Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

Posted by elliott on 8/29/02 at 14:04 (093891)

I have been suffering from sciatica ever since around the time of my first foot surgery, whose 3-year anniversary is today. It's better than it was a year ago, but it's still bothersome, and even if I continue to see improvement, if it continues at this same slow rate, it might be another several years of suffering before it fades. It is presumably caused by a bulging L4-L5 disc, although according to the MRI, my pain should not be quite this severe. But as my chiro/PT guy keeps saying, 'The patients didn't read the textbook to know what kind of pain they're supposed to be having.'

I've been doing yoga and had an epidural which helped. Had 4 months of chiro/PT with almost no change.

I met an osteopath this morning, an acquaintance who noticed me coming down steps toddler fashion (first foot down, next foot down to same step level as first, repeat), which I often do as a precaution for my feet, so we started talking. He went on to tell me he can do a lot for sciatica. Of course, it would cost $165 for the first visit, around $65-85 for additional visits, depending on what he does (alignments, herbs, shots, etc.). When I asked about insurance, he said he doesn't take insurance but insurance takes him (clever, that), meaning you pay in full and then he submits the forms to insurance, which typically covers rather little.

I just started subscribing to Yoga Journal. The price is nice, lot's to read. A bit too much of a feminine bent, but a guy in clogs fits right in. :-) Funny, but I thought the magazine's stress would be on how yoga cures all your problems. There's some of that, but there's loads and loads of stuff on how doing other things will enhance your yoga. In my very first issue, there are articles on Indian dancing, going to a bodyworker, rolfing (where different parts of your body get pressed and bent to go places they've never been before), Thai massage (where a little Thai woman picks up someone twice her weight and throws him around into yoga postions, stands on him, etc.), Marma point massage, and, well, you get the idea. Tells you where to find its practioners too. The rolfing article referred to someone whose sciatica got cured from it, and the writer was able to achieve a split after it! The Thai massage also allegedly cured someone's sciatica. (Even the ads get into the act, where I can buy an inversion sling to be hung from my ceiling, and then I hang upside down in it, supposedly great for nerve compressions in the back, not to mention as a valuable yoga prop.)

This is all great education and I appreciate it. While I may not wholeheartedly believe every latest American adaptation of Far East wonders, I also have a more open mind now, especially after realizing that surgery isn't always the answer. Problem is, these treatments ain't cheap, typically around $75 a session, with around 10 sessions often recommended.

Now I'd gladly pay--even borrow--$750 to try one of these things and hopefully get cured, but obviously I don't want to pay $7500 to try ALL of these things and NOT get cured.

I hope it's not just a crapshoot as to what will or will not work. Any ideas on which are really worth a shot? I'm thinking of the sciatica in particular, but if it cures my feet too and enables me to do a split, so much the better.

----

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

john h on 8/29/02 at 14:34 (093893)

Elliott: 18 years I had surgery on the low back (L5-S1) (L4-L5). I have always been under the impression that part of the disc on the left side was removed and that the opening where the nerve exits was widened. I recetnly had an MRI and the surgeon who read it as I watched said that my disc were basically fully intact so if any was removed it was not showing on the MRI. I had the Doctors from the Bonati Institute in Florida read it. They make no charge for this if you want to mail them your MRI. You can find them at http://www.bonati.com

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

dave r on 8/29/02 at 14:45 (093894)

If you buy that thing that hangs from the ceiling please post a picture of you in it. :)

Re: MRIs

elliott on 8/29/02 at 15:57 (093896)

I don't think there's anything more to evaluate from the MRI. The first was read a long while back by a neurosurgeon who is Chief of this and Chief of that (the only thing missing is a wigwam), who showed me himself what he saw, as well as the back guy who did my scope-guided epidural. Had a second MRI not too long ago, this time with that dye stuff, and it was read by one of the best radiologists in my state with much lumbar spine experience, who showed me that the disc is shrinking. I think I'm past the worst, wanna get through this without surgery. While there are plenty of success stories, there are also plenty of horror stories, such as one's back collapsing on itself as more and more discs need to be removed over the years.

No tips on the 'wacky' treatments?

----

Re: until then...

elliott on 8/29/02 at 16:09 (093897)

check out the person in the on-line ad:

http://www.yogaprops.net/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=yp&Category_Code=3_sling

I still have a lot of things to work out about this. Given limitations such as smaller bedrooms with ceiling fans, the ideal place for it to hang is in the foyer, located right through the front door and looking directly into the living room and kitchen. This sounds great to me, but then I'll have to go through a messy divorce and end up not getting to stay in the house anyway. As the country music song says,

I couldn't believe what the judge had to tell us,
I get the jeep and she gets the palace,
I'm goin' thru the big 'D' I don't mean Dallas

Maybe it'll fit downstairs somewhere...

----

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

Julie on 8/29/02 at 16:34 (093898)

Elliott

If you decide to go to the osteopath, he may have an inversion machine (not the sling in the ad, but a more substantial contraption that you go upside down on). It's a bit like being on the rack, and it really is good for stretching the spine and relieving nerve compression.

If you're getting interested in reading about yoga, you might like to have a look at Yoga International. I like Yoga Journal, but I like YI better: it has some excellent contributors, including Donna Farhi, who used to write for YJ, and whose regular articles on asana are splendid; also Sandra Anderson, and Rolf Sovik.

They give a web address of yimag.org. I haven't checked it out (there must be a http://www . in there somewhere, maybe even an http//) . Postal address RR1 Bix 1130, Honesdale, PA 18431-9718.

Re: Box - not 'Bix'

Julie on 8/29/02 at 16:35 (093899)

.

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

BrianG on 8/29/02 at 17:28 (093902)

Hi Elliott,

I think I'd check out the Osteopath a little closer, before using him. In my state, they take insurance just like doctors, dentists, Pods, etc. Maybe this guy's card has been pulled, or something else just as weird.

Keep at it
BrianG

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

DJ on 8/29/02 at 18:04 (093908)

I went through prolotherapy with an osteopath. Although this didn't work for me, I think it could work for others. In my view, osteopaths simply keep an open mind to alternative and newer methods of healing. The mistake I made was not giving up on it soon enough. I ended up spending a lot of money that I could of blown on other failed treatment methods. I was covered partly by insurance, after meeting a deductable.

Re: thanks

elliott on 8/29/02 at 20:59 (093923)

YI is the first link that pops up when I type 'yoga international' into hotbot.com. Seems like it's a bit on the erotic side as well as teacher-oriented. Let me take in YJ for a bit and I'll see. Appreciate it.

I've read and asked about the inversion machine too, and gave that some thought (it's probably more economical and convenient to buy one than have to go to the osteo every time you want to use one), but I decided I'd rather waste $85 on something that doesn't work than $300 on something that doesn't work. :-) I am basing this on a sample of one, john h, I think it was, who posted a long while back that he hung in that thing for months and it didn't do anything. The sling might in theory be superior in that, in addition to its value as a yoga prop, you stretch your leg muscles at the same time you're doing traction, although it's probably less comfortable than an inversion table the longer you hang around.

