Friday, May 23, 2008

I'm stuck...

I feel like this is a letter I should be writing to a yoga magazine but I might get more immediate (and better) results posting here. In the past I have been vocal about lower back pain and my heart issues. The lower back issues didn't start until a couple of years ago but it is not chronic so I don't talk about it THAT much but as you might know when your back hurts it pretty much disrupts your whole being of existence.

I've written about my wrist problems doing a Wheel. Backbends in general have been freaking me out more and more. Back bending involves chest opening correct? Chest openings can draw a lot of energy. I don't want to crunch my lower back in a back bend but if I focus more on my chest and open up, my heart starts to beat FAST and sometimes even get light-headed. When you have Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm, I guess I can't take this lightly. So I don't want to hurt my back but I don't want to cause my heart stress either.

So what do I do? Where should I focus my attention? I worry that I am becoming more and more limited in my physical practice.

9 comments:

blisschick said...

Perhaps this is more about respecting your body's messages than "limiting your physical practice." That wording, in and of itself, I think, is full of red flags about self-judgment. Questions you might want to ponder: why are you so attached to back bends? Do you believe that to be a "good" yogi you have to do backbends? For a long time, I thought that Iyengar yoga was IT. But I kept hurting myself. Being very flexible and very competitive can be a bad thing sometimes! :) Then I found Kundalini yoga which works on your spine and not your hips. And since your spine is where everything starts, this approach makes more sense to me. BUT I had to get over the idea that it wasn't "yoga enough." Have you ever tried a Ravi Singh/Ana Brett DVD? They have been revelation for me. And as someone who suffers from lower back pain, there was nothing like this kind of yoga. The additional chanting and breathing has also helped with the ego stuff! :)

kai said...

Have you considered exploring backbends in a gentler way through restorative yoga? If you have blocks, a balance ball or even a blanket, you can do gentle backbend/chest openers. This can help you adjust to the sensation of opening the chest while keeping your nervous system calm. Laying over blocks is one of my favourite yoga poses. Get in touch if you need further guidance and I'll send along some resources.

Marilyn P. Sushi said...

Thanks Kai! I actually do my wheel's now with blocks against the wall. It helps relieve the discomfort in my wrists. Sometimes I'll just do bridge with my lower back resting on a block and that's fine too.

Blisschick I responded to your comment via email. :)

joy suzanne said...

In order to get opening in my thoracic, I've been piling wool blankets over a rugby ball (!) and laying back over them. You can keep increasing the height/angle of your props to reach deeper backbends and get space into the chest, all before (or without) ever lifting up with the arms and legs, and getting the heart beating too fast. It's all about finding the opening by relaxing into the stretch. It's helped me so much. I think it would give you the benefits without stressing your system. Good luck!

Linda Sama said...

how about getting one of those back boards I've seen advertised in yoga mags? I tried one the other day and thought it was awesome.

I've been dealing with a back issue since last October and finally went to an awesome chiropractor (who is NOT your typical bone cracker!) who believes in working the soft tissue first and foremost.

totally agree with the comments about too much self-judgment. if you can't do a back bend, don't do back bends.

I have to say that after reading your post, my gut reaction was "work with the breath" first and foremost. the breath will change your body, believe me. I find that too many american yoga students do not work enough with the breath. I have been working for a long time with a private student who has a ton of issues with BREATHING. long story short -- if she does not breath, she's in pain.....

AAAARGH...I could go on about it, but I won't!

rebekka said...

Ok, noooooo wayyyyy.... I can't believe there is a blog dedicated cupcakes AND yoga. I can't wait to explore!

Nadine Fawell said...

Hi Marilyn!

I agree with blisschick!

Also, I find that thing go in cycles - for a while your physical practice will be strong, then, no so much. Pain (speaking as one who has had a great deal lately) is often a wonderful gate into something Else. All of life is yoga...

Nourishing-Yoga said...

I can't believe a website dedicated to yoga & cupcakes!

I began doing yoga more than ten years ago seeking relief from severe low back pain and sciatica from herniated disks and totally agree with blisschick. Yoga is so much more than the physical poses.

Have you considered viniyoga? It's extremely therapeutic. There's a great DVD--Viniyoga therapy for the low back, sacrum and hips by Gary Kraftsow, you may want to consider.

I think the key is to stop pushing and focus on healing your back instead of executing certain poses.

I hope this helps. I know how awful it is to live in pain.

haupia mama said...

There are so many backbend poses that are not the wheel! We just had a whole backbend class and did not the the wheel once.

Cat/cow; salabhasana, bow, baby cobra, cobra, , urdvha mukha swanasana, fish, bridge.

For wheel specifically, try grounding the arches of the feet, this allows space to open up in the lower back. I also heard of a yogi who practiced a deep reverse asana before doing an asana, so for wheel, forward bend first? I have not tried this method.

good luck.