Can you tell me which yoga poses are contraindicated for a herniation between c6 and c7?
My cervical herniation has been confirmed by MRI. Lots of information out there regarding which poses are helpful, but I have been suffering pain and numbness for about 6 months and would like to know if any of the poses I am practicing are harmful.
I would however, like to give you some general pointers.
Please consider getting one of Gary Kraftsow's books. My feeling is that he is one of the really great practitioners of yoga therapeutics today.
You might also consider getting Judith Lasater's book 'Yogabody'. She is a physical therapist as well as a very senior yoga teacher. This book really breaks down the poses in relationship to specifically what is going on in the body as you do them.
It is kind of like the difference between getting a recipe off the internet, and reading 'Cooks Illustrated'. In 'Cooks Illustrated' they explain what they are doing and why, rather than just tell you what to do. As a teacher I feel I do my best work when my students are empowered to understand and work from within their own bodies.
I would also encourage you to see your physical therapist and/or medical practitioner to get guidelines for specific movements to avoid. I think that is a better guide than telling you to avoid a specific asana, because how an asana is done, and where the focus goes can make huge differences on what you get out of it. For example if I do bhujangasana (cobra) I can emphasize the thoracic spine, or move lower into the hips.
Backbends are sometimes contraindicated, but to avoid them completely, unless it is medically called in your case makes it hard to balance the overall system. Your medical practitioner will probably talk to you about appropriate and inappropriate movements of the neck, and you will need to determine if you should avoid any back bending, or if you are experienced enough to bend in such a way that you avoid stressing the place with the herniation. But I would abide first and foremost by the medical person: if they feel a type of pose is preferable to avoid it is so much better to avoid it and not to exacerbate your injury.
The other general thing I would suggest is once your medical guide okays you that you find a teacher to work with who is experienced in yoga therapeutics especially to help you with jalandra bandha (the neck lock). But please follow that order.... ok with medical guide, and taught by someone experienced.
I know it is not as black and white as you probably wanted, but most things aren't.
Good luck with your healing