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Morality and Daily Life

Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion

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Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 12/20/11 7:33 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Jackson Wilshire 12/20/11 10:48 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 12/21/11 1:44 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/21/11 8:42 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 12/21/11 9:29 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/21/11 12:50 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 12/22/11 2:04 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion josh r s 12/22/11 10:39 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 12/23/11 8:50 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/22/11 10:54 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 12/23/11 8:47 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/23/11 10:11 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 12/29/11 1:31 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/30/11 11:28 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/30/11 11:35 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/30/11 12:59 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/30/11 11:59 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/5/12 10:38 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 1/5/12 4:12 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/6/12 10:43 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/18/12 11:58 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 1/19/12 1:17 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 1/19/12 1:24 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/22/12 9:08 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 1/27/12 1:19 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/28/12 10:21 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 1/30/12 6:40 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/30/12 7:00 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 1/30/12 7:24 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/30/12 8:00 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/30/11 3:31 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 12/30/11 4:14 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 12/30/11 4:45 PM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion Bagpuss The Gnome 1/2/12 3:14 AM
RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/4/12 6:49 PM
Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/20/11 7:33 AM
I can't find any mention of tiredness or headaches being a side-effect of the Equanimity stage of insight. I find myself extremely tired most of the time these days and have a pretty much constant mild background headache which gets worse from time to time throughout the day.

I've recently come out of the DN into EQ --could these things be related to my practice (about 2hrs body scanning a day) or should I be looking to diet / exercise / muscle-tensions etc (the normal stuff..)

Does anyone else have any experiences of headaches or tiredness in EQ?

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/20/11 10:48 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Hey BTG,

I think it's more likely to be the result of "diet / exercise / muscle-tensions," as you put it. Headaches and tiredness could be signs of mild anemia, which would clear up in a matter of days if you were to include more iron, folic acid, and B12 in your diet. Supplements work just as well, and are often more convenient and easy to control. Aside from that, get adequate sleep, and try to move around a little bit every day.

I'm not saying it's not practice related, because I can't know that for sure. But, there's no harm in improving basic physical and mental health through diet, exercise, and restful sleep. I'd give it a shot.

-Jackson

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/21/11 1:44 AM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
I'm sure your'e right Jackson. Thanks.

Funny thing is, my diet and exercise and sleep are all great --apart from....

* Though i give myself 9hrs I wake often during the night
* Though my diet is very good I have a mad addiction to chocolate/sugary foods which pretty much ruins all the effort I put into the rest of the day emoticon

I got into meditation as a reaction to serious levels of stress (physical symptoms like heart attack chest pains etc) and although I've fixed all of that, even my (at the time) overwhelming existential dread I wonder if this is the same stuff showing up in a different way still.

After xmas I plan to eliminate refined sugar for 3mts as a test. Then to try gluten after that.

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/21/11 8:42 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Hi BtG,

I do not know if there is a correlation between EQ and fatigue and headaches or any other stage of insight. These symptoms were common for me during the DN stages. If I remember correctly you've been dealing with fatigue for awhile.

From personal experience, I relate to what you're experiencing. What you are doing (exploring various causes and paying attention to the experience/ experiencing the experiences attentively...) worked for me. While you may find a cause (e.g., diet, exercise, sleep, tension, conceptual perseveration, etc), the symptoms may come and go without ever being causally understood (i.e., as a wild card, the body may be having a herxheimer response and killing low-grade infection (which one may not know one had) as the immune system elevates upon exit from the insight knowledges of misery, aversion, hatred, etc ("dark night" symptoms) and begins to follow new guidance from and have its own signaling recognized by the clearing mental faculty).

Experimenting with diet and exercise and stretching are also useful. What I experienced after EQ - lacking the obscuring din of dark night generations, was that the body basically needed some tending after years of sickness and inattention*.

In my opinion, the body needs care and mindfulness all the time, benefits from a clearing mental faculty, and that any gap between apt action and in-the-exact-moment-mindfulness may start to reduce as one continues along stages of insight (if that is the model being used, if any).


____
[edit: *even where I was attending to the body and taking care of it and exercising, the process of mind in pre-equanimity stages may have been (and seems to me to have been) refueling fatigue and low immunity. It was just par for the course in my particular experience of those stages.]

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/21/11 9:29 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Thanks Katy.

I hear what you're saying about the DN and immune system. The DN hit me very hard physically as it was coupled with poor sleep and poor nutrition over a 10 day retreat. Even though I walk an hour a day, do yoga, row, lift weights and am 90% vegan I am still a bit frail - generally strong and fit, but easily knocked off balance. Even six weeks after coming back I think im still getting over it!

Interesting what you say about the body fighting off low level stuff. Also I did a little research today and sugar is apparently quite a likely candidate when looking for causes of chronic fatigue.

The unfortunate thing is I suspect much of it has to do with kids. I just don't deal with the noise and demands of small kids well, and there's not much I can do about that --I've gotten way better at dealing with it all since I started meditating, but they'll still be little for a few years yet.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't change any of that if I could. It may be a strong contributing factor whether I'd like it to be or not.

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/21/11 12:50 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Thanks for your posts, BtG. I think your experiences are helpful to read and quite practical to living.


The unfortunate thing is I suspect much of it has to do with kids. I just don't deal with the noise and demands of small kids well, and there's not much I can do about that --I've gotten way better at dealing with it all since I started meditating, but they'll still be little for a few years yet.

I was very light/sound sensitive for a long time. My tonal hearing cannot be further tested at my general practioner's office as I apparently could hear (at the last test time this summer) the quietest sounds available to the machine. So, I had headphones and ear plugs both to grant people around me some privacy as well as reduce incoming sensation.

