Often, the most common ache and pain people come to yoga with is in their low back. Low back pain has become about as common as saying one has a headache. Why is the lower back causing so many problems? It is related wholly to the spine, save for the exceptions when there has been a pulled muscle. We have forgotten that the spine runs up the entire back. Overuse of the lumbar spine and hyperextension of it in day to day activities has made our thoracic spine completely useless. The intelligence has been lost in the spine as to how it was meant to be used and we have been working only from half of it. Now granted this is not the case for all low back pain sufferers and we must also recognize that it could also be related to activity or lack thereof in the legs. But generally speaking most people have forgotten the thoracic spine, that area in the upper back. As people start to age they begin to develop what could be called the hunchback or sever kyphosis of the upper back. This is a clear indication that as Guruji would say it has become dull (and he would have likely even used the word stupid).
In forward extensions, more apparent in seated forward extensions, it becomes clear of the intelligence of one's back. Often with beginners to yoga we see that people hunch their back to move their hands towards their feet when doing a forward bend. If looking from a side profile would this make sense to the viewer that to get the best possible extension we were rounding our back instead of expanding it?
When observing the frontal body in doing a forward bend we can see also that if extending with a rounded back the chest is also collapsing. The heart, the lungs etc. are all closed. There is no space, no mobility for the breath to move and organs to easily work.
Now, when performing seated forward extensions with a concave back this works a little better in elongating the torso but again here most people move from the lumbar spine to move. While more space is created this gives no intelligence to the whole spine. Another cause for misuse of the lower back could also be due to the fact that most people carry their tension in the neck and shoulders. This leads to tight shoulders and trapezius making it difficult to get anything moving in that area. It is always so much easier to use the more lucid area of our body and therefore the upper gets completely ignored. The work to loosen it up and actually use our wonderful upper back seems to have been lost! We must begin to use our upper back, firstly by working to open that area and then secondly, to work intelligently to include it, especially in forward extensions. Perhaps then we would have less cases of low back pain/injuries
We have to start working intelligently from the base of the spine all the way up through the back of neck. When you impress the thoracic spine deeper into the body and make the front body to expand what changes is not only physical. The mind also starts to expand and when the mind expands so does the intelligence.