---

Re: LOL! now *that* is funny! (nm)

elliott on 8/29/02 at 21:00 (093925)

.

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

john h on 8/30/02 at 10:32 (093978)

I had an Inversion Machine. Wasted money!

Re: thanks

john h on 8/30/02 at 14:37 (093994)

Hey Elliott: my inversion machine did not cost any $300 as it was closer to $600, That was 12 or more years ago. I had it for my back. With PF and the big inversion boots that come with it I do not thing it would be very good for PF. Mine was stainless steel and it took a day to finally get into the rythum of going upside down and hanging like a bat. You used your body weight as you tilted back and forth to finally reached the inverted position. Mine was in the garage where all the people walking and running by could observe the idiot hanging upside down in his garage.

Re: To John h

Pauline on 8/30/02 at 15:04 (093996)

John,
Just wondering why you haven't tried an additional ESWT treatment using the Dornier for your remaining P.F.? I'm wondering if you could achieve a total cure with that additional treatment.

Re: inversion table prices

elliott on 8/30/02 at 15:12 (093997)

Maybe they've come down since your day. Or maybe you had the super-deluxe version that doesn't work. :-) Anyway, below is a smattering of prices, most between $200 and $400. Only one was way up there.

http://www.healthyback.com/store/relaxing/inversiontable.htm

http://www.inversiontherapy.com/products/f5000.html

http://www.inversiontherapy.com/products/f9000.html

http://www.inversiontherapy.com/products/power.html

http://www.cheapfitness.com/inver_table.htm

http://www.vitalityweb.com/backstore/inversion.htm

http://momentum98.com/overeasy.html

http://www.fitness-equipment.com/Inversion_Table_Chair.htm

http://www.hangups4less.com/order.htm

http://www.wonderfulbuys.com/sports_and_fitness/healmarintab.html

--------------

Re: To John h

john h on 8/30/02 at 18:20 (094008)

Pauline: Future ESWT with one of the newer machines is high on my to do list. AS you know all my treatments were with the Orby and I do believe they helped. I just have to figure out the timing as I still work and all this involves travel and MONEY as you know. Several week ago I brought on a setback with my climbing a ladder and messing around aon my 30 degree pitched roof. I then brillantly walked about three miles in sandals. I am real smart these days.

Re: Prolotherapy, save your $$$

BrianG on 8/30/02 at 21:07 (094032)

Hi DJ,

There have been a few people here, myself included, that tried Prolotherapy for PF. Forget it, I've never heard of it helping anyone with PF. I have heard that it helps other ailments, like tendon / shoulder injuries.

Good luck
BrianG

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

F.H. on 9/01/02 at 20:25 (094167)

Are you sure you don't have a bacterial infection causing your sciatica?

Re: A much cheaper option

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/02/02 at 10:10 (094205)

One concept behind inversion therapy is the ability to distract vertebrae (intervertebral traction). As the vertebrae are pulled upart the intervertebral discs get 'sucked in.'

There is a contraversial therapy known as VAX-D which basically looks like a modern version of the medieval torture rack. 'VAX-D' basically stands for 'vertebral axial decompression.' The machine basically pulls on the discs in a rhythmic fashion with a pretdetermined amount of force. The benefit comes from the distraction of the disc which pulls in the disc and presumably the pumping action pulls fluid/nutrition into the disc. A number of centers were set up a few years ago and i have since lost track-- may do a search on the net.

And now... for my version........
I really like Roman chairs. There are a number of versions with inexpensive versions starting at about $150 (which is what I have at home).
They basically allow one to do a 'reverse' sit up starting with one hanging the upper body upside down over the edge of the pad. Basically one is contracting the low back muscles while simultaneously distracting the lower discs -- L4,L5,S1, which are usually the problems ones. You thus achieve rhythmic disc distraction, increase blood flow to the area and strenghten the paraspinal muscles which support the area.

And now...the deluxe version.....
When in a health club, push the Roman chair up to a cable pull machine. Assemble the cable pull as if you were going to do a standing curl. Start the exercise above which is the reverse sit up but grasp the cables with both hands. The Roman chair should be several feet away from the cable pull so that as you are lifting your body, you are not only getting resistance from the cable but the cable is essentially pulling/distracting your lower body (something that may take a bit of practice and visualization--- start with very light weight).

Disclaimer-- I am a foot specialist so don't consider this to be a professional recommendation.

Ed

Re: PS I really think this works

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/02/02 at 10:16 (094206)

I am sitting, leaning forward as I work all day. Low backs really get sore in the podiatry field so I can personally, as opposed to professionally, vouch for the exercises I have recommended. A lot will depend on the severity of the disc problem -- one with a ruptured disc definitely should seek professional help before starting any such exercise program.
Ed

Re: PS I really think this works

john h on 9/02/02 at 11:40 (094223)

There is at least one exercise Dr. Ed that is reported in some cases to help a protruding disc pull back into it's proper space. This comes from the Texas Back Institute which is a world renouuned institute in the treatment of back problems. The founder of the institute Dr. Steven Hochschuler published a book 'Back In Shape' which is one of the best books I have read (illustrated). The book is soft cover and relatively inexpensive. It was on Amazon or could be ordered from the web site which I think is http://www.texasback.com or their toll free Back Pain Hotline 1-800-247-BACK. I have seen Doctors from this Institute several times on The Today Show.

Dr. Hochschuler notes that 50% of all back surgeries are not necessary.

Re: PS I really think this works / For Julie

john h on 9/02/02 at 11:52 (094224)

In looking over the Texas Back Institute web site (www.texasback.com) they do say that Yoga is one of the best of all exercises for back problems and you can basically advance as far as you want. Currently they are the only Institute in the U.S. who the FDA will allow to place an artifical disc in the L5/S1 or L4/L5 area.

Re: To John h

Carole C in NOLA on 9/02/02 at 13:43 (094243)

John, I know that like me you are over 50, but I didn't know that (like me) you still work. It is hard to spend vacation time on ESWT. As for money, well, I suppose it would just mean that you'd have to work a few months longer before retiring. That wouldn't appeal to me either. I'm ready to retire tomorrow if I had the money to do so.

Sorry to hear about your setback! Don't be so hard on yourself. You've had PF for 7-8 years or so, and it's completely understandable that you can't spend your whole life not walking much and not climbing on your roof.

I hope your new Mephistos didn't play a part in it. Until now I thought you were doing better than me, but I tend to recover from 'over-walking' faster than that. Of course, I am the Queen of Rest so maybe that has something to do with it. Don't forget what you taught me, which is to ICE for a long time when you are hurting.

Carole C

Re: John

Julie on 9/02/02 at 16:48 (094273)

Thanks, John. I'm glad they feel that, and I'm inclined to agree, but have to add the proviso that there are different 'styles' of yoga. Some are more helpful for people with back problems than others, and some could be disastrous. There are also teachers and teachers, and with yoga undergoing a spell of fashionability at present, there are lots of poorly qualified ones around.

And don't believe anyone who tells you that you can't hurt yourself (or your back) doing yoga. You can.