At a certain point I changed my view on incoming sensation like sound, though I have not challenged myself with sound beyond those sounds which can be experienced in normal life. It began by noticing my startle reflex to a smoke alarm was actually causing full body energization. I decided to take in the alarm with welcome and as a tool for energizing well-being, like a meal of energy. This caused warmth throughout my body, and I did not experience my former hearing-suffering. Now, I open myself to such sounds (and light) in this manner to continue the experiment: can this energy be useful and beneficial? Can you host the sounds and cacophony that is common to a house with many adults, children, pets, messes, moods, etc as energy that can be used healthfully, fueling your smiles and listening and calm?

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/22/11 2:04 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
My tonal hearing cannot be further tested at my general practioner's office as I apparently could hear (at the last test time this summer) the quietest sounds available to the machine. So, I had headphones and ear plugs both to grant people around me some privacy as well as reduce incoming sensation.


That's quite something. Must make it very hard on you if you have the misfortune to end up in a shopping centre like I did yesterday! My hearing is nothing special in those terms, but I rely on it more than most as Im registered blind (though I can see plenty, in a limited kind of way).

Can you host the sounds and cacophony that is common to a house with many adults, children, pets, messes, moods, etc as energy that can be used healthfully, fueling your smiles and listening and calm?


It doesn't sound likely but I'm keen to try it. I can't envision sitting amidst the din and loving it. It's very almost constant, no let up. I'll try to just view it as "good" though, unless you have any thoughts technique Katy?

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/22/11 10:39 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
hey bagpuss, ive had some recent success with not being bothered by significant noise, try to "make" the noise into body sensations happening at the ear.

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/22/11 10:54 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Hi BtG,

As a structural point, I think your hearing is probably more "on" (i.e., it's probably a better developed sense faculty overall than my hearing's fine tonal registry) in order for the mental faculty to continue making its comprehensive and detailed account of surroundings in lieu of a detailed sight faculty. This is a significant difference in our experience of (and reliance on) sound. So, I consider that my reply may not resonate with you to contribute to your exploration of fatigue and sound.

What we both have reported experiencing is affective aversion applied to our respective afferent sensations of quotidian sound. So, maybe my experience can be useful to your exploration of fatigue and sound.

It doesn't sound likely but I'm keen to try it. I can't envision sitting amidst the din and loving it. It's very almost constant, no let up. I'll try to just view it as "good" though, unless you have any thoughts technique Katy?

Try having any impatience and aversion without any physical tension. This can be done by just allowing the sound-averse affective thought(s) to occur, yet breathing deeply to ensure a relaxed body during affective thought(s). I remember almost wanting to flex my ear drums against daily sounds, being irritated and wanting seclusion. These affective responses to afferent daily sensations made for a lot of tension. This tension caused a lot of fatigue.

If there is no thought while you are listening, then listening is an internally quiet reception of afferent sensations. If you need to sustain a thought or thoughts while listening like, "please put on your shoes", "put on your shoes", "shoes, please", then that thought can be quiet (as in: free-of-tension), too. You are listening and you hold a necessary thought in mind, even expressing it repeatedly as benefits the outcome of the situation. Maybe the kids start to scream or to fight. Breathe deeply (which also engages the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces organ and vascular tension) and welcome these thoughts just like hearing without physical tensions. With practice, deep breathing, and kindness for yourself, the "din" can become as though you are standing in the ocean surf (daily sounds) and not creating hearing-tsunami (affective interpretation of the afferent sensations of daily sounds). This internal silence and relaxed physicality can have the same effect on those around you. (As can tension similarly effect those in proximity.) It takes practice and repetition. It must be a sincere, committed experiment.

Habitual reactions are perhaps more likely to trump the effort than re-newed affectation (such as aversion to the afferent sensations of daily sounds), then irritation with oneself (a new tension) for having repeated a habitual reaction (showing aversion to sound) is the new sneaky way for tension to return and for one to feel like giving up. To simplify: breath deeply at the first recognition of any tension. Consider a habit of breathing deeply for no reason at all, other than to remind the body of its useful tool.

But sometimes a re-newed affectation arises: a person strongly desires time to themselves to sleep, to see themselves, to let loose. That understandable. If you can gain back some of the energy that is lost to tension, then maybe you can spend it in the hours when everyone sleeps. And maybe your sleep will be better. I stretch the back simply before bed and when I wake up.

Some sound is harmful and painful to eardrums. However, in what you've described, I haven't read any mention of hearing these harmful decibels. So your decision to try sound as "good" seems apt: there is probably some causal goodness to be found in the din of your family life, e.g., people are well, children feel safe enough to express themselves, act out, have tantrums, have friends over, be gleeful and full throated, etc.

What do you think?

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/23/11 8:47 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Try having any impatience and aversion without any physical tension. This can be done by just allowing the sound-averse affective thought(s) to occur, yet breathing deeply to ensure a relaxed body during affective thought(s).


Yes. I actually remember doing something like this in the first few days from coming back off my last retreat. Unfortunately I slipped back into the DN and was (and partially still am!) exhausted, so it didn't last long. The strategy, which just kind of happened without any thought was to be totally, 100% present and attentive to RIGHT NOW. As my kids were competing for my attention with noise and behaviour I just gave the situation my absolute attention, and I was breathing calmly without having to think about it. As Shinzen Young is fond of saying "Suffering = (Pain * Resistance)". I'll bet that emulating that mindfulness and combining it with your breathing suggestion might work really well.


