One-on-One Yoga Stories - Unpredictable Back Pain Flare-Ups

Emma has a mild case of spinal stenosis, a narrowing of spinal canal which causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerve root. Her back pain became unpredictable, flaring up at random.

Sometimes, she would wake up in the morning, even after a particularly sound sleep, with excruciating pain and unable to get out of bed. Imagine the cruelty of amazing sleep causing you pain for days. Perhaps you don’t have to imagine.

Other times, she would twist to grab a snack from the backseat for her husband driving to their ski chalet, only to feel a sharp pain that lasted the rest of the car ride and most of their holiday at the chalet. Another long weekend ruined.


Emma worked with a physiotherapist who gave her movement homework (remedial exercises) and told her which movement she should avoid in her daily life. When Emma and I started personalized one-on-one yoga sessions, she was pleasantly surprised to see that many of the movements I was guiding her through were not only accessible, but had a striking resemblance to the movements her physiotherapist had prescribed. Her yoga practice became a pleasant way to move her body safely, and complement the work of her health care practitioners.

After a few months, Emma noticed that she hadn’t had a flare-up since we started working together. After a few more months, she felt strong and confident enough to try cross country skiing again, a sport she loved but had to give up from fear pain. Although our work together greatly alleviated most of Emma’s pain and allowed her to resume some of the activities she loved, she wasn’t able go the whole year without a flare-up - that frustrating back pain showed up after shovelling one day. However, from our work together, Emma knew exactly what would make her body feel better. She used some of the techniques that we worked on previously, and her flare-up lasted half the time it usually did. Our work together not only directly helped Emma, but also empowered her to be self-reliant and know exactly what to do, giving her the power of self-health and self-wellness.

A yoga practice helped Emma complete her physiotherapy homework, taught her new safe movements, and helped her learn safer ways to move in her daily life to prevent re-injury. Recently, Emma returned from a long holiday in Europe. She practiced her personalized yoga sequence regularly and was happy to report that she was able to explore all the sites, climb all of the stairs, and keep up with her husband, son, and daughter-in-law.  

Do you have back pain? Perhaps you don’t have spinal stenosis, but undiagnosed back pain is the number one complaint for doctor visits in North America. You don’t have to be in pain - I can help.