Re: To John h

john h on 9/02/02 at 17:01 (094275)

Carole: As a young man you always dream of retiring. When the time comes and you can retire it is not what you expect (in my case). I retired about 8 or 9 years ago and after about three months had fixed every thing there was to fix at home and had become completely bored. Fortunately my company called me and asked me to come back. I have no plans for retirement and will work until I cannot work. Not because of money but because that is what I do.

Re: retirement

Carole C in NOLA on 9/02/02 at 17:58 (094283)

Every morning when the alarm clock rings at 5:30, I am motivated to retire.

Last year Bobbie asked me what I would do if I retired. It never occurred to me to think about it, until then. I started a list of things I would do. My brother, who has been retired for a year or two, started a list of his own. When we think of something new, we e-mail the other one because a lot of the things we want to do are the same.

I currently have 21 things on my list (only one of which was 'puttering around the house'). When I sent my list to Bobbie, he could only come up with three or four of his own. He is not sure if he wants to retire or not, although he's four years older than me and is being offered lots of incentives to retire.

Although I may find out when I retire that it is not at all what I expect, I'm pretty sure I will like it. I am VERY ready for it. Only 2625 days until I can first qualify for a reduced retirement. If I maintain the same standard of living and put the excess into the house, it will be paid off by that time.

Carole C

Re: yoga

elliott on 9/02/02 at 22:12 (094313)

Julie, I agree with everything you say (I must be mellowing :-)). John, a year and a half of yoga didn't cure my back problems either. Sometimes I get the feeling that if I could just take some difficult pose all the way that I would be cured. But that could be years away, and I might hurt myself trying too. You soon find out that yoga is something that involves a lifetime of progression. It seems to me that its main value is in coping, not curing specific ailments. Yeah, maybe it'll cure what I'll call 'wimpy' sciatica, i.e. coming from imbalance or a tight muscle such as piriformis, but when it's coming from a disc, well, maybe not. The neuro I saw, who himself is from the Far East and practices yoga, said it won't cure the problem, but he does recommend it to his patients post-surgery. I think yoga also has preventative powers; many who take it due to various injuries feel they never would have got it in the first place had they regularly practiced it, but then again, they would've never thought to take it until after the injury.

---

Re: retirement

Julie on 9/03/02 at 03:19 (094317)

Carole, I am sure you will love retirement! It sounds as though you can't wait. It also sounds like the perfect combination: you have a job you love and that challenges you and is often exciting, and you have 21 plans for what you're going to do when those 2625 days are over. Wonderful.

I took 'early retirement' at 55 from a long working life in publishing, so that I could pay more attention to my new life, which as you know is teaching yoga and writing. That was 12 years ago. I'm still feeling liberated. It's good to be doing what feels like my real life's work, while still having plenty of time to do other things. And potter (putter).

For example. It's 9.30 am. I've spent the last hour doing some 'admin', and when I've disentangled myself from my keyboard, I am going swimming, then food shopping. Then we'll have lunch. At 4.30 I shall drive into town to teach my Tuesday evening class.

Hmmm . When I woke up I thought I had a busy day ahead of me. Having written that down, it sounds like fun! That's my retirement for you.

Re: retirement

Carole C in NOLA on 9/03/02 at 07:56 (094325)

It does sound like fun! When I retire, I'd love to write a book. It doesn't matter to me if it is actually published or not... I just want to see what it is like to write something that long. I was delighted to find out that writing a book is on my brother's list of retirement plans, too. He wants to write a novel, and I'd prefer to write non-fiction. We promised each other that we'd read the other's book, so I will have an 'audience' of at least one. The reason I'm saving the experience of writing a book for retirement, is that for continuity I'd like to devote at least several hours per day to it until it is done.

And then there are the 20 other plans that I have, many of which are less ambitious and probably even more fun... :) I'm sure that I'll never be bored!

Your retirement sounds delightful. I do think I will enjoy mine when I can retire. Right now it looks like that will be at least 2624 days from now.

Carole C

Re: yoga

Julie on 9/03/02 at 09:31 (094337)

Elliott

Yes: I don't think yoga 'cures' anything (though there have been very good results with ailments such as asthma) and I would always caution anyone with back problems, especially disc-originating, to choose a class and a teacher carefully, and to be very careful about what they do in their practice. It sounds as though you've been fortunate with yours.

But. well practised, yoga can help with most things. You're absolutely right about yoga's preventive powers, and about coping. Good practice will strengthen muscles, including those that support the back, as well as increase overall flexibility. And practising yoga builds the inner strength, the stability and stamina and trust, that help one to cope with whatever happens in life.

No, yoga is no 'cure', but it is healing: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

It sounds to me as though you ARE mellowing, and I think yoga may be behind it. Yoga does change you!

:)) Julie

I meant to say the other day that there's nothing erotic about the approach of Yoga International. You probably saw the heading on the current cover, which flags a fascinating article about the erotic sculpture on the temples at Khajuraho. It's not teacher-oriented, either - the practical articles are certainly useful for teachers (I find them so) but very much geared to students.

Re: yoga

JudyS on 9/03/02 at 09:44 (094340)

Elliott, I think you hit on a key ingredient here - prevention. I'm not experienced in yoga although I do have a daily stretching routine that incorporates a handful of modified yoga postures. But more importantly for me, I think my strengthening program is a serious prevention tool. As I progress with it, I continually feel the muscles in my lower legs take the work off the muscles/tendons in my feet. It's a great feeling. And I now understand why docs and PT's always want a PF sufferer to get into strenghtening with the rubber band or other exercises. Having said that, I think that what the docs don't understand is that strengthening work on isolated foot muscles while in the height of chronic PF seems to make things worse. I think it's better to target the entire leg instead and that it's got to be a little at a time.

Re: A much cheaper option

elliott on 9/03/02 at 09:51 (094341)

Wouldn't something like lifts off a stability ball as well as lying in an inverted position over it do the same thing? And for something more aggressive, there are always yoga poses such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward-Facing Bow Pose), where you form a high inverted arched bridge with your body, with only hands and feet touching the ground.

For some reason, I have no limitations at all on my back movements. I wish there were a clear plan, e.g. do x number of reps of this and that exercise daily, and then expect to be cured or much better in y days. There's no such advice out there. There is still dispute in the medical profession as to whether any exercise other than swimming and walking is good altogether.

----

Re: yoga

elliott on 9/03/02 at 10:47 (094344)

Regarding Yoga Int., if you type 'yoga international' into hotbot.com, the first link title that pops out claims that it's geared towards teachers, so that's where I got that impression. Do you think I'd prefer YI? I'm pretty happy with YJ; lot's to read, great photography. There are some things that don't interest me, such as all the articles and ads about going out to yoga reserves; I never realized how 'in' all of that is, but for me it will never happen. More importantly--and Julie, if you'd like to comment on this--my religion is not exactly in sinc with the historical roots and traditions of yoga. They constantly connect a pose to its religious origins and stress that this is what you should be thinking about when doing it, especially the elevation of animals and inanimate onjects to virtual equals of humans. I must admit to sort of feeling like the animal a pose is named after while I'm doing it (e.g. swan pose), but I don't share the religious philosophy of elevating the animal to human stature (a Buddhist concept to be sure). The Gita? Well, my wife's named Gitta! That's about as far as it goes. What I'm trying to say is, I respect the origins of yoga, but I'm not trying to strive towards some ultimate yogi monk level. It's hard for me to imagine life without yoga now, but I'd like to use it just for its coping and fitness effects without mixing in the other things. I hope that's OK and there's no conflict with that.