With practice, deep breathing, and kindness for yourself, the "din" can become as though you are standing in the ocean surf (daily sounds) and not creating hearing-tsunami (affective interpretation of the afferent sensations of daily sounds). This internal silence and relaxed physicality can have the same effect on those around you. (As can tension similarly effect those in proximity.) It takes practice and repetition. It must be a sincere, committed experiment.


Consider a habit of breathing deeply for no reason at all, other than to remind the body of its useful tool.


I've been trying to remember to pay attention to my breath as a means of maintaining mindfulness of the present moment off the cushion. This gives me added incentive to remember --it's amazing to me how hard such a simple thing is, but I'll redouble my efforts!

I stretch the back simply before bed and when I wake up.


Any stretch in particular Katy?

Thanks for the very detailed reply. It's given me a lot to work with. I'll put some effort into this and report back in this thread and let you know how it worked out emoticon

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/23/11 8:50 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
hey bagpuss, ive had some recent success with not being bothered by significant noise, try to "make" the noise into body sensations happening at the ear.


I've heard of this as a kind of vipassana but have not been able to separate sensation from content and meaning (with regard to words). I think I have a guided meditation by Shinzen Young on tape that does this though. It might be worth doing it to see if I can get it to work for me. Thanks Josh

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/23/11 10:11 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Any stretch in particular Katy?
I had back surgery a long time ago and lumbar stretches (for two minutes or more with long, slow deep breathing) help me reduce/avoid accumulating tension in the low back. A teacher recently showed four exceedingly sensible and easy stretches to do in the morning (I have seen people use these when back is in spasm):
1. laying flat on back, bring one knee to the chest (the other leg is gently straight or slightly bent as needed) and for two minutes be there with long, slow, deep, breathing (ujjayi breathing if you know it, though it is not essential) via nostrils, if you are not congested
2. switch legs and repeat

The above gently stretches the psoas muscles as well as muscles in th elow back

3. bring both legs into the chest and gently bring cheeks to the knees. Take a few breathes, then release the head down and continue to have the knees at the chest, roll slightly the weight back and forth between both hips as if your pressing cookie dough flat with your low back.

Do not do anything that feels painful. Any stretch feeling is "comfortably active" not unnerving, painful or unstable. If I can take long slow deep breathes repeatedly, then I generally find the stretch is in the correct effort.

If it is winter in your area, consider drinking hot water throughout the day, especially towards the evening. This helps to prepare the body for stretching.

I am going to add an activity for the evening in conjunction with evening stretches in view of your recurring "dark night" symptoms. (I'll add first just a reminder that the knowledges of misery, aversion, hatred, fearfulness are not something to be avoided, nor are they "bad"; in my experience, being in them with receptivity and without physical tension (or with physical tensions acknowledged, studies, then ameliorated) and/or spending designated time with them analytically (because, for me DN was abundant with complex and often harsh ideation) is what results in their bodily conversion from hardships to insight.). So, back to the activity for consideration with evening stretches when hard symptoms of the knowledges of suffering occur ("DN"): if you have warm water and a shower (or just warm water and a cloth) I would suggest that, before or after evening stretches, take a warm shower and rub the body vigorously with a cloth in circular motions. This is gentle, but vigorous. (If you have an arm injury of any sort and cannot do this, no worries. None of this is essential, it is a little showmanship to address the showmanship of DN symptoms. These actions are not necessary at all. Further, if it is winter where you live at present, then consider adding a little oil to your lotion (or just using a scented natural oil) to moisturize after the shower.)

Evening stretches (these can be done in a chair if you have hurt hamstrings, but ultimately, stretching the hamstrings is very key to the low back's relaxation - tight hamstrings can pull on the muscles of the low back and increase tension there; if one sits all day, then hamstrings are contracted all day and this, to me, contributes to the back's stagnancy and availability to tension):
A. Uttanasana: I just drop forward from the hips, cross arms above head and hold respective elbows and rock a little between heels and toes until I find a good stretch place, then I deeply breath here for 2-3 minutes (the stretch gets softer and deeper during these minutes)

B. dandasana: I just sit down, focus on the pelvic basin spilling forward, chest bone lifting, hands flat by hips (which is a great stretch for forearms and can be adjusted with blocks and angle of rotation for symptoms of carpal tunnel (I rotate hands to knuckle-side for any tennis-elbow like twinges) and, finding a comfortabley active stretch here, I breath for two minutes and let the erector spinae and rhomboid work a bit. I sometimes like at the ceiling and point the nose up, if my neck responds well to such neck muscle-lifting-tilting.

C. Twists in both directions: if I am limber, then I might do two reclined side twists, otherwise I might do a simpler version of marichyasanawithout the behind-the-back hold (see modifications in the link)

If you want to do some pranayama with breathing, there is cow-cat. A caution here: cow-cat led to my A&P event at age 15. It was a little wild and certainly unexpected, but tip-top blissful. I have since heard that cow-cat breathing is known for sometimes causing some out-of-body/bliss sensations.

You might use Yoga Journal.com or google scholar "Ray Long, MD" for guidelines on these stretches.

After these stretches can be a good time for a little sitting meditation. Or, a great time for getting in bed and placing the mental faculty of attention on afferent sensations: pillow case smoothness, weight of eyelids, weight of skin between eye brows releasing, jaws releasing, weight of blanket over hips, thighs, shoulders, arms, sounds of cars, sounds of snorer, rise and fall of own chest, snowfall "sound" within mind, open universe, whole body getting heavy, mental thought: rest is good.

Thanks for the very detailed reply. It's given me a lot to work with. I'll put some effort into this and report back in this thread and let you know how it worked out
Thank you for applying your efforts to raising children.

