Ultimate Guide To Healing Back Pain

Ever saw an old lady or man walking down the street all hunched down? 

Do you think that just "happens" because of "old age" ?


stop back pain
That is not true.

That happens because of habits... BAD HABITS, kept over a long period of time.

If you hunch every day for 80 years you get that, if you pay attention to the body you don't. 

It is that simple.

When you look at our evolution you will notice that we are a PEAK POINT IN HISTORY when it comes to SITTING DOWN AND STARING AT A SCREEN.

We are constantly sitting, and not exactly keeping good posture.

Then we wonder why our backs hurt?  

Here are 10 Ways To Stop Back Pain


Because as soon as you think "relax the face"something happens automatically in the body... 

You REMEMBER that you have one.

I do these every time I remember, and immediately get to take a deep breath.

Try it and see, it might happen for you too, and as a reflex.  

If it doesn't yet, don't despair, simply add a big deep breath at the end.

And by big deep I mean just a good breath, no need to force anything.  We are talking about letting go of tension.

relax your jaw eyes neck back


Are you respecting the normal curvature of your spine? Are you slouching? Is your neck protruding forward?  If so, accommodate and adjust, because the number one cause of injury to the back is how we sit for long periods of time.

The key to back health is to respect its normal curvatures.

It is that easy.

Respect the cervical, the thoracic, and the lumbar natural curve and you are ahead of the game.  

Lumbar Thoracic and Cervical curves

Just by reading this you are already more likely to NOT suffer from back pain.

Because when you remember to respect the curvatures you are setting the odds in your favor for health.

Think of it this way:

  • Lead with the chest, as you walk and seat, not with the neck...

  • Keep the back as straight as you can within normal life
  • Watch yourself when you are at the computer.

There are great resources to help us remember, for example:

You can get one of these lumbar support pillows

I have one at my desk and I love it because it helps me keep the lower back straighter than I would otherwise.   

It has been recommended by one of the pioneers in alternative back pain treatment (Robin McKenzie - see books below), and...

For the cost of a movie ticket and a snack I am investing in a healthy future back for as long as I live.
The interesting thing about the lower back curve is that as you straighten this area, the other two tend to FOLLOW
Try it and see for yourself.


Driving is a dead trap for the back.

There I said it!

Even after all the ergonomic design advances on my 2013 model I still cannot drive more than three hours without feeling my back hurting.

I see people on the road and I cringe!

Some of them have their chins forward, overcompensating for the back being so slouched back.

Some never adjust the length for their legs and so they are forced to almost round their backs to reach the wheel.

When driving, it all comes down to awareness.

When you drive, be VERY CONSCIOUS of how you are treating your back.

Take usual breaks (every three hours max), and do the exercise I recommend in point four.

Because your back will thank you.


Because we are always sitting the front of the body is usually crunched, and we seldom give it an opportunity to stretch.  

I suggest you do this every hour.

YES, you heard that right... 


Because your back needs to be healthy to support your brain so can become an idea machine!

Here is a SHORT video of the exercise... 

Notice the warning at the 1:33 minute mark

That DID happen to someone I know.  

So do stand up to do the exercise because I care for you.

Stand up, feet hip-with distance, put your hands behind you on the lower back, and stretch back as far as you can. Breathe there.  Then come back on an inhale.


Believe it or not THAT is counter-intuitive...

As you try the exercise you will see...

But when you breathe IN as you come back up you are getting your whole body to collaborate because you are using the power of the inhalation, of oxygen coming into the body to re-align it, after stretching the front.

Stretching the front of the body HOURLY re-sets the back, and reminds us of the curvatures.

We get to respect the spine!


If you have intense pain in the lower back when you wake up, lay down on the floor, face down, and adopt a simple cobra position  [see photo by Thomas Broening, courtesy of this site].

Notice that it is a SIMPLE cobra pose, elbows on the floor.

Then relax the lower back and stay there for a while.

This is the FIRST AID exercise recommended by McKenzie for acute lower back pain repair.

It is the go-to first thing to do if your lower back 'goes'...

You do need to repeat it again and again during the day.

I've personally tried it and it works.  McKenzie has 7 other exercises in his book to do after this, and they all involve a gently curving of the back and a gentle counter-curving of it.

