The Sacred Sacrum

Last week in my blog a wrote about being sidetracked with a low back injury and how I had to relax with restorative poses.  This week, I was reading my homework assignment, chapter 5 and there was a great article by Judith Lasater called Out of Joint.  This article was about the Sacroiliac Joint and how it can cause lower back pain.

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana

I attended an advanced yoga class last week that included some unilateral stretching that effected the Sacroiliac joint (think full Vasistasana with the top arm extended and holding the toes of the top leg).  We also did Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana.  The instructor mentioned that if you have a sacrum issue, you may feel that issue more in those poses and the answer was to let go or simply skip those poses.  Well guess what – that’s when I started to feel the pinch,  Judith says in the article “There are a few telltale signs.  The most common is pain the size of a quarter over the S-I (Sacroiliac) joint”.  She goes on to say “It is commonly felt only on one side”.  What?  This never occurred to me.  But now I zeroed in on just that.  A quarter size pinch on the left side of my S-I joint area could be causing this tightness on my right lower back.  (By the way, you should really read the article!  My blog isn’t long enough to capture the great information).

Later in the article Judith goes on with ideas on how to relieve pain in the S-I joint with twists and asymmetrical forward bends.  This didn’t help me with the pain because of my lower and mid back tightness.  I didn’t even try that suggestion just remembering the last week.  But a little later in her article, she talks about strengthening the S-I joint  with simple back bending and standing poses!

My assignment from my teacher, Sandy Carmellini, was to pick an energetic idea to work with (something juicy, not boring like simple back bends {my words, not hers}) and teach it to your class.  So I decided to pick backbends and make it non-boring because I would talk about how back bends effect the Sacroiliac joint.

And that’s what I practiced this last week and that’s what I taught to my students.  I recreated an old sequence to accommodate this new idea.  When it was time to teach, there were more students than I usually have and there were two new students that I hadn’t met before but I didn’t let my head get in the way.

I explained to the students how backbends can strengthen the S-I joint and help to protect that area, but I also gave the option to skip any pose as well as release from the pose when they’re done and rest.  I like the fact that the students all seemed wise enough to give themselves a break when the poses seem a little too intense.  I have to say, the sequence built up to the back bending nicely but included a few intense back bends, but I kept reminding the students to take care of themselves first.  I was a little worried that some of the asanas could be too hard for some of the students but I have gotten into the habit of demonstrating the asanas using props.  I know that students often want to mirror what the instructor is doing and showing the use of props makes the students more likely to use them.

At the end of class the students all thanked me for the great class.  That felt a little better because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t teaching for my needs but instead discovering something that might be good them while I was recovering from my injury.  And that IS exactly what happened.  My own back is finally feeling better!

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