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/29/11 1:31 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.

1. laying flat on back, bring one knee to the chest (the other leg is gently straight or slightly bent as needed) and for two minutes be there with long, slow, deep, breathing (ujjayi breathing if you know it, though it is not essential) via nostrils, if you are not congested
2. switch legs and repeat

The above gently stretches the psoas muscles as well as muscles in th elow back

3. bring both legs into the chest and gently bring cheeks to the knees. Take a few breathes, then release the head down and continue to have the knees at the chest, roll slightly the weight back and forth between both hips as if your pressing cookie dough flat with your low back.


Im familiar with these as preparatory asanas for desk pose ( Dwi pada pitham ) and shoulder stand and plough --the last two I do rarely these days as they tend to aggravate my neck/mid back problems.

I'd never appreciated what great stretches they were all by themselves though. (I've never held them for longer than 30secs or so). I did them for the first time this morning in bed and although it doesn't feel like much is happening during the pose, it really works out a LOT of the morning stiffness in the low back! (and i am stiff as a board in the mornings..)

You've got 3 stretches there but you mentioned 4. Did you mean to suggest another?


If it is winter in your area, consider drinking hot water throughout the day, especially towards the evening. This helps to prepare the body for stretching.


I gave up caffeine a few weeks back and was introduced to "Karin's Miracle Tea!" (7 cloves, 7 cardemom pods, thumb of ginger crushed up a bit with the skin still on - boil in enough water for 4 mugs of tea for 3mins, you can use the same stuff 3x - just add 1/2 thumb of fresh crushed ginger each time).

If i need a break from that (rarely, it's great!) some camomile. So lots of hot liquids all day pretty much. This is very much in line with general ayurvedic advice for Vata types - I'll talk more about this later.


I would suggest that, before or after evening stretches, take a warm shower and rub the body vigorously with a cloth in circular motions.


The baths I can and do do, but unfortunately I just can't add another routine into a day with to few hours emoticon


Evening stretches (these can be done in a chair if you have hurt hamstrings, but ultimately, stretching the hamstrings is very key to the low back's relaxation - tight hamstrings can pull on the muscles of the low back and increase tension there; if one sits all day, then hamstrings are contracted all day and this, to me, contributes to the back's stagnancy and availability to tension):


I always understood it to be the hip flexors providing most of the problems with pulling the pelvis forward? The problem with non specific low back pain is it seems to be largely a symptom of stressful modern lives as much as far too much time sitting, and walking on even surfaces in unhelpful footwear. I stopped trying to cure my low back pain earlier this year when meditation had pretty much cleared it up for me bar times when I sat badly at the desk for too many hours - It has since come back with renewed vigour so stretches that gently keep tension at bay are very welcome indeed.



A. Uttanasana: I just drop forward from the hips, cross arms above head and hold respective elbows and rock a little between heels and toes until I find a good stretch place, then I deeply breath here for 2-3 minutes (the stretch gets softer and deeper during these minutes)


Like the other stretches above, this one when done for 2mins+ is an astonishing find for me. Thanks Katy! It's a pretty humble stretch really, but boy, it really really does wonders. The low back feels amazing after this and during it the hamstrings right up through the glutes get an amazing stretch. I often have really aching gluteus medius / maximus and this seems to hit at least one if not both of them right where they need it --though the aching is best cured with squats or some other kind of glute intensive exercise as it seems those pains are through lack of use.

B. dandasana: I just sit down, focus on the pelvic basin spilling forward, chest bone lifting, hands flat by hips (which is a great stretch for forearms and can be adjusted with blocks and angle of rotation for symptoms of carpal tunnel (I rotate hands to knuckle-side for any tennis-elbow like twinges) and, finding a comfortabley active stretch here, I breath for two minutes and let the erector spinae and rhomboid work a bit. I sometimes like at the ceiling and point the nose up, if my neck responds well to such neck muscle-lifting-tilting.


Im not sure how the arms get stretched here? When I do this pose my arms are bent quite a bit at the elbow however I place my hands. I like this pose as a transitional pose between wide angled seated forward bend and cobblers pose for example, but have not sat in it for any length of time. For working the low - mid back I like chair pose, done with various hasta vinyasas (hand positions) like arms in front, above and in reverse namaste. Though it's quite an intense position, it depends what else i've done that day whether or not i hold these vinyasa for any length of time.

After these stretches can be a good time for a little sitting meditation. Or, a great time for getting in bed and placing the mental faculty of attention on afferent sensations: pillow case smoothness, weight of eyelids, weight of skin between eye brows releasing, jaws releasing, weight of blanket over hips, thighs, shoulders, arms, sounds of cars, sounds of snorer, rise and fall of own chest, snowfall "sound" within mind, open universe, whole body getting heavy, mental thought: rest is good.


I've not tried this but it sounds great. I have trouble sometimes at sleep time with the mind/body starting to meditate and not being able to stop it - also with "angry white buzzy flash startle thingy" that jerks me to attention.

Now, a suggestion for your if you will...

There is a particular routine I learnt from Srivatsa Ramaswami, a student of Krishnamacharya (as was Pattabhi Jois of Ashtanga yoga fame) in his book "Complete book of vinyasa yoga": It's a simple set of postures done from the base of tadasana which includes twists of varying intensity according to the hasta vinyasa used, backbends, utannasana (again with various hand positions), side-bends, chair poses and
the full hip stretch ( purna utkatasana ). This sequence is very gentle, and works equally well in the morning, evening, before or after meditation. I like it most as a preparation for meditation, you get a pretty good all over flexing and stretching of the body, and with one or two additions, it's a complete yoga routine all in itself. I highly recommend it.