A stretching of the front of the body and then a stretching of the back of a body... Just like we do in good yoga classes.

Remember to BREATHE.

Breathing and good alignment is key to restoring the back to health.


Many of us pay no attention to the breath...  We take it for granted because why not?

Check this out...

Yogis measure their life-span in BREATHS rather than in years.  Who said that? I did, because I noticed... 

I don't have a Harvard research backing me up but just look around...

Do you have a cat or a dog? Did you notice how fast they breathe?  and how long do they live?  not that long....

On the other hand, turtles (of special kinds) that breathe very slow get to live hundreds of years!!!

The back cannot function well if the "THREE PART BREATHING" is not in place.

And the three-part breathing also helps us live longer, so it is a DOUBLE WIN!

I made a podcast (see below) so you can learn this exercise to the sound of a drum.

It is very easy AND EXTREMELY RELAXING so be careful.... You may fall asleep.

Whenever I offer this exercise at workshops people tell me they LOVE IT.

Try it once and you will see how easy it is to become aware of breathing into all parts of your torso.


I know it is not easy finding a good teacher, I am as disillusioned as you are with the amount of b/s and fluff on the internet about people who call themselves yoga teacher when in fact they are just "only more experienced in asana"...

So, finding a good instructor maybe difficult.  It requires instinct, good rapport, and more importantly SEE IF THEY FOCUS ON THE BREATH.

Any instructor worth its weight will make breathing the priority... If there is forcing, of any kind, or abuse of any nature... get out of there!

But if you do find a good instructor that you click with, then you are in luck.

I've been interviewing amazing teachers I find around the world for my yoga podcast, check them out.  

Why a yoga class?

Because a good yoga class un-does the damage we inflict on the body by poor breathing and bad posture


When that Amazon package arrives think twice!

Or, for example, when taking things out of the trunk of your car:

Bend your knees as you lift heavy objects, because that way you leverage the weight within your body as it goes through a powerful exertion
Your back will thank you. 


Don't do that because you will cause the neck to strain and then later you may wonder why it hurts.  Now you know.

If you need to multi-task (I recommend not doing that as the brain simply cannot do it), then put it on speakerphone.

When you put the phone between your ear and neck you are causing the equivalent damage as if a tornado, a tsunami and an earthquake hit your back... No kidding.


When you have financial stress the mind, clever as it is, will organize the biology of your body so that blood does not reach the supporting tissues around your back...

How smart of her right?


Can you believe that?

This was of course discussed by Dr John Sarno in his book "Healing Back Pain"

The book made it so big that Howard Stern himself recommended it in his ultra popular radio show.

This is why I am putting it in the recommended books.

Because the stress of financial problems creates a diversion, so that we believe we have back pain, because the body knows we are not ready to deal with the financial issue mentally.  

So, if you resonate with this:
Make a plan, talk to someone, find a way to start dealing with financial issues, because that way you will avoid future back pain.

I usually get a chuckle when something yogis have been using for over three thousand years appears as a "new discovery by science"

That is the case with "shalabasana" a popular and easy posture from yoga which can help prevent back pain. 

When the clinic recommends it they suggest you put a pillow under your stomach...

That might help in the beginning as the trunk really is supporting all of your body, but eventually you get used to it.

The good thing about this posture as you can see is that the whole spine is lit up...

Every supporting muscle HAS to engage.

So doing this posture and breathing in it daily can be a blessing for the back because it tones all supporting engines.

Oh and one more thing! 

Come to my workshop on PREVENTING BACK PAIN: April 11th At Sky Baby Yoga and Pilates in beautiful Cold Spring, NY (2PM-4:30PM) -  

You can call them 845-265-4444 to register.


For a short yoga class you can do in the morning use this video, o este en Castellano

For a 30 minute class with the minimum viable poses needed to stay healthy use this

Healing Back Pain, By Dr. Sarno - This is the book Howard Stern recommended and in it he goes over how financial stress is sometimes the cause of acute back pain attacks.

Treat Your Own Back by Robin McKenzie: This amazing little book has all the seven exercises you can do on your own whenever back pain appears.  It is simple and easy to follow, and the best part is that it works.

Treat Your Own Neck by Robin McKenzie - Also with seven short and easy exercises to treat acute neck pain.  Of course, nothing beats prevention as per the post you read here, but if it strikes, these work...  Although, I will say I had better luck with the previous book than with this one... The neck is a lot more delicate, so take care of it.

