- Hi Bernie, I have been practicing yin yoga on a regular basis for 5 years. This past summer I was diagnosed with a herniation in the L4-5 disc, and after physical therapy, the pain symptoms have subsided. I'm back in yoga class, both Yin and vinyasa flow. My physical therapist has advised against rounding the back in forward bends, so I have been trying to do poses calling for rounding by folding from the hips with a straight back. What are your thoughts about rounding vs. straight back? Do you feel that in time rounding will become possible? I understand that you cannot offer medical advice, but would very much appreciate the benefit of your wisdom and experience in dealing with this type of injury. I'm a 70 year old woman, in reasonably good health, other than the back problem. Namaste, Deborah
This is a great question and one that many people ask. What do you do when you are diagnosed with a bulging or herniated disc and your therapist or doctor says “No flexion of the spine for you!” Certainly, I would never suggest you ignore the advise of your health care provider: she knows you, I don’t. She has seen you, I haven’t. But, despite their advice, you are the one flying your plane (see this article for what I mean by that). You have to decide what is appropriate for you. Everyone else is just ground control, givers of sage advice, but you are flying the plane: you must decide what’s appropriate. It is possible that out of the fear to doing harm, your therapist prevents you from doing anything, which will probably cause your spine to atrophy. Too much stress can be bad, yes — but too little stress is also unhealthy.
I have written about this several times. Please check out these threads and articles:
- Yin Yoga for low back pain
Are yoga teachers making us fragile?
Injuries and Yin Yoga
The Two Biggest Challenges in Yoga Today