Yoga therapy for a slipped disc

beneyoga back care slipped disc

If you’ve ever had a slipped disc, you know how it is to feel excruciating pain in your lower back, sometimes accompanied by shooting pain down your leg. There can also be reduced sensation, tingling and weakness in one leg. The crippling pain may have put you out of action for at least a few weeks. In the best possible scenario, a slipped disc is diagnosed early. You would be told which movements exacerbate the condition and which can heal your spine. If, on the other hand, you keep doing the wrong things, such as slouching and lifting, you may suffer long-term pain and eventually further deterioration of the spine. Physiotherapists, osteopaths or chiropractors offer different treatments, with varying results. This blog discusses the intervention by yoga therapy. Yoga therapy for a slipped disc or herniated disc can teach you relaxation, the movements to avoid and the practices suitable for each stage of the recovery.

What is a slipped disc and how is it related to sciatica?

A slipped or herniated disc, and the often-resulting sciatica, is most common in adults between 25 and 55 years old. The causes include genetic disposition, a sedentary lifestyle, bad posture, stress, or vigorous physical activities. The latter are especially tricky when infrequent and combined with a sedentary lifestyle. Anatomically, a herniated disc is an intervertebral disc in which the outer ring of cartilage has ruptured and the inner contents of thick gel are bulging out. Such a herniation happens most frequently in the lower back or neck.  The bulge can press on the root of a nearby nerve, causing pain that can feel like a sharp electric shock along the nerve route. It is felt in the back of the leg when the disc herniates between the vertebrae towards the bottom of the spine. The nerve pain is called sciatica when the sciatic nerve is affected.

beneyoga herniated disc

A slipped (or herniated) disc needs 6 to 12 months to heal completely. During this time it’s essential to avoid any activity that puts strain on the disc. This includes lifting, slouching, long sitting and forward bending. Subscribing to this blog will give you a guide with free advice about how to do that in daily life. Avoiding certain positions and movements is hardest to remember once the pain has left. Nevertheless, it is very important to remain vigilant for about a year to prevent a relapse.

Yoga therapy vs. yoga

Few people know how effective tailored yoga therapy can be for a slipped or herniated disc. Whereas going to a regular yoga class would make the condition worse, a carefully selected set of yoga poses can aid the recovery. This isn’t to say that a general yoga class always exacerbates back pain, but in the case of a slipped disc, it most certainly would. This is because too many yoga poses are counter-indicated. The right yoga poses, on the other hand, will speed up the healing process.

My mentor Dr. Robin Monro researched and documented the effectiveness of yoga therapy for lower back pain and herniated discs for decades. I would never have had the confidence to work with my back pain students without his teaching and experience. He taught yoga therapists that a different yoga therapy approach is needed depending on your back condition and stage of recovery. He also insisted that it’s very important to detect a slipped disc early. In my experience, a slipped disc can present together with other spinal conditions. The yoga therapy approach has to be adapted accordingly.

Symptoms of a slipped disc

A herniated disc can be seen on an MRI scan, but most doctors do not prescribe one when you come into the surgery with newly developed back pain. They only carry out a full assessment with an MRI if the condition persists in a severe form. At this point, the pain may have become very limiting and a conservative treatment less likely. As Robin Monro says: “Early detection and appropriate management of herniated disc can probably improve the prospects of recovery and avoidance of long-term chronic pain”.

You can have a herniated disc if you combine several of the following:

-You are between 25 and 55 years old.

-The back pain started suddenly.

-You feel shooting pain going down your leg, or a “zinging” sensation down the leg.

-You feel reduced sensation, tingling and weakness in the leg.

-The pain increases when you twist or bend forward or sit for a long time.

If you are in this situation, and would like to learn how yoga therapy can help you, book a free consultation call here:

Movements and positions to avoid if you have a slipped disc



-Forward bends of any kind

-Rotations of the spine

-Lateral stretches of the spine

From the list above it is obvious that you have to be extremely careful. This is important until the pain has subsided for about half a year. On top of avoiding these movements, you can add positions that would promote the healing of your spine. My back care package of five yoga therapy sessions can do that for you. It also includes help with posture, core strength, breath optimisation and relaxation. After all, yoga therapy aims to heal the whole person, not just the spine. With back pain, this often involves tackling stress as well.

If you would like to discuss yoga therapy for your back pain, do contact me here for a free consultation: Also have a look at this blog about soothing positions when you have a slipped disc:


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