Back pain is an epidemic. Scientific research reports that Americans spend at least $50 billion a year on low back pain alone! In the last 16 years or so that I’ve been teaching yoga, back pain has consistently been the number one complaint of students coming through my classes.
Back pain has plagued me as well. I have spent a lot of money and time going from chiropractor to massage therapist to physical therapist to acupuncturists to energy healer– anyone who can help relieve my symptoms– only to have those same symptoms return again and again. I have spent untold hours on my yoga mat, hoping that my practice would magically heal me, chanting healing affirmations and contorting myself faithfully, only to find sometimes that I felt worse after my practice, not better…”What’s wrong with this picture?” I asked myself, “Why does the pain come back? Do I have to be a slave to some sort of external therapist for the rest of my life? Is this normal?”
Then one day the proverbial light bulb went off. It occurred to me that I’d been passively muddling along. Yes, I had made it through massage school and numerous yoga teacher trainings. I took anatomy courses in all of those trainings and earlier when I was in college, and loved it. Yes, I had tons of knowledge about bodies and movement– but I was still waiting for someone else to come along and fix me, and I was getting frustrated because it was taking them so long to arrive. I felt like sleeping beauty waiting for her prince, under some sort of mind paralyzing spell!
Once that spell was finally broken, I picked up my (numerous) anatomy books again with renewed zeal. I started researching other people’s journeys to wellness. I trained with skilled and innovative yoga therapists (thanks to Jill Miller and Maura Barclay for rocking my world with Yoga Tune Up).
In my quest for Intelligent Embodiment, I’ve become keenly interested in studying everything I can get my hands on having to do with self-care. I have become a detective of my own movement patterns and habits, and a champion of applied anatomy and the practice of proactive self-empowerment. Certainly I still need help from others, but now I feel like an active and educated participant in my own healing process rather than a miserable lump on a log. I haven’t figured it all out, nor have I found the Holy Grail of Total Painfreeness… However, I’ve made a lot of progress and I’m feeling so much better. I feel inspired instead of discouraged.
I am very excited to have been asked to lead the next two six-week sessions of Back Care at the West Seattle 8 Limbs. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been learning with others in this unique and intimate format. Together we will look at basic anatomy, common movement patterns (healthy and not so healthy). We’ll learn lifesaving self massage techniques that help increase circulation, healthy movement of tissues and self-awareness while decreasing pain and tension. We will learn to walk, to sit, to stand–to move in ways that honor our basic architecture. We will also practice simple and gentle back stretches and strengthening exercises designed to bring balance and harmony into our spine and the supporting structures of the spine. I hope you will join me on this great adventure of self-healing.
Posted by: Tracy Hodgeman
Join Tracy on Thursday nights at 7:15pm starting October 16 to help yourself go from back pain to back care! More info here.