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Back ache from Yoga - what am I doing wrong?

(11 Posts)
qumquat Fri 05-Feb-16 20:12:47

I am really keen to start practicing yoga. It really helps my anxiety and releasing tension in my shoulders, but every time I try it I get bad lower back ache. I've tried the start of 30 days of Yoga with Adriene, and by 5 minutes into day 1 my lower back is killing. I've tried sitting on a book or chair rather than on the floor but still almost immediate my lower back starts hurting and will hurt for the next few days. I have had lower back problems in the past and I avoid all cobra/upward dog type positions as they are agony, but even sitting upright seems to destroy me. Day to day my back rarely hurts at all any more, and I run and go to high intensity fitness classes no problem, but as soon as I start consciously having a 'good posture' for yoga it starts to hurt. Does anyone have any advice? Thank you!

Chottie Fri 05-Feb-16 20:17:22

Hello, I would advise you to take some classes with a qualified yoga instructor who will really check on your posture and ensure you are doing asanas correctly.

CoteDAzur Sat 06-Feb-16 10:18:22

Is it possible that you might have slipped disc or some other problem in the spine? It doesn't sound like a pulled muscle to me.

Otherwise, you might need to take care during plank, lowering yourself down from plank, and going from that to downward dog. If your core muscles are not yet strong enough to do it all as a straight spine (and most of us are not), you should put your knees down first.

If this pain continues, I would recommend getting checked out by a specialist doctor (not just GP) with diagnostic scans. Once you know what the problem is, I am sure that you can find a way to help/heal it with yoga.

Orangesarenot Sat 06-Feb-16 15:04:56

I agree with the above. Also have you tried pilates alongside yoga? I think yoga and pilates complement each other really well, and pilates should help with core strengthening, so reducing lower back pain. If you can find it, try reformer pilates or physio-led pilates - classes tend to be smaller, with well-trained instructors who can spend more time with each student. Reformer is good because often your back is a bit more supported, whereas in matt pilates it is quite easy to overuse your back rather than your core.

Another thought, have you ever seen an osteopath? I'm mid 30s and in the past year my back has started giving me gyp, despite pilates and yoga and Alexander Technique. Two sessions with a recommended osteopath and I was a new woman.

Final thought - be careful you always think about lengthening your spine. It is really easy to arch your back, which initially feels fab (counter pose to being hunched over a computer all day!) but actually compresses the spine. HTH!

Orangesarenot Sat 06-Feb-16 15:05:54

Sorry for extra t in mat - no idea where that came from!

Terrifiedandregretful Wed 10-Feb-16 20:12:57

Thank you (op here), lots of food for thought! I think I might well be arching my back too much in an attempt to avoid hunching. I can't get to classes at the moment but will see if some of these tips help.

RubberDuck Thu 11-Feb-16 09:09:14

I agree with everyone else that you should probably get some advice (medical and instructor), however I also wanted to add that for me this got better over time as my core strengthened.

However, I still need to be really careful and mindful, especially in cobra and up dog. Three days ago, I muscled into too high a cobra without really thinking and clearly did some damage. What I find really soothes that area when I do overdo it is lying on my back, hugging my knees into my chest and rocking side to side to massage the area - helps gently release some of the muscles.

Also what I sometimes find can be a factor is my own inner narrative about pain and again, more yoga practice and my meditation practice has really helped with this.

Last night, I was cooking and my narrative was really waxing lyrical about how painful my back was and how stupid I was for not being mindful with the cobra. I caught it, stopped and put a lot of attention in my lower back and asked "is it painful?" and I realised after some exploration that it wasn't really pain, it was a bit achy in that niggly sort of way - discomfort but not pain. I was able to drop the narrative, relax and carry on. By late evening, I had no pain in my back at all, so I think narrative and tension was the main culprit.

However (and this is the big caveat), I could equally have paid attention and discovered yes it was sharp pain and I'd done some serious damage needing medical. Or that it was dull, muscular pain and I needed to take some restorative rest. It's the paying attention that's the important bit smile

That last part sounds a bit woo, but I do find that over time yoga helps you to listen to your body more effectively so you can make better judgement calls about injury and soreness.

Ardha Fri 19-Feb-16 13:20:04

Don't know what Yoga with Adriene is but I am a British Wheel of yoga teacher.

Lower back pain is usually because the back is doing the work that other muscles should be doing in the pose. I have a long history of back issues which is why I do yoga. Take a look at some of the poses in Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs. Work on strengthening your lower back and becoming more aware of it before trying things like Cobra and Updog.
If you cannot attend classes try and get someone to take photos of you in Cat or down dog to see what your back does when you are not trying to bend it.
If you have a large natural curve in the lower back as I do it helps to try and maintain some tone in your abdomen. And yoga blocks do help with sitting on the floor.


CoteDAzur Thu 17-Mar-16 10:13:43

How is your back pain now, qumquat?

TalkinPeace Fri 18-Mar-16 20:55:33

another vote to say - see a real world teachere

Terrifiedandregretful Sun 21-Aug-16 19:57:30

Hi I'm so sorry I lost track of this. I'm a newly single mum so getting out to classes is difficult. Unfortunately I've abandoned yoga for now but I am seeing a chiropractor so hope that will make things easier and I can try again. He has said I stand with my back to arched so working on correcting that. Thanks everyone!

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