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Yoga Therapy for Back Pain provides a series of gentle, therapeutic yoga practices for back care. Instructor Emily Klingerman's training is consistent with the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya; her approach is similar to another school of yoga descended from that same yoga master, Viniyoga, in that she incorporates dynamic movement within the postures. There are a total of 12 asana practices plus a separate meditation segment on this DVD. The Main Menu of the DVD divides the practices by condition and into routines of varying length as follows:
General Back: 17min—32min—44min
Upper Back: 15 min—30 min
Bulging Disk: 17 min—31 min
Sacro-Iliac Join: 15 min—30 min
Sciatic Pain: 17 min—30 min
Chair Practice: 20 min
Meditation: 10 min
All of the practices are filmed in a featureless white studio; soft music plays in the background. Klingerman teaches via voiceover (she does not mirror-cue), and she is shown practicing alongside fellow yoga therapist Arturo Peal, who displays modifications for some of the postures. Klingerman recommends the following props to use with the DVD: a strap, 2-3 blankets, 2 blocks (optional), and a bolster (can substitute blankets). Each routine is made up of a series of shorter sequences, with many of these segments repeating amongst the various practices (with the exception of the Chair Practice). All of the poses are performed on the floor, in either a reclined, seated, or kneeling position. The majority of the routines begin with a focus on breathing deeply into belly, and all end with an approximately 2 ½ minute relaxation with the knees over a bolster.
The longest practice, the 44-minute General Back, incorporates all of the shorter sequences. Some of the postures used throughout the DVD include seated cross-legged forward bend, cat/cow stretches, cobra variation, bridge pose, lying knee-to-chest, reclined twist, revolved stomach pose, reclined leg stretch, reclined cobbler's pose, and thread the needle. The 20-minute Chair Practice, which features Klingerman alone, offers neck and shoulder stretches very similar to those found in the Upper Back routines, but seated on the chair rather than on the floor. Klingerman concludes the chair routine by using a second chair to perform several seated forward bends. The 10-minute Meditation can be performed in either a seated or a lying position. Here Klingerman offers breath instruction as well as a focus on energy.
The DVD case states that these practices are designed to "increase mobility and reduce pain." Although I don't have pain issues myself, I do think that these gentle routines would be appropriate for those suffering from any kind of back discomfort. I do have chronic neck and shoulder tightness, and I found some of the exercises in both the Upper Back and the Chair Routine sections to be uniquely beneficial for targeting and stretching out this area. Overall, these exercises would be suitable for a wide audience, providing an excellent means for alleviating pain as well as promoting improved flexibility and range of motion.
© 2009 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students