The McKenzie Roll - Design by him and his team this is what I use at my desk to ensure that the lower-back stays in place (as much as possible) and then the rest of the spine follows its lead...

Pain Free by Pete Egoscue - This book has gotten a lot of attention lately, and so has Egoscue and his method.  I found the book to be relevant and helpful, but it does have too many exercises, which compared to McKenzie (above) makes it seem more cumbersome, more like I would need to go to one of his classes.  

Have a question? Ask me!

The Yoga Podcast Ep# 4 Matthew Sweeney - Making Yoga Work For You

You know that episode where you introduce your guest and you do it all wrong? And then he has to stop you -very politely- to make corrections?  Well, this is one of those episodes...

If you cannot see the big photo with the play button you can listen by clicking here. Or listen in I-tunes -  

[Also: please forgive the quality of the Skype audio that gave us a little echo here and there... Bali-NYC/Skype connections can be iffy sometimes]

But the good thing is that Matthew Sweeney is a really cool guy, he was not disappointed and he wanted to correct things because he has two partners on the beautiful yoga place they share in Ubud, in paradise Bali, and so he told me.  

And I left it on the podcast together with my "other" mistake because I think it is good that you hear the spontaneity of how it all went.

I met Matthew through a photograph.  And it is not as woo-woo as it sounds... 

I was in Mysore, it was 2008, and one night, during one of those frequent electricity cuts, my friend Martina and I started looking at his book "Ashtanga Yoga As It Is".

We looked specifically at the advanced postures, we were in a rush -back then- to see how we would be making our bodies into pretzels (NOT!)...

And so, we were looking at photos like, well, pick any of the photos in the sample page below... really, ANY...

Then we would look at each other, Martina and I, over the flickering candle light and go:  

"Noooooo... That is impossible!"

What I love about Matthew is that he works very hard at the practice, at teaching it and at keeping it real.

He has "beef" with the usual teacher trainings when they are impersonal and the teacher does not get to know the students (think those courses that teach more than a hundred at the time).

He also does not believe that one system can be good for "everyone", because he has seen the results...

People leave the practice when it is too rigid, when it won't adjust to the issues and the lifestyles and DNA of each individual person.

And that is sad.

He is also adamant about getting to know personally the people who will go in the world and teach what he teaches.  

His teacher trainings have many levels, but they are not there to annoy anyone, but rather to build a solid relationship, to do it right.

And, because his practice is so extensive and has happened over such a long period of time, he has created his own sequences, which you can download (see about Matthew section at the bottom of the email)

[Click here to start listening]

11 Reasons Why Women Need To Become Idea Machines Now

We are at a point in history where we have to stop pretending we are not brilliant beings. 
We, as women, need to become idea machines, pronto.  

The power that comes through it is a gift we owe to the world. 

We have to own our talent and admit that we have something to bring to the table. 

We are in a magnificent position to affect change in the world in a feminine way.  There is no winning in playing small anymore.

I said that recently at Fei's podcast

And... Of course....

In true "Idea Machine style"... 

that conversation invited me to elaborate and come up with ten/eleven reasons why it is so important for women (and men, of course) but specifically, in this case, for women, to become idea machines.

Here are them:



Ideas are the currency of the 21st century 

Because the old job and the retirement, or even social security is rather "iffy" at best these days.

We don't exactly know how the money will come, but then again, in the past way of life, we also didn't exactly know, because if we did then we were at a "job", where the number was small and fixed...

And nobody ever generates wealth that way.... Because there is little value added at a fixed, "boring" job.

Thinking of wealth in terms of ideas levels the plain-filed.

Just like the Philharmonic orchestra got more women into their pool of talented musicians once they started auditioning by hearing music BUT with a screen covering the gender.

Just like that screen... ideas allow us to level the field.


I will tell you one thing that disheartened me while reading Lean In... 

Sheryl says that when she gives talks it is always men that raise their hands and ask questions.  Women rarely ask.

I am not saying we should be CEO's, or start companies, or run Facebook's operations, and I am also NOT saying we should be more like men...


I am just saying we need to start raising our hand and speaking up... And asking questions.