---

Re: yoga

Carole C in NOLA on 9/03/02 at 12:12 (094350)

Elliott,

I don't know much about yoga, but I know that you don't have to be Buddhist to practice yoga. It's one of those things that grew out of and beyond a religion, just like beautiful stained glass originated in churches but grew beyond its religious origin.

Some of the best of man's endeavors and creative energies have been inspired by religion and have then continued beyond their roots later on.

Carole C

Re: yoga

Julie on 9/03/02 at 16:56 (094378)

There's no conflict, Elliott. Yoga is for everyone, and different people come to it for different reasons and with different needs. Most people find they get more than they came for. You yourself have moved well beyond your original reasons for starting. I'm glad you can't imagine life without it. You may in time find yourself more attuned to its spiritual roots, but right now you should just carry on enjoying it, take what you need from it and what it gives you, and don't worry about the rest. I'm sure it will continue to give you what you're looking for.

Yoga isn't a religion. Its roots are in Hinduism, but many believe it is older than Hinduism. Although in India there is an unbroken tradition of yoga, in fact it's universal, and has been practised everywhere in one form or another: American Indian spirituality, for example (particularly the Hopi tradition which is uncannily close to it) has much in common with it. Some people who are religious find that yoga brings them closer to their religion, and that it deepens their experience of it, their worship and their relation to God. This is why I said earlier that yoga is healing. Atheists practise yoga too, but many move towards God through their yoga practice.

There's no conflict. It's a broad church (bad choice of word, but you know what I mean).

The postures that are named for animals are thought to have originated from the early yogis' observation of animals in the forests: they saw that animals knew how to keep themselves healthy, watched what they did, and developed the postures from their observations. Some of the most wonderful of the classical poses have come from this: i.e. Bhujangasana (Cobra). I've not come across teachers who insist on the 'elevation of animals to human status'. Perhaps that's your teacher's feeling and belief? Could you accept that that's his feeling - presumably it stems from his reverence for all life, which underlies other religions besides Buddhism - without necessarily agreeing? It can undermine or dilute one's experience if one has a mental conflict going on. As long as your instructor's instructions are precise and helpful, and you enjoy doing the postures - be happy!

I don't know if you'd enjoy Yoga International more than Yoga Journal - I just thought you might enjoy it, as you're getting interested in reading. I take several yoga magazines and enjoy them all.

Re: yoga

Julie on 9/03/02 at 16:58 (094379)

Carole, that's a brilliant observation. Thanks for this lovely post.

Re: Yoga and Religion

wendyn on 9/03/02 at 20:11 (094393)

Julie, I first started doing yoga for flexibility. Along the way I came to realize how beneficial it is for things like relaxation and focus. It certainly has helped me improve many aspects of my life.

My teacher does not bring up many of the more 'spiritual' aspects in class, but she sometimes shares tidbits from her own experience and what's happening in her life. Some if it is pretty far off from what I belive, but I don't have any problem just doing the 'smile and nod'. I take what I want, and I leave the rest. No big deal.

We have people in our class from a number of religions, and I think that it works out just fine. If one wants to pursue the more spiritual aspects of yoga, there are other classes for that.

Elliott, maybe that's where you've ended up in a more 'spiritual' class? Maybe you could find a class that's more Yoga for Mainstream, With No Heavy Religious Overtones?

Re: Yoga and Religion

elliott on 9/03/02 at 21:04 (094397)

No, not the class, the magazine. It takes a derogatory attitude towards American stripped-down yoga--doing it just for the beautiful body and all that. I understand what they're saying. But when I do Cobra, I really don't want to be a snake. When I do Tree pose, I don't want to be a tree. The magazine makes it sound like one should.

----

Re: Yoga and Religion

wendyn on 9/03/02 at 21:11 (094399)

Oh - sorry, I read the message too fast.

There are some days when I feel like a snake. Or a slug. But it's never a good thing.

Re: Yoga and Religion

Carole C in NOLA on 9/04/02 at 11:16 (094437)

I'd be willing to bet that nobody reading that magazine has ever actually become a snake or a tree during their present lifetime. Reincarnation as a different life form is not part of my belief system, but I suppose if they want to believe they will be reincarnated as a tree they can believe that.

On the other hand, we human beings are capable of seeing aspects of other humans or creatures that we might admire. There are times when I'd like to be more calm and steady like a tree, even though I'd never want to BE a tree (ick!). I can see how something like yoga might be helpful in that respect.

From what I've heard about yoga (and bear in mind that I really know nothing at all about it), yoga has a mental as well as a physical part. I can see why they would be derogatory about people that just dropped the mental part and went for the beautiful body. Does the mental part imply that you have to believe in reincarnation? I suspect they are full of baloney if they are saying that. From what I've heard, the mental part has to do with things like meditation, centering, and finding inner peace. I think these are beautiful goals for anyone, and I don't think they require any one particular religion or any religion at all.

Carole C

Re: Yoga and Religion

Julie on 9/04/02 at 13:32 (094447)

Carole, you know more about yoga than you think. This is precisely the point, and it's lovely that you've seen it without having had any experience of yoga.

When you practise the Tree pose, awareness of the qualities of the Tree - the calmness and steadiness you mention, and its groundedness, deep-rootedness, protectiveness - may help you to develop those qualities within yourself. So you're not just 'doing an exercise' for its possible physical benefits.

Practising the Cobra, you don't, of course, 'become' a snake, but over time you might develop the steady focus, the concentration, of the Cobra, when it fixes its gaze on its prey before it strikes. So it's not just a 'backbend'. There is a pose called the Warrior, which is truly strengthening in every way: physically, certainly, but also mentally and emotionally.

All yoga postures can be approached in this way,and if they are practised with this awareness, they are centering and meditative in themselves. And they lead naturally on to meditation and inner peace, which, as you rightly say, are all part of yoga.

Reincarnation is certainly at the core of Hindu and yogic philosophy, and is accepted by many people who practise yoga. It doesn't mean 'becoming' a slug, or snake a saint. What it really means is that the death of the body is not the end, that the soul, or spirit, or energy, however one likes to think of it, that has been the essence of a person, migrates after the body has been shed, and continues, eventually, in another body. It isn't lost: the learning that has accumulated during a lifetime of experience, joy and suffering isn't wasted.

Reincarnation is an integral part of the concept of karma, which isn't 'fatalism', but the law of cause and effect. With every thought, every action, we are constantly creating karma. We can't change the karma that we've created in the past, and we have to accept its consequences, but we do have control over our thoughts and actions in the present. One of the aims of yoga is to give us greater control over our thoughts and actions - through greater awareness.

