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Advice on working around 2 physical challenges

sarahy2010-07-05 13:16:54 +0000 #1
Hi All,

I have many questions, but i'm going to try to separate them so that the thread doesn't become overburdened...

Because i work at a desk all day i have neck and shoulder issues. I have modified my work environment as far as possible to reduce strain, however:

1. my C2 vertebra is out of alignment, this occured about 3-4 years ago when i put my head down on my desk at work, turned to the right, and then yawned (this was not planned and please don't try to re-enact this sequence- it was and is painful and i had nausea when i turned my head for 2 days before i got a chiropractor to put it back in place). since this time, though i have been to chiropractors and physio therapists, nothing has been permanent in keeping this vertebra in it's place. in addition, it causes the C3/C4 to also compensate by going in the opposite direction.

Question: is headstand contraindicated in this situation? i love the headstand and it does contribute to building shoulder and neck strength- which should be beneficial. i don't have pain (perhaps occasional twinges) in the posture and find great benefit in it, but i'm afraid i could be injuring myself in ways i don't know. since i don't have a regular teacher it is difficult to find answers here.

2. I seem to have discovered a shoulder injury during my practice, which i think originated with my 80lb dog running after something while still attached to my left arm. It has been manipulated by chiropractors and physios however it seems to reoccur. This becomes most apparent most when in headstand and backbend when the shoulder is bearing weight. Unfortunately, without my anatomy book i can't pinpoint the exact location. This also happens in the shoulder stand (feather/scorpion), which i don't do often, but try to work on little by little. This is not a constant, intense pain that would make me stop, it is a twinge that makes me wonder if i'm hurting myself and/or doing the position incorrectly.

Question: Should these poses be avoided until the muscle is strong enough to support the weight in these positions? If so, what asanas can i incorporate into my practice to strengthen this area?

Let me know what you think or if i can provide further information.

thanks, sarah


InnerAthlete2010-07-05 13:27:08 +0000 #2
Hello Sarah,

strength follows alignment, it does not proceed it. Therefore it would not be a likely protocol to strengthen the muscles if you are having alignment issues (the neck). Your shoulder issue sounds like a rotator cuff injury. Those old ones when there is damage, can build some scar tissue and it's challenging to practice.

I have some of the same challenges in asanas like Urdhva Dhanurasana: , Adho Mukha Vrksasana: , but rarely in Sirsasana: or Sarvangasana: . Which leads me to my next questions. Why did you mention shoulderstand then bracket feather and scorpion? Shoulderstand is not related to these poses either in English or Sanskrit. Are you thinking of, or referring to something else?

The shoulder joint is pretty much no joint at all, which is the beauty of it as its nothingness allows for the range of motion for the arms. However, many yoga students are taught improper actions in foundational poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog). Such instruction neglects to teach the student how to secure the humerus (upper arm bone) with its joint and move from the shoulder blade. Then, when the student moves to Sirsasana they do not have the actions to protect themselves from futher damage. Same for most poses where the arms are weight-bearing. So the answer to your shoulder thing is "appropriate action".

As for your neck it sounds as though you are describing a subluxated vertebrae. Sure, it's good to get it aligned by the chiro but no, it should not prevent you from poses like sirsasana IF you are properly aligned. If you are not, then you are feeding your issue rather than rectifying. With a neck issue like yours, or more severe, Sirsasana between two chairs with no weight on the head would be advised. But again, alll this is to be done with a teacher. The neck isn't really to be played around with.

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