CAUTION: I should point out right from the start that this may not be ideal for everyone. I'm not suggesting for a moment that anyone with back problems should jump straight in to practising these sun salutations, and particularly as you see them here. I've been practicing Ashtanga yoga for five years and have experience working with my body, shifting my body weight effectively to reduce strain. Have a word with your doctor just as I did.
That explained a lot. I'd felt pain in my back, especially in winter, for a few years and had put it down to old injuries, a twist as I dropped my bike, a lousy mattress and eventually a fear that it might, just might, have something to do with my practice, that perhaps it wasn't helping or possibly even making an old injury worse.
As it turns out the Doctor was very please I was practicing yoga, suggested it was probably the best thing for at and said " ...in that case there's no need to send you to see the physio".
This is one of the reasons I've come back to Ashtanga. I find the Sury's seem to be helping and I want to spend time in up and downward dog after pretty much every asana (Krishnamacharya writes of long stays in both these asana). So I'm following the sequence again, Primary and 2nd. Still staying in some postures longer though and exploring the breath (kumbhaka etc) and occasionally adding some vinyasa Krama variations but otherwise it's pretty much standard Ashtanga.
Also I have Richard Freeman's workshop coming up end of the month and wanted to brush up my Ashtanga for that.
So in the video, it's 6am, half hour after getting up and I can barely touch my toes on the first one (no hamming it up for the camera here, from the frount you could see me grimace). I'm stepping back and stepping forward and coming to a squat to come back up to standing. On the 5th (2minutes into the video) I'm getting a slight forward bend and beginning to jump back. By the 10th (3:36) I'm getting a decent uttanasana, jumping back and a fair float back up to standing. Sets me up nicely for the rest of my morning practice.
Rest of my practice is OK, forward bends always a little painful but moving through upward and downward dog seem to keep me flexible and of course the heat of Ashtanga helps. I have an old knee injury so the warmth of the practice helps with my left knee also, Janu C, padmasana etc. Backbends are fine, in fact I find 2nd series a less troublesome practice all round.
Here's some basic info on Osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that isn't particularly degenerative and not actually a disease either, sounds worse than it is, will likely happen to us all sooner or later.
Osteoarthritis of the Spine (from HERE )
"Osteoarthritis of the spine (also called spondylosis) is a degenerative disease affecting the facet joints (spinal joints) and the intervertebral discs. Osteoarthritis usually doesn't begin until after the age of 45 and is the most common after the of age 60, but may occur at any age.
*Osteoarthritis is not to be confused with osteoporosis, in which the bones gradually become porous and brittle.
*Spondylosis is not to be confused with spondylolysis, which is a type of fracture of a part of a vertebra that may or may not lead to spondylolisthesis (slippage of the cracked vertebra over the one below it).
Osteoarthritis is a degeneration of the cartilage coating the ends of the bones in a joint. The spine, the hips, knees, hands or are common locations for osteoarthritis. In spinal osteoarthritis, the smooth articular cartilage coating the facet joints of the spine gradually deteriorates. The bones of the joints can't move smoothly over roughened cartilage, causing irritation and damage to the bone. Bone spurs may form.
Degeneration is also seen in the discs between the vertebrae. The discs lose some ability to absorb shock, as the water content of the discs decrease and the discs decrease in height. The degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae increases the risk of a herniated disc.
There is not usually any inflammation in the early stages of osteoarthritis of the spine. In advanced cases, bits of cartilage may break off and float around inside the joints. This can cause irritation to the soft tissues and inflammation may result. An x-ray can help determine if there are bone spurs or damage to the bones.
There are varying degrees of damage in spinal osteoarthritis, from mild cases without symptoms or with mild back pain, to advanced cases where the bones of the joints rub together. The amount of back pain does not always correlate with the damage to the spine. Symptoms may come and go for no apparent reason.
Spinal osteoarthritis can affect different areas of the spine. The locations can vary from person to person".