The year I began training as a back care yoga teacher, I experienced my very first back injury. Painful and priceless, but no coincidence, I’m sure. The Universe has historically provided me with ample lessons in the field of empathy.
In an intermediate Ashtanga class usually taught by a brilliant teacher named Lisa Schrempp, the young substitute for the day rocked me forward in paschimottanasana (featured image above). Sciatica plagued my lower body for five years to follow – and actually still pops up whenever I slack in my asana practice. Going to back care training the next day, I knew I had that rare gift of first hand empathy in my pocket. I struggled to feel grateful for it, but I hope it’s made me a more sensitive teacher as a result.
My back care teacher was Nancy Bower, also a Registered Nurse, and she taught me, in great detail, over the course of several months, all a young teacher should know about starting to hold a safe space for people with back issues. She was patient, thorough, and communicated with a frankness and clarity imperative when training in therapeutics – grey area has its time and place. A back care class is not that place.
What made me think about how grateful I am for having back care classes in my life, was seeing my mentee, Laurel, guide students through an intentional, graceful and healing class all on her own today. She’s been training with me for some time, and today she really did shine. As teachers, we’re always working out kinks, growing, receiving feedback, discovering limitations and spaces for exploration both in ourselves and in our students. Today, I felt one of the spirals in life’s cyclical journey whizz by a curve in my past, bringing me a profound sense of gratitude for the present. It all comes full circle, but it doesn’t stop there.
Back Care continues to present opportunities for me grow as a teacher, and now as a mentor, it’s healed me from injury, and brought sincerely amazing people into my life. Mahalo, Back Care Yoga. Here’s to many more years to come :o)
If you’re interested in yoga for your back, this was my first book on the subject, though there are now many more out there to choose from.
Back care is becoming more and more popular in studios, especially as practitioners enter into more mature years. If you’re in Brooklyn, we offer Back Care at Third Root at 9am on Fridays. See you there!