In the book "The Confidence Code" (see recommended reading below) I read that studies show that women will apply for a job (or ask a question) only if they feel 100% prepared.

Men will apply for a job if they feel they are 70% prepared!

And ask a question even when they don't have one.

This is something I've been sensing quite a bit, and that is why these days....

I ASK QUESTIONS.  Every time.

[Keep calm image from here]

Even if I don't know know what I am about to ask... 

Just as I did in the last conference where as I lifted my hand I had no idea what I was going to ask.  But I did have a question!

So yes, the question was formulated between the moment the hand started going up and the moment the speaker said: "yes"?

It is evolutionary for us to raise our hands, to ask, to take risks, to be bold.  

Because our voice is missing from the conversation otherwise.

LISTING TEN IDEAS A DAY gets the idea muscle ready, flexible, in good shape, and trained to look for questions, to look for answers, to look for the "gaps".  

Then it is easier to ask questions.


Some people have began listing ideas together with me since the book launch, and many are sharing them (sometimes daily in Twitter)

I heard of someone who sent 10 ideas to a music festival, and now that festival has him help them with their croudsourcing efforts.

I sent 10 ideas to 99Designs because I used their services three times in three months and I had enough experience to know where they could improve.

The CEO Wrote me a letter this week:

The Yoga Podcast: Episode #3 Gregor Maehle: YOGA MEDITATION -The Real Thing

We can sit in meditation all we want but it means NOTHING unless both nostrils are working at the same time because that is the only physiological thing that sets the odds in our favor. Did you know that?

If you cannot see the photo of Gregor with the Play button below - click here to start listening as you read.  Or...Click here to listen in ITunes

That: the thing about breathing through both nostrils at once so that meditation can "maybe happen".... Is one of the thousands of secrets I've learned from Gregor Maehle

He is an amazing teacher.  

For example, he is one of the few practicing yogis -living today- that is willing to do all the research and practice, and translate it into plain English so we can all understand what yoga means, as a whole.

On Episode 3 Gregor acts like a catalyst of understanding for all of us to really get it. 

When you hit "play" you will hear in a magical wayhow all branches of yoga come together to bring you into the mystical sacredness of this very moment

It is amazing how he can make it all so clear in less than an hour.

There is plenty of meditation out there, but nobody talks about how it connects to yoga, specifically.  

Schools don't teach it... even the large and famous ones... 

10 Reasons I Loved The Book BOLD

Just finished listening to BOLD.  And even though the book is competing with mine in the Amazon ranks, here is showing that there is abundance for all.

Loved BOLD for these 10 reasons:

See #3 to make sense of the photo

Right at the start we understand that yes, the two (or two dozen) 19-year-olds from Stanford sold Instagram to Facebook for kizillions. 

That happened.

BUT it doesn't always happen that way. No.

The stars aligned for them. The time had come. Other companies had not pivoted in time (Kodak)

So... We can start a business and give it our all, but we cannot ever know if it will be a success.

Forces way beyond us are at work.

This is why the impressive entrepreneurs of our times take huge risks, but, they are calculated.

For example, when Branson leased his first aircraft from Boeing he made sure he would be able to return it and walk away after a year, in case it all "crashed"

Huge risk - hedge thinking

10 Ideas For The Usual: I'm 18 With An Idea For An "App" What Should I Do?

Someone asked this in Clarity.fm and I've seen that question everywhere. You know the type? 
I have this great idea for an "app", what should I do?  --- You've heard it I am sure...  
That  is why I went "Idea Machine" on it.
Here are my ten ideas:
1.- Get a customer. For your app. Someone that will pay to use it, get their actual money in your hand. (That will show you how good the idea is)
2.- Describe to me what your app does in ONE SENTENCE. One that a 3 year old can understand
3.- Tell me what comes after "because" meaning... I must use your app because.... "......... .........."
4.- Speck it out in all details - Google how people have done it before. Do not miss on any of the steps
5.- Outsource the first page and get it done - Do not spend more than 100 dollars on this
6.- Document each step of the way in a blog
7.- Do a video of "what you thought would happen" and "what is actually happening" - every day
8.- Think of 10 other apps
9.- Repeat all previous steps for the 10 other apps
10.- Teach me how to answer the question you just asked from idea to full execution.... and charge for the course.