That's a brief over-simplification. Karma is a profound and beautiful concept. Unlike Christianity, it offers not the promise of 'heaven' if we live a 'good life', but the possibility of growth, renewal and redemption as we go on learning our lessons through lifetimes.

Thanks, Carole, for another lovely post, full of understanding and appreciation. I hadn't meant to go into reincarnation - but it happened, I guess because I seemed to think you might be interested.

Re: Yoga and Religion

pala on 9/04/02 at 14:29 (094455)

many years ago i took a yoga course. the teacher had a nice way of viewing this. he said that in yoga we take the pose of the highest sage and the lowest bug and everything inbetween. doing this eventually encourages us to attain a certain compassion or identification with all living beings. he taught us for free by the way and as far as i could tell had no hidden agenda . he never discussed his beliefs beyond this. . i was too young to appreciate him back then. i do now in retrospect.

Re: A much cheaper option

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/04/02 at 15:00 (094461)

The lifts off a stability ball would be a similar exercise except that the ball would support more of the lower abdomen, thus reducing some of the distraction that the freer hanging from the Roman chair achieves.
Ed

Re: Has the "Relax the Back" franchise hit the East coast yet?

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/04/02 at 15:04 (094462)

The 'Relax the Back' stores have a couple different versions of the chair with one version allowing the platform that supports the hips to rock forward, allowing even more distraction of the lower vertebrae. They have quite a few manuals/books.
Ed

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

john h on 8/29/02 at 14:34 (093893)

Elliott: 18 years I had surgery on the low back (L5-S1) (L4-L5). I have always been under the impression that part of the disc on the left side was removed and that the opening where the nerve exits was widened. I recetnly had an MRI and the surgeon who read it as I watched said that my disc were basically fully intact so if any was removed it was not showing on the MRI. I had the Doctors from the Bonati Institute in Florida read it. They make no charge for this if you want to mail them your MRI. You can find them at http://www.bonati.com

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

dave r on 8/29/02 at 14:45 (093894)

If you buy that thing that hangs from the ceiling please post a picture of you in it. :)

Re: MRIs

elliott on 8/29/02 at 15:57 (093896)

I don't think there's anything more to evaluate from the MRI. The first was read a long while back by a neurosurgeon who is Chief of this and Chief of that (the only thing missing is a wigwam), who showed me himself what he saw, as well as the back guy who did my scope-guided epidural. Had a second MRI not too long ago, this time with that dye stuff, and it was read by one of the best radiologists in my state with much lumbar spine experience, who showed me that the disc is shrinking. I think I'm past the worst, wanna get through this without surgery. While there are plenty of success stories, there are also plenty of horror stories, such as one's back collapsing on itself as more and more discs need to be removed over the years.

No tips on the 'wacky' treatments?

----

Re: until then...

elliott on 8/29/02 at 16:09 (093897)

check out the person in the on-line ad:

http://www.yogaprops.net/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=yp&Category_Code=3_sling

I still have a lot of things to work out about this. Given limitations such as smaller bedrooms with ceiling fans, the ideal place for it to hang is in the foyer, located right through the front door and looking directly into the living room and kitchen. This sounds great to me, but then I'll have to go through a messy divorce and end up not getting to stay in the house anyway. As the country music song says,

I couldn't believe what the judge had to tell us,
I get the jeep and she gets the palace,
I'm goin' thru the big 'D' I don't mean Dallas

Maybe it'll fit downstairs somewhere...

----

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

Julie on 8/29/02 at 16:34 (093898)

Elliott

If you decide to go to the osteopath, he may have an inversion machine (not the sling in the ad, but a more substantial contraption that you go upside down on). It's a bit like being on the rack, and it really is good for stretching the spine and relieving nerve compression.

If you're getting interested in reading about yoga, you might like to have a look at Yoga International. I like Yoga Journal, but I like YI better: it has some excellent contributors, including Donna Farhi, who used to write for YJ, and whose regular articles on asana are splendid; also Sandra Anderson, and Rolf Sovik.

They give a web address of yimag.org. I haven't checked it out (there must be a http://www . in there somewhere, maybe even an http//) . Postal address RR1 Bix 1130, Honesdale, PA 18431-9718.

Re: Box - not 'Bix'

Julie on 8/29/02 at 16:35 (093899)

.

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

BrianG on 8/29/02 at 17:28 (093902)

Hi Elliott,

I think I'd check out the Osteopath a little closer, before using him. In my state, they take insurance just like doctors, dentists, Pods, etc. Maybe this guy's card has been pulled, or something else just as weird.

Keep at it
BrianG

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

DJ on 8/29/02 at 18:04 (093908)

I went through prolotherapy with an osteopath. Although this didn't work for me, I think it could work for others. In my view, osteopaths simply keep an open mind to alternative and newer methods of healing. The mistake I made was not giving up on it soon enough. I ended up spending a lot of money that I could of blown on other failed treatment methods. I was covered partly by insurance, after meeting a deductable.

Re: thanks

elliott on 8/29/02 at 20:59 (093923)

YI is the first link that pops up when I type 'yoga international' into hotbot.com. Seems like it's a bit on the erotic side as well as teacher-oriented. Let me take in YJ for a bit and I'll see. Appreciate it.

I've read and asked about the inversion machine too, and gave that some thought (it's probably more economical and convenient to buy one than have to go to the osteo every time you want to use one), but I decided I'd rather waste $85 on something that doesn't work than $300 on something that doesn't work. :-) I am basing this on a sample of one, john h, I think it was, who posted a long while back that he hung in that thing for months and it didn't do anything. The sling might in theory be superior in that, in addition to its value as a yoga prop, you stretch your leg muscles at the same time you're doing traction, although it's probably less comfortable than an inversion table the longer you hang around.

---

Re: LOL! now *that* is funny! (nm)

elliott on 8/29/02 at 21:00 (093925)

.

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

john h on 8/30/02 at 10:32 (093978)

I had an Inversion Machine. Wasted money!

Re: thanks

john h on 8/30/02 at 14:37 (093994)

Hey Elliott: my inversion machine did not cost any $300 as it was closer to $600, That was 12 or more years ago. I had it for my back. With PF and the big inversion boots that come with it I do not thing it would be very good for PF. Mine was stainless steel and it took a day to finally get into the rythum of going upside down and hanging like a bat. You used your body weight as you tilted back and forth to finally reached the inverted position. Mine was in the garage where all the people walking and running by could observe the idiot hanging upside down in his garage.

Re: To John h

Pauline on 8/30/02 at 15:04 (093996)

John,
Just wondering why you haven't tried an additional ESWT treatment using the Dornier for your remaining P.F.? I'm wondering if you could achieve a total cure with that additional treatment.

