Rope Wall: Yoga for Back Pain

6 ways to practise yoga for back pain

Back pain: A common complaint

When I meet new students for the first time in the studio and ask if they have any pain or injuries I should be aware of, “I have a bad back” is one of the most common responses I hear.

Some students feel fearful about making their back pain worse and others are determined to try yoga, to see if it can help ease their pain.

If someone tells me they have back issues, I’ll reassure them to gently move at their own pace to help alleviate their pain, and to stop if something doesn’t feel right. It’s important that students listen to their bodies to avoid pain, although some discomfort is quite normal.

In 2020 I completed a specialist spine anatomy training module with my teacher Jo Phee, so I’m well qualified to work with people with back pain. However, I always recommend double checking with the doctor or physio first.

The best yoga for back pain? Meet the Rope Wall!

We have a unique setup here at SPACE Yoga Studio – our amazing Rope Wall, which is the only one on the Isle of Man.

The Yoga Rope Wall was first developed and refined by BKS Iyengar, who used simple secured ropes as a prop to support and intensify his yoga practice. Using the ropes with gravity and natural resistance causes the body to open much further than in regular yoga practice. Iyengar called this rope work ‘Yoga Kurunta’ or ‘Yoga Puppetry’. Today, the Rope Wall has developed into a specific system of adjustable straps and a more comfortable pelvic swing to accommodate every height and body type, from beginners to advanced yogis.

The Rope Wall brings a fresh perspective to understanding yoga poses, from backbends and forward bends, to twists and inversions, helping direct the body and mind toward a state of equanimity and balance. Safely supported by the traction of the ropes for stretch and strengthening the hard to reach places of the spine. Anchoring a pose, yet expanding movement, allowing for increased mobility in the joints. Supported inversions are really beneficial – and can be fun too!

Worried about arthritis?

Did you know? A little known fact is that the only two mammals that never get arthritis are bats and sloths, who spend most of their lives upside down! Obviously, as humans we aren’t designed to be upside down permanently, but there are definitely benefits to occasional inversions.

Rope Wall: Yoga for Back Pain

The benefits of a Rope Wall for back pain

A rope yoga practice, safely supported by the traction of ropes and swings, provides an opportunity to refine your breathing and go deeper into the postures, reaching places that a regular practice simply cannot take you.

The Rope Wall offers several benefits for back pain and we have some regular students with back issues who’ve found great relief from working with me on the Rope Wall.

Here are some benefits of using a Rope Wall for back pain:

  1. Spinal decompression: The Rope Wall allows for gentle traction and decompression of the spine. Hanging in a supported inversion, or using the ropes to stretch and elongate the spine, can help alleviate compression and pressure on the spinal discs, reducing back pain.
  2. Increased flexibility and mobility: The Rope Wall provides support and stability, allowing you to safely explore a wider range of motion. By utilising the ropes to support and assist in various poses and stretches, you can gently stretch and lengthen the muscles, promoting flexibility and mobility in the back and surrounding areas.
  3. Improved posture: The Rope Wall can assist in correcting postural imbalances and misalignments that can contribute to back pain.
  4. Strengthening of core and back muscles: The Rope Wall offers resistance and support, making it an effective tool for strengthening the core and back muscles. By engaging these muscles while utilising the ropes, you can strengthen the muscles that support the spine, reducing the strain and discomfort associated with back pain.
  5. Relaxation and stress relief: The supportive nature of the Rope Wall can promote a sense of relaxation and deep release, helping to reduce stress and tension held in the back as well as the entire body. Relaxing and surrendering to the support of the ropes can have a calming effect on the nervous system, aiding in pain management and overall wellbeing. The best part of the class is to relax with the head cradled in the sling.

All Rope Wall classes at SPACE are taught by Dee who’s completed an advanced module in spine anatomy with Jo Phee.

5 additional ways to practise yoga for back pain

If the Yoga Rope Wall doesn’t appeal to you, we offer other yoga classes which are also great for managing and reducing back pain. Here are some tips on how to treat back pain with yoga:

  1. Start with gentle stretches: Begin your yoga practice with gentle stretches to warm up your body and prepare it for deeper poses. Focus on poses that stretch the muscles in your back, such as the cat-cow stretch, child’s pose and seated forward bend.
  2. Strengthen your core: A strong core can provide support for your back. Poses like plank, boat pose and bridge pose can help strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, reducing strain on the spine.
  3. Practise gentle twists: Twisting poses can help relieve tension in the back and stretch the muscles. The seated spinal twist or supine twist are good options. Make sure to twist from your waist, not from your neck.
  4. Take it slow and listen to your body: It’s important to listen to your body and not push beyond your comfort level. If any pose causes pain or discomfort, modify it or skip it altogether. Be patient and give yourself time to progress as you build strength and flexibility.
  5. Relaxation and meditation: Incorporate relaxation techniques and mindfulness meditation into your yoga practice. Deep breathing, meditation and relaxation can help reduce stress and tension, which in turn can alleviate back pain.

Remember: it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen, particularly if you have existing back issues or injuries. Hopefully, they’ll support you in trying yoga for your back pain.

Don’t just take my word for it!

Here’s a lovely testimonial from a SPACE student who’s seen a great improvement in her back pain since taking up yoga:

“I have suffered from chronic back pain for many years and felt the only option I was getting from doctors was to take numerous medications. Looking for an alternative, I tried rope yoga and the difference is incredible!! I’m now pain free most of the time and I have so much more mobility. Dee is very good and very aware of everyone’s individual ailments and needs, so I always feel looked after. I also attend Yin yoga which has some really gentle but strong stretches. I think the combination of the Rope Wall and Yin yoga have made a life-changing difference to me. I cannot recommend it enough.” – Karen

Join us in the studio

If you’re ready to try one of our rope yoga or other yoga classes, go ahead and book a class online.

If you’d prefer to discuss your back issues with me before coming to class, feel free to send me a message.

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