My back is hurting at the moment. Not in the usual, sacro-iliac, place, but more like L3-L4ish. You know, that part of the lumbar spine that often goes awry. What makes me most grumpy about this, apart from the discomfort, of course, is that I didn’t DO anything to aggravate my back. Other than get very upset about a week and a half ago, tense all my muscles into tight little balls (not deliberately, of course) and thereby pull my left sacro-iliac joint (SIJ) out of alignment. All it takes is a very tight psoas and/or tensor fascia lata to do this, because, as I have mentioned before, my back is more than a little hypermobile. And then the out-ness travelled up my back. So my SIJ’s are now fine, but my lumbar spine? Not so much.
But. I need to do my yoga.
Only, there isn’t much you can do when your back hurts. Or is there?
Enter the joy of the samasthiti practice. Sama means ‘same’ and sthiti means ‘stay’. So, samasthiti practice involves keeping the body more or less symmetrical. No real backarching, no real forward bending, unless it’s from the hips and the spine stays in neutral.
Below is more or less what I’ve been doing.
Start in balasana (child pose) with hips a little off the heels so the back doesn’t round:
Inhale into cakravakasana:
Exhale, curl toes under and come into phalankasana (plank pose):
Stay there for several breaths.
I really *heart* this pose. It stretches my quads on days when lunging isn’t an option, it engages my core, and it eases my shoulders. I understand that this would make me a freak in some circles.
When I am ready, exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana, with knees maybe a bit bent to keep the back long. This is a great traction pose for the spine, I find, when done right. It gently moves the verterbrae away from each other and makes space for compression and pinching to ease.
This pic is three and a half years old, as is the next one, and bless, I look young, and kinda un-strong around the middle. So odd looking back!
Then I go back the way I came: plank (phalankasana), cakravakasana, balasana.
And repeat. And repeat. Till I feel like standing.
Then urdvha hastasana: Inhale, arms out and up, exhale arms down, belly tones to spine:
After that, I lie on my back and hug my knees, which is a lovely release for the hips and the muscles of the back, and I finish with my legs up the wall, or sometimes up a chair because that puts less pressure on my back.
Stretching my arms out like that does marvellous things for my chest and shoulders, too.
A short practice, but an effective one. Ah, I love yoga!
- SI Joint Pain and Yoga (yogawithnadine.com)
- Yoga for the Back (yogawithnadine.com)
- Beginner Yoga Poses: Tadasana (melbournemobileyoga.com.au)
- Yoga for Tired Legs (yogawithnadine.com)