Re: inversion table prices

elliott on 8/30/02 at 15:12 (093997)

Maybe they've come down since your day. Or maybe you had the super-deluxe version that doesn't work. :-) Anyway, below is a smattering of prices, most between $200 and $400. Only one was way up there.

http://www.healthyback.com/store/relaxing/inversiontable.htm

http://www.inversiontherapy.com/products/f5000.html

http://www.inversiontherapy.com/products/f9000.html

http://www.inversiontherapy.com/products/power.html

http://www.cheapfitness.com/inver_table.htm

http://www.vitalityweb.com/backstore/inversion.htm

http://momentum98.com/overeasy.html

http://www.fitness-equipment.com/Inversion_Table_Chair.htm

http://www.hangups4less.com/order.htm

http://www.wonderfulbuys.com/sports_and_fitness/healmarintab.html

--------------

Re: To John h

john h on 8/30/02 at 18:20 (094008)

Pauline: Future ESWT with one of the newer machines is high on my to do list. AS you know all my treatments were with the Orby and I do believe they helped. I just have to figure out the timing as I still work and all this involves travel and MONEY as you know. Several week ago I brought on a setback with my climbing a ladder and messing around aon my 30 degree pitched roof. I then brillantly walked about three miles in sandals. I am real smart these days.

Re: Prolotherapy, save your $$$

BrianG on 8/30/02 at 21:07 (094032)

Hi DJ,

There have been a few people here, myself included, that tried Prolotherapy for PF. Forget it, I've never heard of it helping anyone with PF. I have heard that it helps other ailments, like tendon / shoulder injuries.

Good luck
BrianG

Re: osteopath, rolfing, Thai massage, inversion sling, etc., etc.: is it all a crapshoot?

F.H. on 9/01/02 at 20:25 (094167)

Are you sure you don't have a bacterial infection causing your sciatica?

Re: A much cheaper option

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/02/02 at 10:10 (094205)

One concept behind inversion therapy is the ability to distract vertebrae (intervertebral traction). As the vertebrae are pulled upart the intervertebral discs get 'sucked in.'

There is a contraversial therapy known as VAX-D which basically looks like a modern version of the medieval torture rack. 'VAX-D' basically stands for 'vertebral axial decompression.' The machine basically pulls on the discs in a rhythmic fashion with a pretdetermined amount of force. The benefit comes from the distraction of the disc which pulls in the disc and presumably the pumping action pulls fluid/nutrition into the disc. A number of centers were set up a few years ago and i have since lost track-- may do a search on the net.

And now... for my version........
I really like Roman chairs. There are a number of versions with inexpensive versions starting at about $150 (which is what I have at home).
They basically allow one to do a 'reverse' sit up starting with one hanging the upper body upside down over the edge of the pad. Basically one is contracting the low back muscles while simultaneously distracting the lower discs -- L4,L5,S1, which are usually the problems ones. You thus achieve rhythmic disc distraction, increase blood flow to the area and strenghten the paraspinal muscles which support the area.

And now...the deluxe version.....
When in a health club, push the Roman chair up to a cable pull machine. Assemble the cable pull as if you were going to do a standing curl. Start the exercise above which is the reverse sit up but grasp the cables with both hands. The Roman chair should be several feet away from the cable pull so that as you are lifting your body, you are not only getting resistance from the cable but the cable is essentially pulling/distracting your lower body (something that may take a bit of practice and visualization--- start with very light weight).

Disclaimer-- I am a foot specialist so don't consider this to be a professional recommendation.

Ed

Re: PS I really think this works

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/02/02 at 10:16 (094206)

I am sitting, leaning forward as I work all day. Low backs really get sore in the podiatry field so I can personally, as opposed to professionally, vouch for the exercises I have recommended. A lot will depend on the severity of the disc problem -- one with a ruptured disc definitely should seek professional help before starting any such exercise program.
Ed

Re: PS I really think this works

john h on 9/02/02 at 11:40 (094223)

There is at least one exercise Dr. Ed that is reported in some cases to help a protruding disc pull back into it's proper space. This comes from the Texas Back Institute which is a world renouuned institute in the treatment of back problems. The founder of the institute Dr. Steven Hochschuler published a book 'Back In Shape' which is one of the best books I have read (illustrated). The book is soft cover and relatively inexpensive. It was on Amazon or could be ordered from the web site which I think is http://www.texasback.com or their toll free Back Pain Hotline 1-800-247-BACK. I have seen Doctors from this Institute several times on The Today Show.

Dr. Hochschuler notes that 50% of all back surgeries are not necessary.

Re: PS I really think this works / For Julie

john h on 9/02/02 at 11:52 (094224)

In looking over the Texas Back Institute web site (www.texasback.com) they do say that Yoga is one of the best of all exercises for back problems and you can basically advance as far as you want. Currently they are the only Institute in the U.S. who the FDA will allow to place an artifical disc in the L5/S1 or L4/L5 area.

Re: To John h

Carole C in NOLA on 9/02/02 at 13:43 (094243)

John, I know that like me you are over 50, but I didn't know that (like me) you still work. It is hard to spend vacation time on ESWT. As for money, well, I suppose it would just mean that you'd have to work a few months longer before retiring. That wouldn't appeal to me either. I'm ready to retire tomorrow if I had the money to do so.

Sorry to hear about your setback! Don't be so hard on yourself. You've had PF for 7-8 years or so, and it's completely understandable that you can't spend your whole life not walking much and not climbing on your roof.

I hope your new Mephistos didn't play a part in it. Until now I thought you were doing better than me, but I tend to recover from 'over-walking' faster than that. Of course, I am the Queen of Rest so maybe that has something to do with it. Don't forget what you taught me, which is to ICE for a long time when you are hurting.

Carole C

Re: John

Julie on 9/02/02 at 16:48 (094273)

Thanks, John. I'm glad they feel that, and I'm inclined to agree, but have to add the proviso that there are different 'styles' of yoga. Some are more helpful for people with back problems than others, and some could be disastrous. There are also teachers and teachers, and with yoga undergoing a spell of fashionability at present, there are lots of poorly qualified ones around.

And don't believe anyone who tells you that you can't hurt yourself (or your back) doing yoga. You can.

Re: To John h

john h on 9/02/02 at 17:01 (094275)

Carole: As a young man you always dream of retiring. When the time comes and you can retire it is not what you expect (in my case). I retired about 8 or 9 years ago and after about three months had fixed every thing there was to fix at home and had become completely bored. Fortunately my company called me and asked me to come back. I have no plans for retirement and will work until I cannot work. Not because of money but because that is what I do.

Re: retirement

Carole C in NOLA on 9/02/02 at 17:58 (094283)

Every morning when the alarm clock rings at 5:30, I am motivated to retire.

Last year Bobbie asked me what I would do if I retired. It never occurred to me to think about it, until then. I started a list of things I would do. My brother, who has been retired for a year or two, started a list of his own. When we think of something new, we e-mail the other one because a lot of the things we want to do are the same.

I currently have 21 things on my list (only one of which was 'puttering around the house'). When I sent my list to Bobbie, he could only come up with three or four of his own. He is not sure if he wants to retire or not, although he's four years older than me and is being offered lots of incentives to retire.

Although I may find out when I retire that it is not at all what I expect, I'm pretty sure I will like it. I am VERY ready for it. Only 2625 days until I can first qualify for a reduced retirement. If I maintain the same standard of living and put the excess into the house, it will be paid off by that time.

