleepy at bedtime that's the most helpful.
A Better Me2010-07-04 11:43:33 +0000 #3
I'm sorry to hear of your suffering. I too have chronic back issues and over the last 2 years have used yoga to help ease my pain. There are however a few postures that aggravate my problem, so I have learned to modify poses so as to not hurt myself. Also my teachers know of my problem, so they keep an eye out for me.

I feel yoga has helped me become stronger, not just physically but mentally and that the extension and expansion I strive for is a great relief to my compressed joint in the T12 area of my spine.

I would just like to add that although you may not be able to hire a "yoga specialist" most yoga studio's in our area hold weekly Karma classes , that are pay what you can. It helps those who may not otherwise be able to experience a yoga class (guided by a teacher) participate. You may wish to check this out with your local studios' before investing in DVD's and the like. Nothing replaces the guidance of a qualified , caring yoga teacher! You can then take what you learn there to your mat at home and practice daily or whenever you like.

Best of luck to you .

Peace & Joy,

Callie
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 12:07:02 +0000 #4
You are likely to learn a great deal about who you are from the sort of injury and subsequent pain you outline. Gary's work is very sound and Gary himself is a joy to be around and listen to. I have not tried the tape so I cannot speak to the efficacy of the program.
wendy2010-07-04 12:30:44 +0000 #5
The Yoga Journal website has several articles on back pain, including poses with a therapeutic focus.

www.yogajournal.com/...ic_focus/t_back_pain

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