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  • Diane Duane

Motion is Lotion: Back Pain, Hip Pain, and How to Tell What Movements Are Good for You.

Updated: May 30, 2019

So, I’ve had an interesting experience physically lately.

Twice in the last 6 months I’ve strained muscles in my back and hip. Rather than panic and stop moving, I decided to very gently and intentionally explore motion, to see how my body would react.

The first time it was my low back (from packing boxes and pulling up ivy). I got up the next morning to teach a yoga class and told the group I didn’t think I’d be able to move with them, but I’d try. But after gently doing that basic flow class, my back was much better. In a couple of days, I was completely recovered.

I’ve been learning the difference between that stretching sensation—the kind that dissipates as you move (like example above)—versus the kind of sharp pain that worsens.

A couple of weeks after my 1/2 marathon, I was running on the treadmill. After about 3 miles, my hip began hurting, and in one stride, I felt a shooting intense pain.

So, I stopped.  

I suspected bursitis in my hip joint. A couple of days later (and after a 4-hour car ride, then a 10-mile hike), my whole right hip was really sore. So, I got on my yoga mat and began trying poses.

Several felt ok, so I tried a pose that I knew would be painful if I did, in fact, have bursitis. This started off okay, but as I went deeper, that shooting pain came back. I knew to stop that motion immediately and not do anything like it for awhile.  

Over the last few days, I’ve kept up the poses that don’t cause the intense pain. And I always feel better after the practice. I’m going to wait about a month to try eagle pose again (and to try running again) because the bursitis was likely caused from overuse.

The message is this: Unless there is a really intense pain that gets worse with stretching, Motion is Lotion. Don’t panic…Keep moving gently in ways that do not cause pain.

In my teaching experience, I’ve encountered a lot of people who suffer hip pain. “The hips are the human body’s main engine and center of mass.” This great article from Outside magazine explains where hip pain comes from and how to treat it.

Your hips and back are especially at risk if you spend most of your days at a desk. If you do spend a lot of time sitting, don’t discount the little bit of ‘motion lotion’ at your disposal. Like the simple spinal movement yoga you can do from your chair.

I made this video for Brandon Smith of @theworkplacetherapist. It’ll get you started with some simple and effective ‘workplace’ poses.

Right now, I’m actually finishing up another personal yoga video for Brandon. Which reminds me! I should tell you: I offer personalized yoga packages, which include 2 in-person sessions + 1 personal video.

If you’re experiencing specific pains, and you’re unsure of what movements are safe and helpful for your body, reach out!

The more you practice listening to your body, the better you’ll become at discerning pain—and knowing how to care for yourself. You’re not alone! I’m on this journey, too. And I’m grateful for how accessible and adaptable a tool yoga is. It’s helped me through all kinds of pain, and I'm hopeful it will help you, too.