What is the nature of the back pain? A lot of people have imbalances, such as tight hamstrings and week abs, that can lead to some back pain. That would be different than something like, a disc issue, or spondylolisthesis. My first piece of advice to a student is always to confer with their health practitioner if there is an underlying structural issue, or an injury.
My issue generally would probably be less about the heat per se, than that most varieties of hot yoga are relatively physically demanding. Depending on the nature of the cause of the pain, they may be able to do it, or they may be better served with a more yin practice.
There is also the question of whether the person is a practiced yogi or yogini, which can make a difference. An experienced person often understands how to be mindful to necessary modifications, and knows how to make them.
Sorry not to have a more simple answer.
In general, yes. More specifically, this really depends on the client and situation.
This question is difficult to fully answer without breaking it down more for clairty. For example, by “hot yoga” do you specifically mean the popular Bikram sequence that is often referred to by that name? Are you asking if the temperature is safe? Or are you more generally asking about back pain and yoga?
Regarding the temperature… a great article about heat and yoga can be found here: http://www.acefitness.org/prosourcearticle/3353/ace-sponsored-study-hot-…
The piece basically says that yoga around 90-95 degrees is safe, although Bikram is practiced around 105 degrees and may or may not be (that temperature range was not part of this particular study.)
Heat can help “stiff” clients ease into stretching, but it can take a few weeks to acclimate to increased temperature. A dynamic warm up and working in a room temperature (not air conditioned) space is often enough for most clients.
In terms of the physical poses/sequences for back pain: Many people have reported that yoga helps alleviate low back pain, including the Bikram sequence and other types of Hatha (“exercise”) yoga. However, yoga can certainly injure a client as well. I think good professional practice would be to get medical clearance for a client with LBP before engaging in exercise, and educate the client about “good pain” (stretching muscles) versus “bad pain” (tingling, numbness, stabbing pains) during poses.
I think this answer will also vary with the client’s fitness level. For deconditioned clients with LBP a restorative/”gentle” yoga class is probably a better place to start than a heated, more athletic pose-based class. If by hot yoga you mean Bikram, note that a Bikram class is 90 minutes and quite intense – not great for a deconditioned person’s first yoga experience.
More complex cases would likely benefit from one-on-one attention from a qualified yoga therapist.
Hi Lisa. As with any other injury/condition, the answer to your question depends on the etiology of the low back pain. Lower back pain is such a common condition, with so MANY possible causes, that a single answer to your question (‘yes,” or ‘no’) is not really possible. You should first determine the cause of the lower back pain (through a medical consultation) before deciding whether is safe for the person or persons involved.
I hope that this helps.
The first and foremost thing you should address is what is the pain being caused by. Take the time to get it found out, corrective exercise can do wonders for LBP. From personal and professional experience, if the LBP is caused by a disc issue and you wish to do yoga my advice would be to A: not do Bikram, since you cannot modify or slow it down (thus it would not be “Bikram”) as well as the heat issue addressed by a poster above, and B: seek a one-on-one session from a well-respected teacher who is informed of your specific injury-cause, symptoms, and etiology. After that you will have modifications you can do when the rest of the class you are attending is doing their routine. Where I live there are actual classes designed for students with disc issues and LBP.