A friend in our Strala Guidebook on Facebook asked about lower back pain in reverse warrior, alongside of some challenges with her lower back in the rest of life. I’ll share a few thoughts on this one below, that have to do with some good practices like position, whole-body effort, unweighting, and of course, being wiggleable.
If something is hurting you, don’t do it. There’s always a better way. You just need to find it.
Lower back issues are very rarely limited to just one move, pose, or event. Very few things in life hurt, heal, or prosper in isolation. It’s everything that matters. How you get around, walk, stand, sit, run, pick things up, open doors, climb stairs, everything, all day long. So yoga can be a good place to notice what’s going on, and maybe make some better habits for all these things that matter.
Now for something more specific to yoga. Your lower back never needs to hurt in reverse warriors. If it is, there’s something going on here that’s not your body moving as one whole body from center – something that probably looks more like isolated strength than connected movement.
When you’re moving really well, reverse warrior is a side opener, and an unweighting practice for your legs. It’s not a crunching and holding for your lower back. So if you have pain here, there’s an issue with your position and movement, that’s making it more like a back bend. This definitely isn’t what you want. A back bend here creates isolated tensing muscles to support an awkward position. This makes it not possible to move from your center, and a cascade of difficulties happen from here. So you have a couple of options, to heal, and turn al this into something better.
1) Do other things. When something hurts, it’s not generally the right time to learn how to move better directly around that hurt. Instead, go to releasing and healing movements for some time.
Lots of every-direction rolling around cat cows, same in planks, same in down dogs, as a way to practice good position, unweighting, moving from your center, and important for healing here: moving easy, everything you’ve got, in every direction you can. Particularly you want this kind movement along your spine, so all those intervertebral muscles have a chance to create balance and proper support for you.
2) Get into the challenge, differently. When your body is feeling good, then you can practice around movements that are more challenging for you. To begin, make the movements smaller and simpler, and forget the endpoints.
Here with warrior 2 challenges, try shortening and widening your stance a bit, to make the position more stable. Subtract your arms from the equation. Let them hang easily by your sides, and don’t try to control them when you move.Now from your center, lean a little back so your weight is more in your back leg. Your body is facing the side, so this will be a side opening, not a back crunch. From here, roll your weight back to center, so your weight is centered between both legs.
You can gradually make this movement a bit bigger, and allow your arms to go along for the ride. So it’s tipping back, weight more in your back leg, then rolling forward into side angle, weight more in your front leg.The whole time, this is a side to side movement, led from your center, allowing your arms to go along for the ride. It’s also practice for unweighting one leg then then the other, so each leg gets to enter into challenge nicely rested rather than depleted. As you gradually make the movements bigger, eventually looking more like a warrior 2 to reverse warrior to side angle, still you’re beginning all this movement from your center, with very little follow-up effort to bring your arms into position.