Back pain after practicing Neigong

Many of my students are in the slightly older category with a variety of physical problems, hypertension being one of them. So, recently, I was asked by a student what to do when you have back and neck pain after practicing the Yin Yang method.

Basically, you should be able to get rid of hypertension in the neck, shoulder and back area and to fully regain flexibility throughout the whole spine area again, step by step, by practicing the Yin Yang method. There should be no pain involved in this at all.

Feeling any pain when doing these movements simply tells you that you lack a certain sensitivity which is necessary to carry out this practice. What should you therefore pay attention to in order to avoid the effects which are absolutely contrary to the ones you would like to achieve?

Rule number 1: Any twisting of the spine or any backwards bending should be done in a way that is pleasantly liberating. While actually practicing it, a Daoist practice should already contain a small part of its goal, being a miniature of a bigger, further goal. In the Daoist worldview, obstacles are not moved out of the way by force, or „destroyed“. More suitable visualizations are a naturally melting away, or a dissolving of the obstacle by itself. The focus is always on the unfolding of potential. (Physical) limitations in some areas are always approached by allowing equally existing abilities/capacities/competencies more space to unfold and expand.

It is not at all important whether a movement is executed „ideally“, looks as good as, or even better than my neighbor’s. A Daoist practice is not about comparing myself with the outside world, with my environment. The prime directive for myself is for the movements to increase vitality in my body and my mind, step by step.

What mindset is such an approach based upon?

In Daoist movement traditions, the concept of Ziran (自然) provides an important orientation. Literally, Ziran means „to be like this by itself.“ Closely related to this concept is Wuwei, non-action (無為) which does not mean to do nothing and being absolutely passive, but to move and act along „parallels“ to your potential. Behind this concept is the idea to allow for an environment in which the inherent potential of something, of a process, can come into its own as unencumbered as possible and where this potential is felt and supported.

For your own movement practice, this means that you reduce and adapt an exercise or an individual movement as much as is needed for it to optimally correspond to your current abilities and possibilities. According to Daoist philosophy, the outer form is therefore much less important than somehow realizing the ideas that are transported and are supposed to be expressed in a form.

Comment: By the way, it is definitely a significant error to think that the Yin Yang method is merely something of interest to older people.