My precious gardening back went out last spring when i was in handstand class at the circus school. My back (my sacro-iliac joint, to be specific) had been sending me warning signals for a couple of months. It turned out my problem was too much bending forward.
The physical therapist now has me doing lots of back bends. When i go to yoga class, i don't do any of the bend-forward positions (cat-cow, downward-facing dog, happy baby, etc.) I only do back bends, like upward-facing dog, sphinx, cobra, bridge, fish, and camel.
The ache in my back is very minimal now, but the physical therapist assures me it can be totally zeroed out. At my last appointment, she asked what my pain level was, on a scale of zero to ten. "It's not really pain," i said. "It's a twinge. Maybe about point five." Then she asked me to do upward-facing dog. She asked about pain level again. "Oh, maybe point three," i said.
That's when i noticed that the exercises do make a difference. This is the effect of mindfulness--noticing even these minute changes.
I'm a very haphazard exerciser. Oh, the exercises don't make that much difference, i think to myself. But now, i see/feel that even the tiny difference from .5 to .3 is a difference.Mindfulness of this tiny improvement gives me more confidence in my exercises.
Mindfulness of the tiny improvement meditation makes in our life gives us more faith in the value of meditation.