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Working on my back

Posted Mar 09 2008 12:00am
My yoga practice these last couple of weeks have involved a lot of work on my scoliosis. My last trip to the chiropractor left me with a raise in my shoe and a whole new exercise regime to work on strength in my neck and upper back as well as releasing tension in those same areas.

I was a bit despondent when I first came out. He just wanted me to stick to the exercise regime and try not to do any yoga asana for a while -- I guess the idea is that you try one thing at a time otherwise how do you know it's working? Still it's kind of hard to be told, as a yoga teacher, that your own practice should be put on hold for a while.

On the whole I'm incredibly lucky with my chiro as he is *very* yoga friendly and I refer some of my clients to him and vice versa (mainly because he knows I teach rehabilitative yoga). But it didn't stop it feeling somewhat sucky to hear this. However, I do trust him, so I decided to stick with it.

I'm about 10 days in now and I'm actually really noticing the difference. Amazingly so. The pain, whilst still there, has subsided about 40% which is the first time it's done that in over a year. The other thing this new set of exercises has made me realise is that pretty much anything can be yoga.

I've practiced the exercises in lieu of my daily yoga practice. I've started off with a few cat/cow stretches and a few gentle down dogs and taken it from there. I've worked each exercise into a pattern with my breath and finished with 10 minutes of savasana, a pranayama practice and a meditation.

All in I'm really happy with this practice for as long as I need it. The important thing about yoga is that it's about working with your body in whatever your body needs at that point. And this isn't always classical asana. In fact, the more I teach the more I notice that classical asana aren't the best thing for some people's bodies. The most important thing about yoga is right there in the name. "Yoke" or union. The union of breath and movement. The breath bringing the union between body and mind. Classical yoga asana are a way of achieving a comfortable seated position for mediation, so if that is the conclusion of the practice does it matter on the exact body movements we use to get there?

My chiropractic exercises have opened up a whole new enquiry into my practice and what I want from it, and whether I am getting that. And that's just great. Because yoga, to me, is a journey, one that may never have a specific destination but that changes daily with my own breath and my own body.
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