This particular book is full of good sequences, but after talking with you I've adjusted the tadasana sequence to stay much longer in forward bend and even in purna utkatasana (which is a bit hard, but well worth working on).

I've tried looking for some book that will help me work out the best poses for spending time in. In theory you could do any I guess but when I did this in triangle and reverse triangle, all i really got from it were seriously aching shoulders the next day emoticon Do you have any specific books you'd recommend reading Katy?

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
Answer
12/30/11 11:28 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
You've got 3 stretches there but you mentioned 4. Did you mean to suggest another?
The fourth is the opposite twist. So, it's 1)forward, 2)backward, 3)twist, 4)opposite twist. This is a basic torso-back routine from a teacher with whom I study at present. It can be done in a manner to include the hamstrings (I.e., using asanas like uttanasana, setubhanda, and other asanas of your choosing that accomplish FWD, BWD, TWST, OppTWST), or this can be simplified further by doing this in a chair which removes the hamstrings from the actions (and this can be good for people who have for various reasons very limited range of motion in their back(and a pillow(s) can be placed on the lap to support a very limited forward bend). The chair version is also excellent to use at an office job if one is in a chair much of the day. I met a women with severe spondylolisthesis practicing these exercises in a chair and using pillows. It was very surprising that she could do these actions and feel better, develop back stability. She only started these this fall, so it remains to be seen whether this will help her condition over the long term.

I always understood it to be the hip flexors providing most of the problems with pulling the pelvis forward?

To be clear about what is meant by "hip flexors" I've pasted the wikipedia entry here:
"In human anatomy, the hip flexors are a group of skeletal muscles that act to flex the femur (thigh bone) onto the lumbo-pelvic complex, i.e., pull the knee upward.
The hip flexors are (in descending order of importance to the action of flexing the hip joint):[1]
Collectively known as the iliopsoas or inner hip muscles:
Psoas major
Psoas minor
Iliacus muscle
Anterior compartment of thigh
Rectus femoris (part of the quadriceps muscle group)
Sartorius
One of the gluteal muscles:
Tensor fasciae latae
Medial compartment of thigh
Pectineus
Adductor longus
Adductor brevis
Gracilis"
For me, I commonly need to stretch the psoas (with long slow deep breathing for about 2minutes minimum (or building up to two minutes) in order to stand up straight without the pelvic basin tucked in tension - this is from an injury a long time ago and a lack of follow-through with the yoga I learned in my early 20s. I do this with the lung and warrior poses or, what yogajournal.com calls a constructive rest position: svanasana with legs in butterfly pose, or just butterfly pose (purna titali), and the morning in-bed routine about which we've already posted and reply-posted.

So, whatever hip flexors are "providing the problems" for you, you may experiment, see how they are stretched and then consider gently stretching them (with long slow deep breathing and building to two minutes). As usual, only you know your body best and if you feel you do not know your body too well in a new stretch/effort/practice, then you may go very easily over several days/weeks/months to get to know your new stretch/effort/practice. A yoga pose is not needed...just your personal knowledge of you and your personal creation of some effective stretch/effort/practice that engages the tension and releases it by remaining in the stretch with long slow deep breathing and building up to two minutes (without pain, red flags arising anywhere). You can go beyond two minutes, but two minutes seem to be the point at which there is relaxation of the muscle fibers.


I'd never appreciated what great stretches they were all by themselves though. (I've never held them for longer than 30secs or so). I did them for the first time this morning in bed and although it doesn't feel like much is happening during the pose, it really works out a LOT of the morning stiffness in the low back! (and i am stiff as a board in the mornings..)
My experience has been the same! These stretches are deceptively simple, yet one starts the day without back tension. It is so effective. The person who offered those morning exercises to me was at one point an NFL player and he tends his own former injuries with these simple morning/evening moves.

Like the other stretches above, this one when done for 2mins+ is an astonishing find for me. Thanks Katy! It's a pretty humble stretch really, but boy, it really really does wonders. The low back feels amazing after this and during it the hamstrings right up through the glutes get an amazing stretch. I often have really aching gluteus medius / maximus and this seems to hit at least one if not both of them right where they need it --though the aching is best cured with squats or some other kind of glute intensive exercise as it seems those pains are through lack of use.
My experience has been the same and I enjoyed your description of it as a "humble stretch" that does wonders. This is the approach I take to other poses (I am new to the more impressive looking postures like lotus peacock and side crow, etc) . They are also simple and unassuming poses, but my mind and body are either ready for that perception or not. If I cannot view the pose as such, then some part of my mind or body or both are not ready for that asana. I then have to break that pose down into a precursor/steps that I can perceive with simplicity and wonder, a lack of assumption, otherwise I will likely be tense and force the effort. The forcing effort without a relaxed, unloaded mind seems risky to me.

Im not sure how the arms get stretched here?
Dandasana may not stretch your forearms (your arms may be long relative to your torso or your torso may be rounded a bit as yet). It stretches mine and helps my wrists and elbows shed tension and compression. If you have forearm tension, then you may find another stretch. You mention a wide-angled paschimottanasana which suggests to me that you are working more with muscles of the upper arm and boack (triceps, teres, deltoids, rhomboids, infraspinatus, latissimus, and/or erector spinae tensions). Whatever works. I find that if I can take long slow deep breathes (the gauge), then I am not too far into the stretch and that I can generally create a stretch to release a tension.

