Easing Back Pain

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Read Aadil Palkhivala's reply:

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Dear Julie,

Based on the scarce information on his condition (I do not know in which direction the disc has herniated, nor between which vertebrae, nor whether there is slipping or spurring of the vertebrae), my immediate response is to stop all seated forward bending immediately. Because of his tight hamstrings, he will take the load of forward bending in his lumbar region or his sacroiliac joint, which will exacerbate his condition over time.

Instead, have him try the world’s best pose for hamstring release without lower back injury: Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose). While lying on a sticky mat, place the sole of the lower foot against a wall. Advise your student to use a strap around the arch of the upper foot, holding it with both hands. There should always be pressure on the entire sole of the lower foot, so he may have to wiggle a little closer to the wall by bending the knee of the lower leg and then restraightening it to increase pressure on the foot. Hold this pose for three breaths, then change sides. Repeat this set nine times.

Continue to avoid inversions—although if you have a wall rope system, all traction of the spine is excellent. Hanging Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) and suspended Ardha Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Half Handstand) will create suction in the spaces between the vertebrae and will help retract the disc into its healthy location. Standing poses, if done with the back against a wall, also may help. Follow your intuition and monitor his pain. Pain in the lower back is seldom positive and must be avoided. One of the best asana series for the release of lower back pain is the Purna Yoga Beginner’s Hip-Opening Series, which includes all possible six movements in the hip joints. This series is down lying down and the six poses are: Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose), Pavritta Supta Padangusthasana, Parsva Supta Padangusthasana, Internal Rotation, External Rotation, Eka Pada Supta Virasana. It should be done three times daily until the pain is lessened, and then two times a day for life.

Hydration and alkalinity are crucial for releasing the muscle spasms that surround the lower back injury. Advise your student to drink lots of water with a little Sunnydew (an extract of stevia and chrysanthemum flower) and Fortune Delight (an herbal tea with electrolytes) found at health food stores or online -- 10 or more eight-ounce glasses per day. A tiny pinch of Himalayan rock salt in the water will prevent his sodium count from diminishing due to overhydration. Alkalinity, a state in which the body is inhospitable to disease, comes from peaceful thoughts as well as a diet consisting of organic fruit, seeds, vegetables, grains, nuts, and flax and olive oils.

Recognized as one of the world's top yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga at the age of seven with B.K.S. Iyengar and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo's yoga three years later. He received the Advanced Yoga Teacher's Certificate at the age of 22 and is the founder-director of internationally-renowned Yoga Centers™ in Bellevue, Washington. Aadil is the director of the College of Purna Yoga, a 1,700 hour Washington-state licensed and certified teacher training program. He is also a federally certified naturopath, a certified <a href="/health/ayurveda">Ayurvedic health science practitioner, a clinical hypnotherapist, a certified shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, a lawyer, and an internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection.