No movement L5/Sacrum

There are often many questions about Yin Yoga and specific spinal conditions. Feel free to ask your question here, or check out other posts or contribute input from your own experience.
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solasan
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:56 am
Location: UK

No movement L5/Sacrum

Post by solasan »

Hi I have long-standing spondylolysthesis L5/S1, more recently a compression fracture at L2. Have been going to a 'hydrotherapy' pool where the physio has discovered that there is no movement from L5 - sacrum, thinks this may be why the fracture at L2 has occurred. I am extremely supple thanks to many years of yoga, so was horrified to learn of this lack of movement. She has been manipulating in the water, and I am now to keep up exercises to help mobilise the area. Am wondering if you can recommend anything else, apart from cat posture. It seems that I could have been doing bridge pose incorrectly for years, not moving this part, with no teacher ever having spotted the lack of movement before.
blessings, S
Bernie
Posts: 1152
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Can Yin Yoga help with spondylolysthesis?

Post by Bernie »

Hi - I have taken a few days to really think about your question: can Yin Yoga help with spondylolysthesis? I have to admit, I am not sure. I have not heard of any non-surgical ways to realign the spine when a disk has slipped over top of the lower disk or sacrum (usually due to a crack in the bone structure between the two disks). Normally, interventions for spondylolysthesis relate to pain management and regaining normal mobility, rather than fixing the "problem." It sounds like you want to go further than that and actually fix the disks.

In my experience, severe spondylolysthesis does seem to occur in very flexible people. I know of one woman who has it and she was a high level gymnast and dancer with a good deal of flexibility. It is her experience that I would like to relate to you. She has been doing yoga for decades but neither yin yoga, nor any yang forms of yoga seemed to help her condition. Over the last year she has made significant progress is realigning her spine, not through physical yoga but through guided meditation!

Normally I would be skeptical that meditation could help with spondylolysthesis, but I can palpate her lumbar spine and the change over the last year is quite amazing. I can't guarantee that you will have the same improvement, but it may be worth trying.

Her meditation basically is as follows:
  • Feel your lower back and feel energy flowing up and down the spine
    Imagine your vertebrae coming into alignment and feel the energy flowing freely
    Picture your spine straightening - try to feel what this would feel like
    Make these feelings and pictures as vivid and real as you can
    Keep doing this, everyday for 10 minutes or more each day.
Yin Yoga works the deep connective tissues to make them thicker, stronger and healthier, but to help realign your slipped vertebrae may require a deeper stress to this area than normal poses can deliver, and the stress may make the spondylolysthesis deepen rather than lessen. Before doing more yoga poses, make sure your physio or health care professional is onside with it.

The idea would be to slide the L5 vertebrae back "out" while pushing the sacrum "in". Butterfly could move the L5 backwards but it also pushes the sacrum backwards. Seal pose could push the sacrum in, but it also pushes the L5 in. It is difficult to isolate the sacrum from the L5 and move these two bones in opposite directions, which is why I am not sure that Yin Yoga or any generic yoga can help you.

However, try the meditation that my friend has been doing and see if this can work the same miracle for you that she has been experiencing. Let us know how it goes.

Cheers
Bernie
solasan
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:56 am
Location: UK

Post by solasan »

Hi Bernie
thank you so much for your thought-out and caring reply, I really appreciate your taking the time. I will certainly try the meditation - I've lapsed a bit with my meditation practise recently, so this will be a new way to focus. I'm not looking to 'fix' the problem, as I appreciate that the slip has been this way for more than half my life probably. It was just to see if I can get more movement in that area of my spine. From what you say it sounds safest I continue with the exercises at the hydro-pool that the physio has shown me, as they seem to be helping. It's really about finding postures I can do safely that will help to minimise pain, as it's becoming more and more of a limitation, especially sitting up straight, standing still for any length of time. Very limiting socially! Again, thank you so much, and I'll let you know how the meditation practise goes. Solasan
orange blossom
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 3:15 am
Location: north carolina

meditation on spine

Post by orange blossom »

Recently I saw a picture of an eel and it struck me as a great image and metaphor for spines… I can’t find the exact image that first inspired this thought.. the eel was underwater, and looked a little more ribbon-like than the image i am including.. and you could see its girth more… but the qualities that inspired me to make the comparison are here too – its s-shaped curves, its fluidity, its obviously strong and powerful, solid, substantial, yet supple.

I think the suggestion of meditating on the spine coming into alignment is a great one.. and visualizing a healthy, strong and supple spine, where movement at one end trickles along the spinal pathway and is received and released at the other end... as a continuous stream. The movement and forces sequencing through the vertebral column with ease and confidence. As someone who needs to focus more on strength and stability in my core than flexibility, this image works for me... as a spine, i imagine this eel would hold me up nicely..


Image

ps. Solasan - I have found acupuncture very helpful for back pain..and a surprising amount of 'boney shifting' has happened on the table too.. amazing to me.. it sounded like i was in the chiropractors office.

ciao
solasan
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:56 am
Location: UK

Post by solasan »

Lovely fluid but strong image, thanks! S
solasan
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:56 am
Location: UK

soulful's post

Post by solasan »

Hi soulful
thank you for your soulful reply. The medical est. has been negligible help these past 30+ years, so was just as well I discovered yoga. I'm soon to undergo a 'vertobroplasty' procedure on a wedge fracture higher up the spine, L2 - most likely caused by the L5/S1 slip throwing everything out of alignment. It feels a bit like fixing one part of a broken fence, while leaving the rest unmended. However, I'm persevering with cat-like exercises in warm water, and attempting to strengthen the spine as much as poss with short 'seal' pose and gentle stretching. Who knows what I'd have been like had it not been for yoga all these years. The medics are always stunned at my flexibility. It's strength my spine lacks more. Sitting at the computer is the worst, so must stop. blessings,
s
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