I've not tried this but it sounds great. I have trouble sometimes at sleep time with the mind/body starting to meditate and not being able to stop it - also with "angry white buzzy flash startle thingy" that jerks me to attention.
White flashy lights appearing with closed eyes are sometimes reported in certain stages of insight. I would just be aware of those. The experience may change over time.

Thank you for the vinyasa-krishnamacharya lineage book recommendation. I commonly create aversion to ashtanga - which is useful for me to see and invite.

I've tried looking for some book that will help me work out the best poses for spending time in. In theory you could do any I guess but when I did this in triangle and reverse triangle, all i really got from it were seriously aching shoulders the next day emoticon Do you have any specific books you'd recommend reading Katy?
Muscle ache can be a very normal fine response to stretching. Aches that stick around while they are not being used can be problematic. For example, I have been overusing triceps lately while working on a detail project, so I've had some tricep tendonitis for two weeks. Attentive, long stretches throughout the day (with ujjayi or long slow deep breathing) is helping to release the tension so that I can still do my activities.

As to yoga books, I use Ray Long's yoga books at present (and I ordered your book recommendation). These give plenty to consider and study. His book The Key Poses of Yoga has numerous poses. The book can be freely flipped through here on his site.

*edit: syntax

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12/30/11 11:35 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
A comment that I feel also belongs in this thread about physical practices is that my impression is that these practices are for knowing, loosening and freeing the conceptual mind for limitlessness apperception. To get stuck on a physical accomplishment (as with the jhanas (mental "accomplishments) is not the goal (for me), rather to live lightly, immersed in wonder-exploration-unknowing-engaging.

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12/30/11 11:59 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Do you have any specific books you'd recommend reading Katy?
for yoga- and meditation-related books I have enjoyed reading Wim Hof's Becoming the Iceman, and I've watched this videoso many times I may speak video-limited flamand now.

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12/30/11 12:59 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
As to yoga books, I use Ray Long's yoga books at present (and I ordered your book recommendation). These give plenty to consider and study. His book The Key Poses of Yoga has numerous poses. The book can be freely flipped through here on his site.
I forgot to mention: this book starts with a quote from Aryton Senna:
On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, 'Okay, this is the limit.' As soon as you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high."

RE: Tiredness & Headaches Off The Cushion
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12/30/11 3:31 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
I've not tried this but it sounds great. I have trouble sometimes at sleep time with the mind/body starting to meditate and not being able to stop it - also with "angry white buzzy flash startle thingy" that jerks me to attention.
also, Wim Hof has an alternate explanation to what you are possibly experiencing, on location 4027 of his ebook (mentioned above). I cannot cut and paste it here as it seems that that feature is disabled in this download. If you are experiencing the same thing, then he notes that such lights are a goal of breathing exercises he explains.

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12/30/11 4:14 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hi Katy. More thorough reply later, but briefly.. It's not really lights. Its something I've had ever since April or so when I hit the A&P -- i can be meditating, or trying to fall asleep and all of a sudden there is a "Bzzzzzzzz! Flash! Startled! Heartbeat beat beat.." sensation.

I have no idea what it is. Some theories, none of which have been verified or discarded include:

  • Some kind of odd response to falling asleep / losing consciousness in a meditative state.
  • Some kind of response to some sensate stimulus I'm unaware of (on retreat in Aug this year i was fairly convinced it was being caused by the feeling of my unshaven chin lightly touching the pillow --i was dead on my feet through lack of sleep at this point also and it happened like 10-12 times in 1/2hr when trying to get to sleep).
  • Aliens trying to tune into my brain when I'm off guard (just kidding..)


(I got the ray long book on order btw emoticon )

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12/30/11 4:45 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
It's not really lights. Its something I've had ever since April or so when I hit the A&P
Good. So, back to the tehme of your thread here - I had a lot of fatigue in the dark night stages - and I am wondering how your practices towards equanimity are faring (if this is your aim), e.g., taking in daily household sounds as a friendly energy meal?

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1/2/12 3:14 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
The energy-meal thing doesn't seem to work for me, but being 100% present with long slow breathing does. One of my new year resolutions will be to live in present moment awareness right here and now as much as possible every day. My aim is to combine dealing with hectic family life with furthering my practice. My hope is that stream entry is not that far off. I certainly have far more equanimity-like sits than dn-sits these days and my general mood and energy levels are much better even than when I started this thread.

Thanks for all the advice Katy!

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1/4/12 6:49 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
The energy-meal thing doesn't seem to work for me (...)
Yeah - I hear you on that. I've tried to perceive a certain monogamous relation's fermented-beverage-induced night-long winds, and, well, these winds do not convert easily to "an energy meal" (no fart tarts yet).

but being 100% present with long slow breathing does.
...and, yes, this does work, even with the winds.

Thanks for your posts. I am learning from your efforts and experience as well.

I created a post about cold-water immersion. If your fatigue and low energy is ongoing perhaps check it out. My energy is so exuberant after cold immersion that I have to study it and temper it. My neighbor is letting me run with and play with her puppy these past two weeks just to use up some steam. I am new to this practice. I'd be curious to know your experience if you try it as well.

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1/5/12 10:38 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
This book you recommended is very useful. Thank you, BtG.

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1/5/12 4:12 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Likewise Katy. I've only looked through the pictures in the Ray Long book you recommended but it looks great. Part one on biomechanics looks particularly promising.

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1/6/12 10:43 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Hi BtG -

Since we are discussing yoga here and others may read this thread for guidance, here is a recent article called "How yoga can wreck your body"..

