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Justine Shelton

Justine Shelton

Certified Viniyoga Therapist and E-RYT500 Registered Yoga Teacher

Justine Shelton, E-RYT500 is a Registered Yoga Teacher and AVI-Certified Viniyoga Therapist. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Yoga Vista Academy an Advanced Gentle Yoga Teacher Training and Accreditation School, and was initially trained at Soul of Yoga in Encinitas, CA in their Sundara College Teacher Training. She later taught Anatomy and Physiology for the Sundara program and True Nature School of Yoga in Vista and Oceanside, CA.

Justine graduated from Loyola College of Maryland with a B.A. in Sociology and History, putting herself through college on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. As a ‘recovering’ athlete, she was thrilled to find yoga. Letting go of competition came as a huge relief, allowing her to focus on healing her own body. Now her passion is helping others to heal themselves.



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Can Yoga help Lower Back Pain?

Question:

I have problems with my lower back and it was suggested by my doctor to do yoga. He also said remember "BLT".- Do not bend, lift or twist with a back like mine. My L4 and L5 are out of alignment which has created hip trouble from time to time. I just had a second shot in my spine on Wednesday and have gotten relief for the hip but not my back. What type of yoga would be good for me and under what category should I choose (eg, physically challenged, arthritis,etc.) I am a 54 year old female. I sat in an office chair leaning forward for over 20 years then as a cleaner for people and their houses for over 7 years.

Answer by Justine:

Yoga could be a great help to you and you need to know the contraindications for your condition so you don't do harm.  From your question it sounds as though in addition to having  L-4 and L-5 out of alignment, you also have at least degenerative disc disease if not bulging or blown discs.  I am assuming the shot in your back was to help relieve pressure on the nerves.  Your doctor is right about 'BLT' and we need to outline that further.  

LowBackStretchThe safest position for you to practice yoga in is on your back so the spine is long (ie uncompressed) and stable.  Forward bending from this position is safe because the spine is stable, so lying on your back and drawing the knee(s) into your chest will serve to stretch the musculature of the low back and bring movement and fluid into the interveterbral discs of the low back which is very healing.  

Also, lying on your back with your bottom close to the front of the couch and the back of your calves on the seat will feel very good - it increases circulation to the low back (healing only happens with circulation) and helps to align the spine, 10 - 20 minutes 1-2 times per day if you can.  Poses that focus on axial extension (length from the tailbone through the crown of the head) are good choices, as well as poses that strengthen the core musculature - not just abs, but the musculature of the front and back of the lower torso.

As far as what type of yoga would be good for you, I would advise finding a teacher who is trained and has experience working with people with your condition....and they could be trained in a number of traditions.  My first suggestion would be to look up a viniyoga teacher (www.viniyoga.com) or possibly an Iyengar teacher in your area.  Please avoid asthanga yoga with your condition.  Chair yoga is also not the best option for your condition, as it stabilizes the hips and any forward bending you would do would be FAR too risky.  

Most importantly, listen to your body as your number one teacher.  Any knife like, stabbing, shooting, tingling pain back off - never let a teacher push you past your limit.  I wish you luck in your journey to getting healthy and pain free!  Please write back with any more questions...or any success stories!

In health,
Justine

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