Over the years, I accepted back pain as “normal.”
I thought it was simply my spine and learned to live with discomfort.
Even when a chiropractor slightly improved the bone position, the musculature was locked in pain-inducing patterns.
The cause was multi-faceted. Collapsing posture, asymmetry, poor movement patterns, and longterm energetic holding all played a role. I am tall, like to get on others’ eye level, and have loose joints. Years of laptops and phones made it worse.
I knew I needed to “stand up straight,” yet it wasn’t that easy. The muscles were locked in their habitual place. Holding patterns sculpted in childhood felt impossible to undo. At 30, my upper spine was sinking into hyper-kyphosis, or exaggerated rounding. The lower spine compensated by over-arching.
Eventually, I developed hand pain. Physical therapy, chiropractic, and an ergonomic keyboard helped, but nothing got rid of it. Finally, a yoga for backcare teacher looked at my shoulders and said “that’s the issue.”
I followed the personalized practice I was given, and all pain was gone in two weeks. Yes, seriously!
For years, I did fast vinyasa yoga and assumed it was good for my back. It turned out that I’d been strengthening existing patterns that cause pain, instead of creating new ones. Mind blown.
After shifting my practice, the change in my body was undeniable. I felt it at the muscular, skeletal, and energetic levels. Focusing on alignment and my spine’s individual needs changed everything.
I spent time every day with my back. Even five minutes. As old patterns softened and energy channels opened, I felt amazing! I imagined that prana, aka vital life force/breath/fundamental energy, was filling places up that it hadn’t reached before.
The first step was building AWARENESS, or consciousness of healthy vs. unhealthy patterns.
The awareness introduced by yoga bled into everyday life:
•How am I sitting, standing, cooking etc?
•What‘s the smartest way to exercise?
•How is best to sleep?
•Should I read or watch movies differently?
•How does yoga inform my ways of moving and being?
•What habits are strengthening negative physical patterns?
•Where can I carve out new, healthier habits?
Living pain-free changed my everyday life in ways I didn’t expect.
First, I stopped resenting my spine and accepted it, and therefore myself, as whole. It no longer felt like we were working *against* each other. Instead, we could work together, support one another, and do beautiful things.
Secondly, clearing my life of pain made room for joy! I noticed that laughter began showing up more easily. It’s not that joy and lightness weren’t there before, but sometimes they were stifled. They began bubbling up more freely.
I also learned to balance my nervous system. As someone who was anxiety-prone and whose nervous system was literally tangled up in the structure of my spine, the calm spaciousness I felt was incredible.
These changes all made me a better version of myself. They invited space between seeing and reacting. Feeling and doing. Thinking and speaking.
Clearing energetic blocks also supported inner work I’d been doing all along. Clearing emotional pain supported clearing physical pain, and vice versa. Initially I thought that the work of mental and emotional well-being was separate from the work of physical well-being, but of course they aren’t; all is connected.
What does this mean for you?
Whether you simply use your phone a lot or have structural challenges like herniation or scoliosis, I believe there’s hope for everyone. I’m so grateful to my teachers for sharing practices that can be modified for every body.
We all have life to manage, emails to answer, and kids and animals to love—not to mention the big issues of our time.
Maybe, just maybe, we can release pain on some level, walk around in our own bodies with comfort and ease, and laugh a little more.
Who knows? If your path is anything like mine, you’ll notice that greater ease in the body translates to ease in all parts of life.
Many of us have seen issues around pain—emotional, physical, or pharmaceutical—in our own families, friendships, and communities. I believe there’s a better way.