Carole C

Re: yoga

elliott on 9/02/02 at 22:12 (094313)

Julie, I agree with everything you say (I must be mellowing :-)). John, a year and a half of yoga didn't cure my back problems either. Sometimes I get the feeling that if I could just take some difficult pose all the way that I would be cured. But that could be years away, and I might hurt myself trying too. You soon find out that yoga is something that involves a lifetime of progression. It seems to me that its main value is in coping, not curing specific ailments. Yeah, maybe it'll cure what I'll call 'wimpy' sciatica, i.e. coming from imbalance or a tight muscle such as piriformis, but when it's coming from a disc, well, maybe not. The neuro I saw, who himself is from the Far East and practices yoga, said it won't cure the problem, but he does recommend it to his patients post-surgery. I think yoga also has preventative powers; many who take it due to various injuries feel they never would have got it in the first place had they regularly practiced it, but then again, they would've never thought to take it until after the injury.

---

Re: retirement

Julie on 9/03/02 at 03:19 (094317)

Carole, I am sure you will love retirement! It sounds as though you can't wait. It also sounds like the perfect combination: you have a job you love and that challenges you and is often exciting, and you have 21 plans for what you're going to do when those 2625 days are over. Wonderful.

I took 'early retirement' at 55 from a long working life in publishing, so that I could pay more attention to my new life, which as you know is teaching yoga and writing. That was 12 years ago. I'm still feeling liberated. It's good to be doing what feels like my real life's work, while still having plenty of time to do other things. And potter (putter).

For example. It's 9.30 am. I've spent the last hour doing some 'admin', and when I've disentangled myself from my keyboard, I am going swimming, then food shopping. Then we'll have lunch. At 4.30 I shall drive into town to teach my Tuesday evening class.

Hmmm . When I woke up I thought I had a busy day ahead of me. Having written that down, it sounds like fun! That's my retirement for you.

Re: retirement

Carole C in NOLA on 9/03/02 at 07:56 (094325)

It does sound like fun! When I retire, I'd love to write a book. It doesn't matter to me if it is actually published or not... I just want to see what it is like to write something that long. I was delighted to find out that writing a book is on my brother's list of retirement plans, too. He wants to write a novel, and I'd prefer to write non-fiction. We promised each other that we'd read the other's book, so I will have an 'audience' of at least one. The reason I'm saving the experience of writing a book for retirement, is that for continuity I'd like to devote at least several hours per day to it until it is done.

And then there are the 20 other plans that I have, many of which are less ambitious and probably even more fun... :) I'm sure that I'll never be bored!

Your retirement sounds delightful. I do think I will enjoy mine when I can retire. Right now it looks like that will be at least 2624 days from now.

Carole C

Re: yoga

Julie on 9/03/02 at 09:31 (094337)

Elliott

Yes: I don't think yoga 'cures' anything (though there have been very good results with ailments such as asthma) and I would always caution anyone with back problems, especially disc-originating, to choose a class and a teacher carefully, and to be very careful about what they do in their practice. It sounds as though you've been fortunate with yours.

But. well practised, yoga can help with most things. You're absolutely right about yoga's preventive powers, and about coping. Good practice will strengthen muscles, including those that support the back, as well as increase overall flexibility. And practising yoga builds the inner strength, the stability and stamina and trust, that help one to cope with whatever happens in life.

No, yoga is no 'cure', but it is healing: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

It sounds to me as though you ARE mellowing, and I think yoga may be behind it. Yoga does change you!

:)) Julie

I meant to say the other day that there's nothing erotic about the approach of Yoga International. You probably saw the heading on the current cover, which flags a fascinating article about the erotic sculpture on the temples at Khajuraho. It's not teacher-oriented, either - the practical articles are certainly useful for teachers (I find them so) but very much geared to students.

Re: yoga

JudyS on 9/03/02 at 09:44 (094340)

Elliott, I think you hit on a key ingredient here - prevention. I'm not experienced in yoga although I do have a daily stretching routine that incorporates a handful of modified yoga postures. But more importantly for me, I think my strengthening program is a serious prevention tool. As I progress with it, I continually feel the muscles in my lower legs take the work off the muscles/tendons in my feet. It's a great feeling. And I now understand why docs and PT's always want a PF sufferer to get into strenghtening with the rubber band or other exercises. Having said that, I think that what the docs don't understand is that strengthening work on isolated foot muscles while in the height of chronic PF seems to make things worse. I think it's better to target the entire leg instead and that it's got to be a little at a time.

Re: A much cheaper option

elliott on 9/03/02 at 09:51 (094341)

Wouldn't something like lifts off a stability ball as well as lying in an inverted position over it do the same thing? And for something more aggressive, there are always yoga poses such as Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward-Facing Bow Pose), where you form a high inverted arched bridge with your body, with only hands and feet touching the ground.

For some reason, I have no limitations at all on my back movements. I wish there were a clear plan, e.g. do x number of reps of this and that exercise daily, and then expect to be cured or much better in y days. There's no such advice out there. There is still dispute in the medical profession as to whether any exercise other than swimming and walking is good altogether.

----

Re: yoga

elliott on 9/03/02 at 10:47 (094344)

Regarding Yoga Int., if you type 'yoga international' into hotbot.com, the first link title that pops out claims that it's geared towards teachers, so that's where I got that impression. Do you think I'd prefer YI? I'm pretty happy with YJ; lot's to read, great photography. There are some things that don't interest me, such as all the articles and ads about going out to yoga reserves; I never realized how 'in' all of that is, but for me it will never happen. More importantly--and Julie, if you'd like to comment on this--my religion is not exactly in sinc with the historical roots and traditions of yoga. They constantly connect a pose to its religious origins and stress that this is what you should be thinking about when doing it, especially the elevation of animals and inanimate onjects to virtual equals of humans. I must admit to sort of feeling like the animal a pose is named after while I'm doing it (e.g. swan pose), but I don't share the religious philosophy of elevating the animal to human stature (a Buddhist concept to be sure). The Gita? Well, my wife's named Gitta! That's about as far as it goes. What I'm trying to say is, I respect the origins of yoga, but I'm not trying to strive towards some ultimate yogi monk level. It's hard for me to imagine life without yoga now, but I'd like to use it just for its coping and fitness effects without mixing in the other things. I hope that's OK and there's no conflict with that.

---

Re: yoga

Carole C in NOLA on 9/03/02 at 12:12 (094350)

Elliott,

I don't know much about yoga, but I know that you don't have to be Buddhist to practice yoga. It's one of those things that grew out of and beyond a religion, just like beautiful stained glass originated in churches but grew beyond its religious origin.

Some of the best of man's endeavors and creative energies have been inspired by religion and have then continued beyond their roots later on.

Carole C

Re: yoga

Julie on 9/03/02 at 16:56 (094378)

There's no conflict, Elliott. Yoga is for everyone, and different people come to it for different reasons and with different needs. Most people find they get more than they came for. You yourself have moved well beyond your original reasons for starting. I'm glad you can't imagine life without it. You may in time find yourself more attuned to its spiritual roots, but right now you should just carry on enjoying it, take what you need from it and what it gives you, and don't worry about the rest. I'm sure it will continue to give you what you're looking for.

