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pregnancy and yoga




Relief of Stress and Back Pain

Sharon Caldwell


January 11, 2008, I ran a red light; I genuinely thought that I was alright. I was so wrong. I knew that I was shaken up and that I had really trashed the front end of my car. I went home to lie down and really did not get up again for five months. I hurt everywhere. I was unable to wear close fitting clothing and I could not sit up for more than a few minutes at a time. An MRI of my thoracic back was performed fairly early on and found a Schmorl’s node. A Schmorl’s node is an upward and downward protrusion (pushing into) of a spinal disk's soft tissue into the bony tissue of the adjacent vertebrae.

I had been experiencing back pain off and on for years and had no idea that I had such an injury. My doctor told me that it is caused by repetitive lifting and is frequently a problem weight lifters have. I am a fifty five year attorney and the only repetitive lifting I have done was at work moving large boxes of files.

Another MRI of my lower back revealed a torn disk and a cyst on the disk. For the five months I was off work. I was taking pain pills and other medications [anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers] that messed with my system and eventually made me feel hopeless. Yes, the doctor gave me an antidepressant. The pain and the hopelessness of not being able to go to work, read or do chores drained the life out of me. I had three epidural shots in my spine to help reduce the pain.

Both of my adult daughters had attended yoga classes with Monica Matthews and the younger one coaxed me to go with her to the gym because she thought it would help me. The physical therapist working with due to the car wreck encouraged me to do yoga to help build up my muscles to stabilize my back. I was afraid to do anything for fear that I would hurt worse. My daughter was insistent that I go with her, so I relented and went to a couple of classes before I had clearance from the doctor to do yoga. On those occasions I mostly watched sitting on my new yoga mat. Once cleared to “do Yoga” I joined the gym and started attending Monica’s classes. December 2009 marked a year that I have been attending Monica’s yoga classes. I have never done anything “exercise related” consistently for 3 months much less a year. There are few of the pose names that I can pronounce, but when she calls them out I know what to do. Sometimes my poses are not very pretty and I continue to really struggle with my lack of balance. I stand waiting for the elevator in the courthouse subtly holding one foot off the ground trying to improve my balance.

In the year I have been practicing yoga I stopped the all the pills and I rarely ever take even an Advil. I still hurt everyday but the level of pain has been dialed back to where I can function without the medications that mess with my system and my mind.

If I miss a yoga class I feel it in my back the next day. The pain intensifies and I know that I need to practice. I am not a person that “loves” yoga. Yoga helps me hurt less and move better. Yoga helps me focus on maintaining my life and my health. My home practice is poor as I have yet to become disciplined enough to practice everyday. When I do practice at home the interruptions drive me crazy, so I give up. Yoga has changed my life and I did not make it easy as I am not a gym kind of person. I am a books, chores, letters, gardening, cooking and work kind of person. I have learned though hard knocks that just has the car and the house and my teeth have to be maintained so do my muscles, bones and my mind. Yoga is a gift my body demands and I have learned that I need. Monica Matthews’ classes are challenging and enlightening. I have learned a great deal about my body and my capabilities while practicing yoga. I know that without the enduring practice I for sure will never improve and my pain will only increase. Medications are wonderful for illnesses, but my body is not sick it was injured, it is somewhat worn and it has not been properly maintained due to my sedentary lifestyle.

. . . Sharon Caldwell (March 2010)  

IMPORTANT! Before beginning your exercise program, talk with your doctor to make sure you do not have any obstetric or health condition that would limit your activity. Variations and modifications of the postures must take into account the needs and restrictions of the individual. Detailed guidelines are available at The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. We encourage you read through this important and informative resource.