You may have heard that yoga is good for your back. After all, it releases tight muscles, improves flexibility and is excellent for stress relief. Every time you try a class, however, your back seems to hurt even more. Before you decide that yoga is simply not for you, please read this blog. Yoga can be totally wonderful despite and perhaps even because of your back pain, but a general yoga class may not be the right choice. Here are 3 reasons why you better avoid a general yoga class if you have acute or chronic back pain, and what to choose instead.
1. The classes are generally too big
If you are participating in a yoga class with more than 10 other students, there are simply too many students for the teacher to make sure everyone is doing the poses correctly. However much experience the yoga teacher has and however carefully he/she phrases the instructions, there is only so much one can see. Especially if you are new to yoga and you are attending the class because of back pain, this is not a good situation. My own back-care classes have a maximum of 5 students and every session I ask my students what is going on for them, so that the classes are suitable for them on that particular day.
2. “Peer pressure”
If you are in a yoga session that is not taught at your level, the pace may be too fast and the poses too complicated. You are likely to experience some pressure to keep up with the class and not to be the odd one out. This means that there is no time for you to tune in to your body and really feel if you are doing the poses in a way that will serve you, let alone adapt them to your needs.
3. Some of the poses included are counter-indicated for your particular back pain.
If you have back pain, there are some poses that you have to avoid, and others that are particularly beneficial. Back pain is very complicated and can have multiple causes. Some back pain conditions will get worse with forward bends and rounding the back, while other back conditions will improve with these poses. Despite my specialization in yoga for back pain, I prefer to work with the advice of a doctor, and often do alongside a physiotherapist or osteopath.
How can you find the appropriate yoga class?
If you have a serious back condition, it is best to find a yoga therapist who is specialized in back pain. You may only need a limited number of sessions to learn how to adapt yoga in your general yoga class. Or you may love the guidance and individual attention you receive and continue the one-to-one tuition. This may also be best if your back condition necessitates a very gentle and specific yoga programme, or if you regularly suffer from relapses.
This autumn I have a few places available for new students, private sessions in my Home Studio or through Skype, so do contact me to discuss if yoga therapy could be right for you.
In any case, the benefits of yoga are incredible: among many other things, yoga can stimulate joint health, correct posture and balance, lower stress, improve breathing, and better the immune system. If you find the right type of yoga for you, you have found one of the best companions for your health and well-being!