What Yoga Can Someone with Herniated Disks Do?

Question

I have a 40 year old woman, who herniated a disc in her lower lumbar about 16 months. She was told healing time would be 18 to 24 months.

Sitting and forward bends "hurt"… although I always advise students they should NOT be feeling pain.

What do you offer this type of student when there are forward bends planned in a class? Is there a way to "painlessly" forward bend for them?

Sitting also bothers her, but I suggested Vajrasana.

Answer

Nicole DeAvilla
Marin County, California

First of all she should avoid sitting and forward bends. It hurts because it is aggravating her condition. When the rest of the class is working on forward bends she can work on her therapeutic asanas.

She can do single and double knees to the chest and pelvic tilts (under curve only). She can do these whenever the rest of the class is doing something that is not healthy for her. It is OK if she does them several times through out the class.  

Also you can ask her if she was given any therapeutic exercises from her doctor or physical therapist. If she remembers them she could do them in class also when not able to participate with the other students.

This will help her to heal faster. You will find these postures and some more postures and tips discussed in Therapeutic Yoga: The Lower Back.

It is best to go slowly at first. You did the right thing in suggesting that she sit in Vajrasana. If that ever does not work she could sit in a chair, lean against the wall or skip sitting, and be in a therapeutic position.

She will need to be strong and without symptoms for some time before attempting simple forward bends.

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