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way forward for bulging lumbar discs?

JenW2010-07-04 12:16:28 +0000 #1

I've been practicing yoga for 2 years now and I love it. However, I've always had a slight nagging pain in the back of my left knee in forward bends. I went to the doctor about it early on and they ran lots of tests and found nothing wrong with the knee itself.

I recently decided I wanted to learn more and to do the 200-hour TCC, I stepped up my yoga practice in order to feel ready, however the knee pain got worse and was bothering me more. I visited an osteopath who has discovered the pain originates in my back. I have three bulgind disc in my lumbar spine which press on the nerve. He told me to basically quit yoga (and take up golf!) and said that I shouldn't do any forward bends at all.

Does anyone have experience of this? I feel really depressed that I made the decision to make yoga a big part of my life and I have been told to give it up. Also, I'm only 27 and feel I am way too young to have such physical restrictions.

Thanks in advance for your help. Namaste.

Hubert2010-07-04 12:32:10 +0000 #2
Yoga has plenty of other stuff, besides forward bends. Why don't you leave them alone, for a while ?
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 12:24:46 +0000 #3
Hello Jen,

Golf? Really? How odd to recommend an inherently imbalanced activity (swinging a club using only your dominant side). Someone should play more golf but it shouldn't be you <wink>

Disk injuries like the one you mention often heal. However they need to be loved, cared for, and nurtured in order for that to happen. So a logical shift in your activities would be mandated for a certain period of time. In addition a tidying up of your diet and lifestyle would support your body's own healing process. And I mean clean, clean, clean. Not this "I eat pretty healthy" nonsense that's tossed my way so often. No caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or sugar. Those are the bare-bones basics.

Forward bends are contra-indicated with this sort of thing in your spine. Rounding the spine in forward bends tends to squeeze things toward the flesh of the back body. Since your discs are already going that way it's not a smart move to force them farther.

You can however have a robust yoga practice, in fact a robust asana practice too. But not one with things that exacerbate your bulging discs. Please consider spending some time with a highly trained teacher with experience in therapeutics so that you can develop a practice (asana) that will bring you closer to your Self, nurture your healing discs, and allow you to embrace the joy of moving your body that has so clearly attracted you to yoga.

Also keep in mind Yoga is vast and not merely asana. If you want hard work try living the ten yamas and niyamas from Patanjali's sutras. Historically speaking, students did not learn asana until they had mastered these precepts. Take one at a time and live it for a week without fail. Then move to the next.
victw2010-07-04 13:14:43 +0000 #4

Originally Posted by JenW


I recently decided I wanted to learn more and to do the 200-hour TCC, I stepped up my yoga practice in order to feel ready, however the knee pain got worse and was bothering me more.

IA has given his usual excellent response.

I am curious though - when you say you have stepped up your yoga practice - I am assuming you mean asana. I'm wondering how this will make you feel more ready for your teacher training program?
JenW2010-07-04 12:48:40 +0000 #5
Thanks InnerAthlete, it was an excellent reply. I have since overcome some of the negativity I was feeling with the diagnosis. Of course, I know that there is so much more to yoga beyong the physical asanas. But not being able to participate in my regular class made me feel very down.

Actually, I am starting to believe this could be a positive thing in the long run by enabling me to see beyond the realms of what has been my routine physical yoga practice.

I will take IA's advice on the yamas and niyams. Thank you.
Maryjane2010-07-04 14:32:49 +0000 #6
Dear JenW, I also had a very similiar diagnosis although I didn't have too much knee pain. I had 3 bulging disks and couldnt bend forward. It got worse and worse. My yoga practice had to change and then finally it was so reduced that I could no longer share my practice with others and up to only a few weeks ago I was doing the JFS in bed. I understand how depressing it becomes! The doctors decided I should perhaps consider an operation and I knew that that wasn't the answer quite yet. To cut a long story short I worked on the lower cross syndrome theory i.e my abs are weak (i couldn't believe it after all the yoga i had done!) but more importantly my psoas muscle on the side my disks were bulging slightly laterally was tight, short, weak. Glutes weak and erector spinae tight.Modifications of runner stretch, Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 done one after the other for 3 to 6 breaths, 3 times a day, Upward legs with modification and Child's pose done sitting on a chair really helped. I am not out of the woods yet, the pain has shifted to the glutes but I know I am on the right road. The negativity is really tough to deal with and I don't thing I have really been able to manage it but we learn a lot about ourselves when a physical imbalance pulls us off kilter. I wish you well in your healing process.



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