Working with both athletes and lay individuals who experience pain, I get asked about my thoughts almost on a daily basis.
It's Fantastic...95% of the time.
The other 5%? Well, like any other activity, yoga is only helpful when practiced wisely.
Let me explain further with the help of our good old friend Lumbago, also known as Low Back Pain.
You see, in the current society that we live in, far too often (but not always) low back pain is a result of nociceptive input derived from irritated tissues in the lumbar region caused by prolonged or repetitive flexion. Since the prominent biomechanist, Stuart McGill, states that we may have a finite number of flexion cycles available in our lumbar spine, I am of the opinion that many of us should not put ourselves at risk of increased stress concentration to this region unnecessarily.
Most of us know by now that traditional sit ups are bad.
But too many swan dives, downward-facing dogs, full boats and happy babies, to name a few, may not be a good thing either...especially with a novice instructor. For the most part, the above poses are relatively harmless however, when practiced by an individual new to yoga, they may be more detrimental to your body than you think!
This is no different than traditional deadlifting or squatting which, when performed incorrectly or inappropriately, can do some serious damage.
One's form should be of utmost importance. This is where your instructor comes in. Take a look at the poses shown on yogajournal.com.
Now compare some of those poses to how you performed them at your last yoga class.
Volume is no different. If your most recent yoga class consisted of 25 downward-facing dogs and 30 swan dives, may I respectfully suggest that you seek a new instructor!
Do you see what I'm getting at?
In fact, Dr. Craig Liebenson, recently directed me to some of the work that Dr. Vijay Vad has been conducting out of New York. Dr. Vad has been looking at the beneficial effect of yoga practice on low back pain for the last decade. But there's a catch! The "Back Builders" yoga practice that he advocates for completely eliminates poses that may potentially harm the intervertebral discs (sitting poses and forward bends) and other structures of the lumbar region. (*note: many asymptomatic individuals demonstrate disc derangement upon radiographic imaging and by no means am I correlating tissue disruption with pain).
So here are some suggestions I have when it comes to yoga:
To safe yoga...