I don't include it to cause alarm or to dissuade/persuade, just to make the observation (for anyone to consider) that any activity (including thought activity) can be harmful. If I overdo it or am intemperate (and inspire or invite a fad of such immoderate practitioners), then there is a possibility to write an article called, "How Tabasco can wreck your body" also. The observation is common sense, but it is also apparently commonly sensed to ignore moderation and personal awareness; I am not the first to make the observation. I include it here to offer that people consider their own experiences studiously with meticulous awarenss, to continue moderately, and to consider one's own experiences and study of them foremost among guidance.

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1/18/12 11:58 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Hi BtG - The breathing and bandhas recommended on
page 15 (edit: my link here was problematic, however, page 15 of Complete Book of Vinyasas is available via google scholar) have been exceptional for stretches engaging the upper hamstrings. These two bandhas seem to contain the stretch and protect the upper hamstrings, so I use them in any hamstring extension. I would not do these stretches without the breathing and bandhas now, and this author is thorough about guiding those (and others) in each movement. Very useful.

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1/19/12 1:17 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Brilliant. Thanks Katy. Will check it out this morning.

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1/19/12 1:24 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Ah yes. These are often part of my routine. This entire tadasana sequence is my absolute favourite set! Ideal for settign up before sitting. Don't recall the bandhas bit but I'll reread thatis section thx

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1/22/12 9:08 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Hey there, BtG.

I looked at dandasana again today and thought more about your earlier question:
Im not sure how the arms get stretched here?


In contracting the back muscles (up from the base of the spine contracting erector spinae (letting the pelvic basin roll slightly forward towards the feet as if spilling water through the waist), though the rhomboid (the contraction of which helps the breastbone rise) and teres minor and infraspinatus (which bring the scapulae down to lie flat on the back and help the shoulders roll back and stay relaxed down), the spine vertebrae elongate. (This is great for strengthening the back). When the spinal column (vertebrae) elongate, the arms have room to straighten (but do not lock), and allow for pressing lightly through the palms of the hands (on the floor by the hips) and a little forward pressing through the pad at the base of the middle finger. The inside of the elbow (crease where the elbow bends) faces towards the feet (without being strained) and this stretches the arms there (and wrist muscles, which help me with keep carpal tunnel at bay). I hope that helps.

Also, I apply the breathing on page 15 (noted earlier) whenever the hamstrings are involved (tight) because it is so easy and painless to strain the upper hamstrings\ attachments and it takes so long for those to recover (about a year...) - those bandhas seem to cause reciprocal inhibition and make my tight hammies feel protected in any asana in which I feel a bit dodgy (i.e., uttitha hasta padangustasana). That's just me.

I have given the book twice now as a gift and haven't gotten past the first few dozen pages ;)

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1/27/12 1:19 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hi Katy. My apologies for the rather late reply....



In contracting the back muscles (up from the base of the spine contracting erector spinae (letting the pelvic basin roll slightly forward towards the feet as if spilling water through the waist), though the rhomboid (the contraction of which helps the breastbone rise) and teres minor and infraspinatus (which bring the scapulae down to lie flat on the back and help the shoulders roll back and stay relaxed down), the spine vertebrae elongate. (This is great for strengthening the back). When the spinal column (vertebrae) elongate, the arms have room to straighten (but do not lock), and allow for pressing lightly through the palms of the hands (on the floor by the hips) and a little forward pressing through the pad at the base of the middle finger. The inside of the elbow (crease where the elbow bends) faces towards the feet (without being strained) and this stretches the arms there (and wrist muscles, which help me with keep carpal tunnel at bay). I hope that helps.



Nope. My arms are apparently way long. Mrs Bagpuss and Mother Bagpuss have both confirmed this. How I've gotten to be 40 without ever noticing I have long arms is quite beyond me...

I have 4-5 seriously locked up vertebrae in the middle of my back right now (have had for a long time) and real bad pain just off the inside edges of the shoulder blades at the top. I can't help thinking this is due to upper back weakness (though trigger points in the scalenes are also a very good candidate) but am at a loss as to how to work with it. Do you have any book/resource knowledge in this area?

It seems no amount of twists, backbends or forward bends will free up my locked vertebrae --in fact, im sure some of those are probably making it worse!




I have given the book twice now as a gift and haven't gotten past the first few dozen pages ;)


Some of the pages are falling out of my copy. Im going to have to buy another one emoticon

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1/28/12 10:21 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Would explain otherwise what you mean by your "locked up" vertebra? Does this mean the discs are compressed and give you nerve pains as a result of pressure or pinching on the nerves stemming off of the thoracic aspect of the spinal column?

Are you saying the pain (and the "locking up" begin around the C-7/T-1) and goes....how far down?

Are you also saying that sitting in a chair with your legs hip width apart (your heel centers aligned under your knees creating 45' angle between each leg's respective hamstring and calve muscle) and bending forward to hang over your knees (head loose and between the legs) is painful in the thoracic area of the back (between shoulder blades)?

- Do you try this first chair-asana with bolsters (big pillows to reduce the angle of your torso folding over your knees and to support the weight of the torso (as would the thighs if you were folding over further)?

- Reducing the forward bend with bolsters on the thighs can help to determine if this chair-asana is a beneficial stretch position for you or increasing harm. If you feel comfortably active, able to take deep long (minimum 5-second inhale, 5-sec exhale per your man Srivasta Ramaswami) and have no pain, then this is a way to get vertebra to decompress (release their pressure of the fluid discs) little by little (folding each morning and night, building up to 2-minutes and beyond).

- is your urine light or dark color? I trust the body can allocate water as it needs, but it you are generally dehydrated, then the vertebra in your back may have less fluid with which to become rehydrated (even thought the above asana my reduce pressure on the discs) if you are consistently fairly dehydrated. This is just a thought.

