Habits, good or bad, hate change. One example is eating sugar. If you eat sugar, you begin to crave sugar regardless of hunger, need for energy, etc. For whatever reason, our “go to” for low back pain is actually perpetuating the problem. Most likely, the lower back has become used to its compensated shape, position and patterns. Forward folding pulls on the lower back when what the spine actually needs is to move the opposite direction. Your disks push towards the nerves in forward folds (flexion), not in extension (backbending.) The vertebrae have puzzle-piece like bones that fit together when extended- it’s completely safe. The same can’t be said of forward folding. Saying “it’s safe” doesn’t mean it will be completely comfortable. Know that breaking ground to build a new foundation may be uncomfortable. All change usually involves discomfort even to the point of pain.
What is pain? Pain is your body is trying to talk to you. Listen- but don’t let it dominate the conversation. For your body (and mind!) to accept these changes the body must receptive. We can meter this/ see this/ determine this by observing the breath. We communicate with the body with the breath. If the breath is calm, the body is calm, the mind can be calm.
So, how do we familiarize ourselves with the threshold of change? You should be able to hold the position for 10 breaths (not 10 seconds!) which equals about a minute. The level of intensity should be about 6-7 on a scale of 10. This is enough to enact change below the threshold of tension where other parts of the body try to take over/ compensate, or you body freezes and locks in the tension. This also allows you to be “in the body.” Healing is about presence and with pain we tend to disassociate, sometimes to the point where the triggers are more in the mind than the body. This is relevant. It’s not simply, mind over matter or no pain, no gain. If it’s the mind that needs to heal as much as the body, give it space and awareness to do so.
Pain can take aware more than physical ability. It takes away our confidence in our capabilities and begins to bleed into every facet of life. Here a four poses to get you started.