Yoga isn't a religion. Its roots are in Hinduism, but many believe it is older than Hinduism. Although in India there is an unbroken tradition of yoga, in fact it's universal, and has been practised everywhere in one form or another: American Indian spirituality, for example (particularly the Hopi tradition which is uncannily close to it) has much in common with it. Some people who are religious find that yoga brings them closer to their religion, and that it deepens their experience of it, their worship and their relation to God. This is why I said earlier that yoga is healing. Atheists practise yoga too, but many move towards God through their yoga practice.

There's no conflict. It's a broad church (bad choice of word, but you know what I mean).

The postures that are named for animals are thought to have originated from the early yogis' observation of animals in the forests: they saw that animals knew how to keep themselves healthy, watched what they did, and developed the postures from their observations. Some of the most wonderful of the classical poses have come from this: i.e. Bhujangasana (Cobra). I've not come across teachers who insist on the 'elevation of animals to human status'. Perhaps that's your teacher's feeling and belief? Could you accept that that's his feeling - presumably it stems from his reverence for all life, which underlies other religions besides Buddhism - without necessarily agreeing? It can undermine or dilute one's experience if one has a mental conflict going on. As long as your instructor's instructions are precise and helpful, and you enjoy doing the postures - be happy!

I don't know if you'd enjoy Yoga International more than Yoga Journal - I just thought you might enjoy it, as you're getting interested in reading. I take several yoga magazines and enjoy them all.

Re: yoga

Julie on 9/03/02 at 16:58 (094379)

Carole, that's a brilliant observation. Thanks for this lovely post.

Re: Yoga and Religion

wendyn on 9/03/02 at 20:11 (094393)

Julie, I first started doing yoga for flexibility. Along the way I came to realize how beneficial it is for things like relaxation and focus. It certainly has helped me improve many aspects of my life.

My teacher does not bring up many of the more 'spiritual' aspects in class, but she sometimes shares tidbits from her own experience and what's happening in her life. Some if it is pretty far off from what I belive, but I don't have any problem just doing the 'smile and nod'. I take what I want, and I leave the rest. No big deal.

We have people in our class from a number of religions, and I think that it works out just fine. If one wants to pursue the more spiritual aspects of yoga, there are other classes for that.

Elliott, maybe that's where you've ended up in a more 'spiritual' class? Maybe you could find a class that's more Yoga for Mainstream, With No Heavy Religious Overtones?

Re: Yoga and Religion

elliott on 9/03/02 at 21:04 (094397)

No, not the class, the magazine. It takes a derogatory attitude towards American stripped-down yoga--doing it just for the beautiful body and all that. I understand what they're saying. But when I do Cobra, I really don't want to be a snake. When I do Tree pose, I don't want to be a tree. The magazine makes it sound like one should.

----

Re: Yoga and Religion

wendyn on 9/03/02 at 21:11 (094399)

Oh - sorry, I read the message too fast.

There are some days when I feel like a snake. Or a slug. But it's never a good thing.

Re: Yoga and Religion

Carole C in NOLA on 9/04/02 at 11:16 (094437)

I'd be willing to bet that nobody reading that magazine has ever actually become a snake or a tree during their present lifetime. Reincarnation as a different life form is not part of my belief system, but I suppose if they want to believe they will be reincarnated as a tree they can believe that.

On the other hand, we human beings are capable of seeing aspects of other humans or creatures that we might admire. There are times when I'd like to be more calm and steady like a tree, even though I'd never want to BE a tree (ick!). I can see how something like yoga might be helpful in that respect.

From what I've heard about yoga (and bear in mind that I really know nothing at all about it), yoga has a mental as well as a physical part. I can see why they would be derogatory about people that just dropped the mental part and went for the beautiful body. Does the mental part imply that you have to believe in reincarnation? I suspect they are full of baloney if they are saying that. From what I've heard, the mental part has to do with things like meditation, centering, and finding inner peace. I think these are beautiful goals for anyone, and I don't think they require any one particular religion or any religion at all.

Carole C

Re: Yoga and Religion

Julie on 9/04/02 at 13:32 (094447)

Carole, you know more about yoga than you think. This is precisely the point, and it's lovely that you've seen it without having had any experience of yoga.

When you practise the Tree pose, awareness of the qualities of the Tree - the calmness and steadiness you mention, and its groundedness, deep-rootedness, protectiveness - may help you to develop those qualities within yourself. So you're not just 'doing an exercise' for its possible physical benefits.

Practising the Cobra, you don't, of course, 'become' a snake, but over time you might develop the steady focus, the concentration, of the Cobra, when it fixes its gaze on its prey before it strikes. So it's not just a 'backbend'. There is a pose called the Warrior, which is truly strengthening in every way: physically, certainly, but also mentally and emotionally.

All yoga postures can be approached in this way,and if they are practised with this awareness, they are centering and meditative in themselves. And they lead naturally on to meditation and inner peace, which, as you rightly say, are all part of yoga.

Reincarnation is certainly at the core of Hindu and yogic philosophy, and is accepted by many people who practise yoga. It doesn't mean 'becoming' a slug, or snake a saint. What it really means is that the death of the body is not the end, that the soul, or spirit, or energy, however one likes to think of it, that has been the essence of a person, migrates after the body has been shed, and continues, eventually, in another body. It isn't lost: the learning that has accumulated during a lifetime of experience, joy and suffering isn't wasted.

Reincarnation is an integral part of the concept of karma, which isn't 'fatalism', but the law of cause and effect. With every thought, every action, we are constantly creating karma. We can't change the karma that we've created in the past, and we have to accept its consequences, but we do have control over our thoughts and actions in the present. One of the aims of yoga is to give us greater control over our thoughts and actions - through greater awareness.

That's a brief over-simplification. Karma is a profound and beautiful concept. Unlike Christianity, it offers not the promise of 'heaven' if we live a 'good life', but the possibility of growth, renewal and redemption as we go on learning our lessons through lifetimes.

Thanks, Carole, for another lovely post, full of understanding and appreciation. I hadn't meant to go into reincarnation - but it happened, I guess because I seemed to think you might be interested.

Re: Yoga and Religion

pala on 9/04/02 at 14:29 (094455)

many years ago i took a yoga course. the teacher had a nice way of viewing this. he said that in yoga we take the pose of the highest sage and the lowest bug and everything inbetween. doing this eventually encourages us to attain a certain compassion or identification with all living beings. he taught us for free by the way and as far as i could tell had no hidden agenda . he never discussed his beliefs beyond this. . i was too young to appreciate him back then. i do now in retrospect.

Re: A much cheaper option

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/04/02 at 15:00 (094461)

The lifts off a stability ball would be a similar exercise except that the ball would support more of the lower abdomen, thus reducing some of the distraction that the freer hanging from the Roman chair achieves.
Ed

Re: Has the "Relax the Back" franchise hit the East coast yet?

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/04/02 at 15:04 (094462)

The 'Relax the Back' stores have a couple different versions of the chair with one version allowing the platform that supports the hips to rock forward, allowing even more distraction of the lower vertebrae. They have quite a few manuals/books.
Ed