Yoga Modifications for Harrington Rod


Image by CarynNL via Flickr

Monday, June

Today I did the Ultimate Stretch Workout. The modifications I made were in Ultimate Stretch Series Part Two.

Halasana – Plow pose – while I was able to do plow pose when I was younger; it took some practice to be able to do it and my rod made it difficult to come out of the pose. Currently, I will not attempt it until I am stronger, and have a spotter to help me get out of the pose. I don’t want any injuries.  🙂

In place of plow I am doing lunges. Not a substitute for plow, but I need to incoprporate them into my daily practice.

Here is a great review of Halasana in Yoga Journal, complete with photo, beginners’ tips, modifications, etc.

Urdhva Dhanurasana – The other modification I make for myself in the second series is – I do not do Wheel pose, instead I do the modification in the video.


I did the Sa Re Sa Sa meditation (practicing daily until the June 15 Full Moon), instead of the Guru Ram Das meditation on the DVD.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shirin68
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 22:34:31

    Are you still active? I too have a Harrington rod with spinal fusion to L3, performed in 1984. Everything had been fine until I began having pain in my lower back this past summer. Suspecting it may have to do with my surgery, I did some research online and discovered flatback syndrome. I have since been to a chiropractor who took x-rays and confirmed lack of lordosis with a 25% curve remaining, as well as hip slippage. He wants to work with me and says he feels optimistic we can improve my situation, but everything I read seems to point to surgery as the only option as the condition degenerates over time. I stumbled across your blog looking for something, ANYTHING, as an alternative to corrective surgery. I can’t imagine going through that again. I have never practiced yoga but would be very interested if it could control the progression of this. Are you still having success?


    • satsiri
      Feb 02, 2013 @ 08:54:02

      Dear Shirin68,
      Thank you for your message, I apologize for my late reply as I missed the notification. Of course I only speak from my experience as I am not a Healthcare Provider and not offering advice. I had a consult with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in corrective surgery for FBS to learn more and find out if there was new Physical Therapy or what I could do, because my FBS was progressing quickly. Darrel Hanson, MD told me that the surgery was so ‘barbaric’ that he would only perform it on me if I could no longer stand up. He said there is always new PT, however all his patients tell him that what helps them the most is yoga, and that his patients try everything. Yoga was the Rx he gave me for my stage FBS. At that time, I had become lacsidasial about my yoga and walking routines for several years, spending that time in seated meditation practice instead. the lack of exercise and prolonged sitting led to becoming deconditioned and I began leaning forward, typical of FBS, with increased pain. It was scary. I renewed my yoga practice and I am very grateful. I still meditate, but for shorter lengths of time. I also set a timer for 30 minutes when ever I am just hanging out at home, so I’ll get up and walk around, do a chore, because any prolonged sitting has poor effect on my back. I know that Yoga and walking are a life long commitment to manage the effect of the surgery I had many years answer you question, yes, I am still having success and I wish you all the best.


      • shirin68
        Feb 04, 2013 @ 11:10:12

        Thank you very much for responding! I had always thought yoga was an activity I couldn’t practice because of my lack of proper mobility due to the spinal fusion. You say you find walking manages the condition? Walking was always my go-to exercise of choice, but since my back has started acting up, even short and easy walks give me a lot of pain. I will push through it if walking is a favorable activity to manage the problem. Thanks again for your input.

      • Stacey Wilson
        Jul 15, 2017 @ 14:43:03

        Greetings! Dr. Hanson is the same orthopedic surgeon I last saw. I assume you are in Houston. Can you please tell me where I can find a place to do yoga to help my FBS? I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

  2. satsiri
    Feb 04, 2013 @ 11:39:44

    What helps me manage my FBS are walking, yoga & meditation, and massage therapy – I need all of these things. My muscles atrophy; they get weak and hard as rock. Your physician can tell you if your pain is muscular in nature or related to nerve, disc or other issue. I would consult with your physician prior to starting an exercise program. My spine is fused from T9-L4, some yoga poses I can’t do, but you’d be surprised how many I can do, and there are modifications for the ones I can’t do. When I first started to resume yoga practice, about 2-3 years after surgery. If I sat on the floor, with my legs extended straight out in front of me, I could not sit up at a 90 degree angle to my legs. I would be leaning backwards at a 30 degree angle. Now I am able to bring my chest to my thighs. So, some inflexibility is muscular due to deconditioning and some is structural from the fusion and harware implantation. I have to take it slowly to not injure myself. I wish you all the best.


  3. Jeanne Maguire
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 14:45:10

    Hello shirin and satsiri. Just wanted to offer another exercise alternative with yoga. I have a full spinal fusion, from T2 down to L3, where the original two 40 degree curves are now fused at 15 to 20 degrees. Though the fusion presented no complications in my 20’s and 30’s, my activity during those years resulted in deteriorated discs above and below the fusion. Hence my later years were not so kind to me and I’ve struggled for over a decade to find an exercise where I could strengthen my core and not pop ribs and immobilize myself afterwards. With physical therapy, ortho massages and acupuncture keeping me safe and sane, I have finally discovered that pilates tables and aqua exercise seems to be the only way I can now, in my 50s, successfully partake in any core building, weight bearing exercise. (A steroid shot helps me make it through the cold winter months.)


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