By Angela Davey, Yoga Teacher & Normal Human with Back Pain… 

Anyone with experience of back pain knows that physical pain does more than inconvenience and interrupt your daily life. Being unable to move the way you once did, even for a short period of time, can set up a fear of the future. Will things go back to normal? Will I always feel pain or vulnerability in my spine? How has my back pain influenced and changed not just my physical activity but the way I view daily life?

As a yoga teacher I have enjoyed a pretty good range of spinal movement in my practice. I have had the odd twinge over the years and a short term shoulder issue but nothing compared to the experience of May 2021 when I “put my back out” lifting a heavy garden arbour. My pain and limitation of movement went on for many many months.

Back pain has a way of getting into your head. I found myself closing the lid on all my gardening and walking activities, initially finding these painful, but then deciding I “couldn’t do” this or that “because of my back” even when pain had really almost gone. Most worryingly for me I closed the lid on a lot of my yoga practice. Yes, some poses still hurt months and months down the line. However, the worst part was feeling that I was too unfit to teach my classes and practice. I adjusted my yoga and reeled it in so much that I was afraid of moving and worried to let that show in class. I lost confidence in myself, my body and the healing process. I became very stuck.

In February 2021 I came across a new teaching module “Yoga for BackCare”.It is offered by the British Wheel of Yoga and led by Anji Gopal. Anji is a practising yoga teacher and Osteopath with many valuable skills. I firstly joined Anji’s regular back care class online – I had shied away from anything more than gentle movement for a long time and was still fearful of pain. 

Week by week with Anji’s guidance I found myself moving in a pain free way and gaining confidence in my back. Anji’s classes are very carefully structured, and back-care specific. Not just focusing on mobility but building in muscular strength to support spinal health and whole-body wellness with a yoga flavour. My regular practice with Anji has meant a return of confidence, stronger muscles, a stronger spine, and ease of movement. I now rarely have back pain, but continue going to class. 

As a yoga teacher, I also joined Anji’s module for yoga teachers, learning much more of the anatomy and structure of the spine and supporting muscles and I gained my qualification as  Yoga for BackCare teacher myself so I can share this experience with others. Knowing what I know now, about my own experience and about how to teach yoga for back care, I teach to support those with and without pain and know that a regular practice most definitely works. The important thing was to persevere. I feel firmer, steadier and stronger through yoga for backare. 

Most importantly I no longer feel that my “back Pain” controls me, or what I do, or lives at the front of my head. I am back to walking, back to a much more varied yoga practice and teaching style and almost back to gardening (depending on my knees!).

Angela Davey is a Yoga Teacher in Bedfordshire, teaching Yoga for BackCare. Find out more here.

Work with Anji