Recently, my husband and I were chatting about his yoga practice. Due to some injuries, he had been modifying his sun salutations. Now that things were feeling better, he wasn’t sure how to incorporate some of the movements back in that had previously been causing discomfort. I offered to look at some things and see if there were any suggestions that might make things more comfortable as he regained strength and mobility (a surprisingly rare occurrence. When he has asked for advice in the past, the poor guy has been told to make an appointment). This led to questions about a recent pigeon variation I was doing and how that could be incorporated as well.
The modifications I offered (a longer stance for updog with an emphasis on maintaining anterior core stability and a strength based pigeon), changed his morning practice. He tells me those two postures, which he used to dread, have morphed into new favorites. If it hurts to do something, the obvious solution is to not do it; however, sometimes there are ways to alter the something so it no longer causes pain. If you tend to be very strong and more braced, it might be beneficial to find a little more movement through breath or gentle mobility work, or slow a movement down to find the sticking point. If you have a lot of movement bending one way, it might mean finding a sense of balance and strength on the other side of the joint. Pain often indicates the balance between the strength and mobility continuum is tipped too far to one side. This can be caused by a number of underlying issues, and should always be looked at by a healthcare professional. In the meantime, if there is pain during one of your favorite activities, don’t feel like it “needs” to be done a certain way. Play with alignment and activation patterns, and see if you can find the place that feels strong, but with a sense of ease. Move well, be well.