“Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide”[1]

Back pain affects 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives[2], and on average health care expenditures for individuals with back pain have been estimated to be about 60% higher than those without.[3] In overall dollar terms, Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain.[4]

Those are impressive statistics.  As a super active, life-long athlete and professional yoga teacher, I never thought I’d be part of those statistics, but I am.

My process looked like this: Denial, anger, acceptance, resolve, hopelessness, more anger, blah blah blah.  You get the idea. At one point I had spent a few thousand dollars on various doctors and body workers.  Despair began to gnaw at me.  It seemed nothing was working.

It wasn’t until I rededicated myself to the full scope of a consistent Yoga Tune Up® practice that I was finally able to move normally again. My own (ongoing) recovery journey has its own Sankalpa and it sounds like this:

  • I accept that I’ve got “a few back things going on”
  • I am über-conscientious and unremitting in my posture: I sit differently, I stand and walk differently, I sleep differently and yes, I practice yoga and exercise differently.

Because of the looming threat of pain and because I don’t wish to take medications or undergo surgery, I am never “off.”  I am never slumped over in my chair at my computer. I am determined to restructure my body to be better, stronger and more stable. Those who know me see the changes; it’s working.

I’m not claiming to be as nimble as I used to be and I’m not saying that my back doesn’t still hurt sometimes, because it does.  However, now I can kick a soccer ball and referee my son’s games.   I am thrilled to finally feel solid enough to resume commuting around New York City by bike.  I can also take yoga classes again, but here’s the kicker:  I limit my range of motion.  These days when I exercise or practice yoga my primary goal is to “do no harm.” That means no more nose-to-knee straight leg forward bends, no more full wheels and no more ego-driven twists. My motivation to “drop back” or wrap my leg around my neck is long gone.  This type of movement just doesn’t serve my body well at this point in my life.

You know what’s so great about this blog?  My pain story is not so unique.  Over the last several years, I have participated in, assisted and taught many different YTU classes, privates, workshops, immersions and teacher trainings. There’s a whole bunch of super smart people who are tuning themselves back into balance and normalcy with this practice.  I’m a big fan. The entire YTU practice is indispensable but Jill’s Self Massage for Lower Back video (posted below) is one of my all-time favorite quickies for an aching back at the end of a long day.

What’s yours?

Watch our Quickfix video for upper back pain.

Watch our Quickfix video for lower back pain.

Learn about our Therapy Ball Programs

[1] The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, The Lancet, published Dec 13, 2012

[2] Medline Plus. Back Pain. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/backpain.html.

[3] Mehra M, Hill K, Nicholl D, Schadrack J. “The burden of chronic low back pain with and without a neuropathic component: a healthcare resource use and cost analysis.” J Med Econ. 2011 Dec 5.

[4] Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research

Dinneen Viggiano

An experienced Therapeutic Movement & Back Pain Specialist with 18 years’ experience, Dinneen offers classes, workshops, trainings and online programming to optimize nutrition, improve mobility and Retrain Back Pain®. As a Senior Teacher Trainer for Tune Up Fitness® & Roll Model® Method, Dinneen travels the globe leading professional trainings. She is also a NeuroKinetic & CranioSacral Therapist and a Certified Health and Nutrition Counselor. www.dinneenviggiano.com

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I’m glad that you shared your story about back pain and changing your goals in yoga practice as I can certainly identify with you! It’s wonderful to be able to watch Jill Miller’s videos online; they’ve been tremendously helpful. I love my tune-up balls!

Sabrina godoy

Thanks for shearing, I realized that my life made a big change when I started to listen and be friendly with myself.
Work for me and not again me.


I think that it is important to listen to our bodies, especially through the transition of time. What we could do in our twenties is not necessarily going to work in our forties or beyond. Acceptance and self-awareness are ways in which we can safely adapt our bodies to make effective changes. Pain can remind us that change is needed at some level. Yoga tune up balls and exercises are tools we can use to heighten our self-awareness and begin to look at new ways of doing things.

Jamie Saltmarsh

Thanks for including Jill Miller’s video using the Yoga Tune Up Roll Model Balls. I used to have significant lower back pain while sitting on airplanes. I have been placing the balls behind my back while sitting on airplanes and I have not experienced any back pain. I’ll add the techniques from the video after I arrive at my destination. The Yoga Tune Up Roll Model Balls are now the first thing that I pack!


Thanks for sharing your story. So often, we overdo because we can, until suddenly we can’t. It’s hard sometimes to allow ourselves to take a step back, to “accept that I have a few ___ things going on” and then actually embrace that by changing up our habits or routines or whatever we need to do to get healthy. You’re a great role model, thank you!

Julie Rosier

Dinneen, Great article. I love the part about how you are Uber conscientious about how you move. I think healing from injury requires a lot of self awareness and often self restraint. It is difficult to pay attention. But you have shown how effective it can be. The YTU balls are so much more effective when you are not constantly re-injuring yourself by doing all the “wrong movements for your body. Keep up the great work!

Angela Yonkovich

Dinneen, Thank you for sharing your experience. Your article has reminded that due to my scoliosis my back in a work in progress every day and cannot afford to take the day off! You have motivated me to have a Sankalpa specifically for my back!
Thank you!


Well the statistics are certainly familiar. I can relate to this article so much, and I appreciate that it’s ok to give ourselves permission to listen to our body and not do anything that causes pain. 2 years ago when I started practicing yoga on a regular basis, I was a little disappointed that my body couldn’t do the full expression of a lot of poses, and felt like I wouldn’t be a good yoga teacher. But I learned that a good yoga teacher recognizes when not to push it and that it’s ok to modify any pose. I also… Read more »