Can Mrs. Bagpuss see if you have a kyphotic curve in your upper back when you are forward in the above, chair-asana with pillow bolsters? A slight curve here is natural, though too much curvature here is called kyphosis (imagine competitive swimmers - how their shoulders tend to roll forward from kyphosis in the upper thoracic spine). Too little curve (flat upper back when folder forward, for example) is also not normal. Notice how skeletons in anatomy labs and books show the spine's lordotic and kyphotic curves when the skeleton is in a position of rest: some curve is the natural anatomy of the spine.

Do you have a repeated posture/activity that you think contributed to this "lock up"?

I want to be clear here: you are the best judge of your self and I have no certifications in the above. I do, however, not mention stuff to you that has not benefited me, and I had back surgery 20+ years ago; keeping my back hydrated, expanded, strong is important to me (because keeping it weak, compressed and disc-desiccated is uncomfortable and problematic). I am passing on what teachers or books have explained to me.

I hope this helps.

[Edit: reducing the extant of the stretch (such as a spinal twist in a chair) - having a very mellow slight twist with the "effort" placed more in breathing long, slow, and deep for a few minutes can be more helpful than a more active, "deeper" stretch, particularly if there is a long history of a problem (as you mention). ]

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1/30/12 6:40 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.


Do you have a repeated posture/activity that you think contributed to this "lock up"?


Sitting too much!

Katy as we're in email on this and it's way technical, lets talk there. Im not sure this conversation will benefit anyone else in particular.

Will work out what my T1 is and email back emoticon

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1/30/12 7:00 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Hi BtG,

Email works.

I asked two former athletes/current long-time yoga teachers this weekend about upper back tension in a flat back (not knowing the source of your thoracic pains): they referred to some descriptions of upper back rigidity and achey-ness as possibly "military back" (a very straight back). If that super-straight back is what is happening when you mention "sitting too much" as the cause of the tension/pain, then that chair asana with bolsters (supporting a high forward bend off the knees while a kyphotic curve is developed and while breathing into this chair-modified posture allows for decompression to occur) can help over the course of a week even. Over time, that new expansion between the thoracic discs becomes the body's memory (replacing the compression memory - and compression can press on nerves coming off the spinal cord around those discs causing radiating pain), but it can take months if there are years of compression/tension involved. I am linking here again Ray Long's uttanasana as this chair-modified asana is a modification of uttanasana ( the chair removes the influence of the hamstrings). Ray Long describes how to relax and back off of tense back muscles, then re-engage.

So, my ability to take five-second long deep breathes determines for me how low to go in any asana (including this chair-modified forward bend). If I cannot breathe deeply and in long in-/exhalations, then I have personally gone too far. As a body area relaxes I may go a little further. The deep, intentional breathing will engage the parasympathetic nervous system and cause organs, vessels and muscles to relax, so the breathe is essential to any posture.

Again, though, you're your best judge and know the most about your back. Good luck!

[edits: typos and grammar...surprise]

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1/30/12 7:24 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
>>chair-modified forward bend

Would that be necessary if I can do forward bends just fine? I don't seem to really have any flexibility issues, just this pain along the vertebrae when bending forward that feels like a bunch of them all stuck together?

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1/30/12 8:00 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
I don't seem to really have any flexibility issues, just this pain along the vertebrae when bending forward that feels like a bunch of them all stuck together?


Do you have a kyphotic curve in the upper back (a natural curvature) or do you have an exaggerated kyphotic curve (common to swimmers), or a flat back, or even a lordotic curve in the thoracic?

Is the pain coming on when you try to curve over the upper back once your hips have hinged into the forward chair-modified bend?

What happens if you use pillows to reduce the curve angle of the thoracic spine initially (reduced pain? reduced lock up?). If there is reduced pain with a reduction in the curve angle (because of the pillow bolstering), then perhaps you would gently restore curve to the upper back. Going to a doctor can get you examined and form a diagnosis*, if not a treatment.

What are the pains like, dull or sharp (sharp pains are nerves being effected by compression, dull pain is often muscular strain)?

Do you have an interior view of the discs or some family history of congenital fusion? There are conditions that cause the discs to begin to slide up and over each other. I have met a women using the chair-modified uttanasana (in conjunction with other stretches) for spondylolisthesis. There are also degenerative diseases... have you gone to a doctor to start diagnosing this? Pain is an indicator.

No traumic event was mentioned, so without a congenital or disease cause, it sounds like your assessment of sitting too much may indeed be the candidate. This makes me think the natural curve of the upper thoracic (the kyphotic one) is gone and the upper back is very straight (what does the Mrs. say?). The ability to naturally, gently curve in the thoracic spine can be restored by gently re-peating the chair-modified uttanasana, only increasing the angle a little each time (when ready and as a sharp-pains-free stretch) and being sure to breath deeply and to keep the forward bend out of any sharp pain causing depth. Also, stay hydrated. The spine is built on fluid sacs, so being constantly dehydrated challenges the body's ability to keep bursa and discs inflated well, (causes some desiccation and relative shrinking).

Also, do you have developed muscle in the thoracic area where your pain is (i.e., when you do chaturanga asana, do you use the back's rhomboids primarily, or are your shoulders (deltoids) doing all the work)?
______
*An MRI would not necessarily indicate a cause (many many people have bulged and compressed discs and never report pain, and on the basis of significant bodies of such MRI data, surgery-as-a-solution is increasingly being scrutinized as perhaps unnecessary when there are remediating therapies (the field of physical therapy could be helped along by applying long slow deep breathing and longer-held stretches (two minutes)).