A year ago I realized I love to lift weights. Recently I was able to do an American kettlebell swing with a 62 pound kettlebell and it was one of the most empowering days of my life. I felt like the Incredible Hulk! I was totally jazzed afterwards! But you better believe I was sore for the rest of the week. The soreness in my butt and leg muscles reminded me of my accomplishment and I reveled in it. I know I'm not the only one who thrives on muscle soreness. The soreness reminds us that we worked hard. However, there's one area of the body that causes so many people, including yoga students, concern when they feel soreness: the back.
I don't practice the Bikram series as much as I would like. Although there's so much controversy around Bikram the person, I think the series is quite brilliant. I believe the Bikram series works because it emphasizes all the natural ways in which the spine moves. Of course going too far in a backbend isn't natural and isn't good. And if you have a herniated disc the head to knee, deeply rounded postures might not be the best choices. But moving the spine is generally a good thing for most bodies and we shouldn't be afraid to do so.
When I sporadically make time for that 26, static posture, Bikram series I feel it the next day. I typically feel it around my ribs and my back. It's a soreness I don't typically feel from other forms of yoga or exercise. It's soreness that used to concern me. My back hurts! I must have done something wrong!
I work my arms, abs, legs, butt and I'm sore for days and I am thrilled! The muscles around my spine get worked a bit and I'm concerned. What's with that? I will not deny that the spine is a sensitive region. Back pain is incredibly common and some times it's something to be concerned about,. However, all back pain or soreness isn't bad. If you do a rigorous practice and you're aware of the muscles around your spine the next day don't let fear be your first response. Take a moment to reflect upon your practice. What did you do? Did you do something that required you to engage the muscles around your spine? Yes? Then don't be surprised if the muscles around your spine are sore!
I definitely don't mean to disregard anyone who is concerned with back pain. It's a real and sadly common thing. It comes down to awareness. My hope is that a consistent yoga practice will help students become more aware of their own body and not fear all sensations. When you become aware of your body, what feels normal and what doesn't, you can then make a better decision as to whether the pain you feel is just muscles that were worked or pain that should be addressed by a medical professional. (As great as I think yoga is, please, please, please contact a medical professional if you are at all concerned about back pain.)
I'll let you with one last thing to remember, moving your body is way better than not moving your body.