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Relief is in the Stretch: End Back Pain Through Yoga [Hardcover]

Loren Fishman , Carol Ardman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

18 Mar 2005
Dr. Loren M. Fishman, a specialist in rehabilitation medicine who has been using yoga in his medical practice for thirty years, studied yoga in India for a year with B. K. S. Iyengar and is an internationally recognized expert in research and clinical treatment of sciatica and low back pain. This book helps you determine how to start your own yoga practice or alter your existing practice, depending on the severity and chronicity of your pain, and on your physical condition. The postures in this guide, each one illustrated by a photograph, target specific sources of pain--from arthritis to spinal stenosis, from pregnancy to sacroiliac joint derangement--and demonstrate how you can manage, reduce, and ultimately end your pain.

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Relief is in the Stretch: End Back Pain Through Yoga + Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (18 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393058336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393058338
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 18.5 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 608,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Many people experience back pain from time to time. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pain reliever 20 April 2009
By S. Hill
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Rather American for me but otherwise excellent. Helped me to ease mis-aligned sacro-ileac joints and piriformis syndrome which is more than a Chiropractor managed!
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
159 of 160 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 7 Mar 2006
By Truth Seeker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a journalist and Iyengar Yoga Teacher who uses yoga for people with back problems, I was excited to see this new book by a physician and someone who claims to have studied with BKS Iyengar. The reality was a disappointment for a number of reasons.

Where to start? His choice of poses, is in my opinion far too challenging for the average person coming to this book - and possibly yoga for the first time - looking for an answer to back pain. The second pose offered for idiopathic (no obvious cause) back pain is Janu Sirsasana, a seated forward bend. He rightly insructs students to keep their back straight and bend from the hip crease. However the vast majority of students will bend at the mid back because of tight hamstrings and lack of body awareness - likely making their back ache worse. This danger will be enhanced because the author does not suggest putting height under the hips, a standard instruction to help students perform seated forward bends correctly. The next pose, Paschimottanasana, another seated forward bend, is even more intense. Here he does suggest holding a strap to help reach the feet for the modified version, but why not in Janu Sirsana? Still no blanket or other height under the hips. He then offers the full version of the same forward bend with one hand grasping the wrist of the other hand around the end of the feet. This is available to about two per cent of the population I would estimate, and would likely exacerbate the back condition of many unsuspecting people opening this book to yoga for the first time and not recognizing their own limitations. While gentle twisting is recommended for back pain by Iyengar, no twisting poses appear in this chapter or many others. He gives a chapter over to weight control and another to pregnancy, but I could find no reference to scoliosis. As there was no index I could possibly be mistaken.

The pictures themselves are poor and underexposed. They have no caption, which means the reader is left to figure out which picture refers to which description.

The beginning of the book gives a lot of space to describing different styles of yoga, including a number, like Ashtanga and Bickram which the author, then says may not be appropriate for people with back pain. However he still offers an address for Ashtanga Yoga among the resources at the end of the book, but no guidance on finding an Iyengar teacher - the style he professes to use, and whose teachers are often highly trained in therapeutic yoga.

The suggested reading includes BKS Iyengar's classic Light on Yoga, which, although brilliant, would be next to useless for most people seeking help with back pain. However, he fails to include Iyengar's other book, Yoga: the Path to Holistic Health, which includes many therapeutic poses and three routines for lower, mid and upper back pain.

I would strongly recommend instead: Back Care Basics: A Doctor's Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief by Mary Pullig Schatz, a book actually endorsed by BKS Iyengar, which introduces us to many very modified and safe poses, and which makes this new volume, in my opinion, largely redundant.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening 11 Jun 2005
By David W. Welles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book, neatly divided into two parts, the first part describing succinctly yoga and back pain and the second part suggesting poses for nine different diagnoses. Having suffered severe crippling leg pains that my general practioner finally diagnosed as relating to my back, I sought relief. Relief in the Stretch opened up a whole new world for me. It suggested Iyengar yoga, a form of yoga that focuses on the accuracy of poses. I started seeing an Iyengar yoga teacher and concurrently reading and rereading this book. I learn that yoga is the right thing for chronic pain. It does indeed "increase flexibility, strengthening muscles and bones, increasing range of motion, sharpening focus, heightening self-awareness, and producing calm." There are numerous helpful medical tidbits, such as when one muscles flexes another muscle relaxes: "every time the biceps contracts . . . its opposite, the triceps . . . must relax." When I tighten my abdominal muscles I relax the muscles in my back, the muscles that are partly the cause of my pain. I learned that a patient has symptoms, i.e. sharp pains in my leg in my case, but that the doctor needs signs to diagnose the cause, i.e. the films from an MRI. Nine different types of back pain are discussed (including Herniated Discs, Arthritis, Sacroliac Joint Derangement, Pirformis Syndrome and Weight Control) with yoga poses for each. Everytime I reread a chapter I discover something new. If you have back problems, this is not just a book to buy, read and shelve in your library. Rather it is also a book that will be a continuing source of information as you work at obtaining long-term relief through yoga.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chatting with the Doc 5 Mar 2005
By Kathryn Rogovy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Imagine that your next door neighbor is not only a fancy-schmancy New York doctor specializing in rehabilitation medicine, but also a yoga expert and the nicest guy in the world, besides. Imagine that he will sit down and chat with you over a few beers (or chai teas), in terms that even you can understand, about that back pain that has been plaguing you. He'd show you pictures of yoga poses you can try, and discuss the advisability and purpose of each. And it wouldn't cost you any more than the price of the beers. Then what you would have is Relief Is in the Stretch, a surprisingly accessible little book in which the language is personal and unintimidating and the medical explanations are presented with elegant simplicity.

While Dr. Fishman is an expert in yoga, he doesn't dabble in ideologies, suggest you hum mantras, nor require you to twist your body into contortionist positions. Rather he discusses the utility of yoga for back pain, gives some straightforward information about the styles of yoga and ways that even a novice might give it a try. His discussions are never condescending, but always informative and respectful. The photographs of yoga poses are so helpful and carefully described that you will want to make this book part of your permanent collection. Herein lies the dilemma. This book is a "keeper" because it is so useful and a "giver" because it is so helpful. I dare you to get through the first sixty pages without thinking of four people who would benefit from reading Relief Is in the Stretch by Loren Fishman, MD and author, Carol Ardman.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Basic 3 May 2005
By LIZ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I thought this book would be good to add to my collection, but found it to be very basic. Good if you are just starting out and suffer from some forms of back pain but not all types,like disc injuries should be very careful with any type of bending at the waist with straight leg movements. I am a fan of yoga over all is very helpful for those trying to reduce the muscle pain but be very carful with any form of twist. Guarded recommendation.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars APPEALING PAIN RELIEF 7 Mar 2005
By E. Puchkoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Can you believe it! An M.D. is recommending yoga to relieve back pain rather than suggesting the latest anti-inflammatory drug. Having tried enough anti-inflammatories myself, and with too many of these drugs being taken off the market for any sane person's peace of mind, I looked for relief somewhere else. Dr. Fishman's approach to relieving back pain is natural and appealing. He is better than a personal trainer when it comes to describing the ways yoga poses can help you feel good. Models are clearly photographed in the book, so the yoga poses are easy to follow. With Relief Is in the Stretch, Dr. Loren Fishman and Carol Ardman are giving us a chance to stand tall, without needing a chair close by.
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