Yoga for Back Pain
Is your day limited by constant back pain? Back pain can occur for many reasons including bad posture, poor form when lifting objects, or injury. The number one tip for having a strong back is to have a strong core.
If you are suffering from back issues and want to alleviate the pain, try these effective poses below.
Cat Cow Tilts
Cat-cow tilts are a foundational yoga pose that is an opener for any practice. This stretches neck and spine, strengthen abdomen and arms.
- Begin on your hands and knees shoulder and hip distance apart respectively, and the tops of your feet on the floor.
- Align your wrists directly beneath your shoulders.
- Find a neutral pelvis neither ticking it nor arching your lower back.
- Spread your fingers wide grounding down through your thumb and index fingers.
- COW: Inhale, lift your sternum and arch your upper back, lifting your sitting bones toward the ceiling
- CAT: Exhale and externally rotate your arms, drop your head down as you round your upper back and draw your belly into your spine, gazing down at the floor or toward your navel.
Pigeon pose is a great full body stretching pose that increases elasticity in your arms, spine, thighs, calf muscles, shoulders, and hands. It also stretches and strengthens the muscles and joints in your legs, tones the muscles of the abdomen and chest, and increases blood circulation in the body. This is a great pose to reduce pain from sciatica, stiffness in the hips, back, and shoulders.
- Bend your right knee at a 45 degree angle flat on the mat
- Feet toward your left hip crease and toes flexed to protect the knee joint
- Left leg extended behind you with tops of toes flat on the mat
- Square the hips towards the front of your mat.
- If you feel stable, bring your torso down into a forward bend over your right leg.Keep hips square and weight balanced equally on both sides as best you can.
- Repeat the pose on the other side.
This is a preparatory or restorative posture to precede or follow any pose in the practice. The benefits of this pose include reducing stress and anxiety, aiding digestion, relieving back pain, and stretching the ankles, back, and hips.
- From downward facing dog, kneel on your hands and knees, hands planted shoulder width apart, Bring your toes together and your knees about hip distance apart, Sit your hips back onto your heels as you extend your torso forward, laying your stomach onto your thighs
- Let your shoulders round forward, allowing your forehead to rest gently on the mat
- Bring your arms by your sides with the palms of your hands facing upward
- Relax your facial muscles and jaw Avoid bringing your knees too far apart
- Hold for 5 breaths
- Begin by lying face-down on the floor with your legs extended behind you, hip-width apart.
- Keep your arms at your sides and your chin on the mat.
- Press the tops of your feet into the mat and spread your toes.
- Do not tuck your toes, as this can crunch your spine.
- Bring your arms up and rest your elbows under your shoulders with your forearms on the floor, parallel to each other.
- Point your middle fingers directly forward.
- On an inhalation, press your forearms into the floor and lift your head and chest off the floor.
- Press your pubic bone into the floor.
- Strongly engage your legs.
- Roll your outer thighs slightly toward the floor to help lengthen your low back.
- Keep your elbows tucked into your sides.
- Drop your shoulder blades down your back and draw your chest forward.
- Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.Let your face and eyes soften.
- Draw your chin toward the back of your neck.
- Gaze at your "third eye," the space between your eyebrows.
- Hold for up to 10 breaths.
- To release, exhale as you slowly lower your torso, chest, and head to the floor.
- Relax your arms at your sides.
- Turn your head to the side and rest quietly.
Baby Cobra is commonly used in a vinyasa flow sequence as a beginners variation to Upward Facing Dog. One of the best uses of this pose is to increase flexibility in the spine and back muscles. This will allow you to build the foundational strength needed to achieve more advanced back bend poses as you progress through your practice.
- Inhale, from either the Eight Point Salute or Chaturanga Dandasana, swing the upper body through your palms on the floor
- Keep the knees in place along with feet together or hip width apart
- Stretch the tops of your feet on the floor, toes pointing backwards
- Reach the chest up and forward
- Keep the elbows next to the torso
- Keep the shoulder blades back and down toward the sacrum
- Eyes focused on your third eye chakra
- Keep the mouth closed and the tongue on the soft palate
- Lift the palms off the floor and hold using your core and leg muscles
- Lie on your stomach, with your arms and legs extended straight behind you and your forehead resting on the floor,
- Press every toenail into the floor especially those of your pinky toes to encourage internal rotation in your legs,
- Inhale lift your head, chest, legs, and arms up off the floor,
- Continue to internally rotate your thighs by rolling your inner thighs toward the ceiling as your tailbone draws down toward your feet and your hip bones lift toward your belly button,
- Lengthen all four sides of your torso to help lift your sternum and shoulders away from the floor
Bridge pose is a Stretches neck, chest, spine, and hip flexors, calms mind and body, strengthens legs, and releases tension in upper and lower back
- Lie on your back
- Bend your knees so that they are directly over your ankles
- Feet should be hip distance apart and parallel
- Extend your arms along your sides with the palms facing up
- Deep the back of your head, your shoulder and your upper back on the floor as you press your heels down and lift your hips up
- Draw your tailbone down toward your knees to lengthen your lower back,
- Roll your shoulders underneath you one at a time
- Externally rotating your outer upper arms to open you upper back
- Draw your shoulder blades in toward your chest as you broaden across a collarbones
- Bring your chest toward your chin
- Lifting the chin to make space for the back of your neck
- Keep the natural curve of your cervical spine
- Find resistance between your knees so that your don't open too wide,
- Keep your feet firmly planted with the arches lifting, roll your inner thighs down toward the floor
Seated Spinal Twist
Sage's Pose is a helpful pose to improve flexibility in the spine and hip joints. With every exhale you are able to move deeper into the pose.
- Bring the knees into a cross legged position
- Position the right foot over the left leg with the sole of your right foot on the floor beside your left knee
- Keep your left leg close to your pelvis
- Place your right hand on the floor behind your right hip, fingers pointing back Inhale, lift your left arm toward the ceiling
- Exhale, twist from your spine to bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee If comfortable, wrap the right arm under the right knee and take hold of the left wrist in a bind
- Keep relaxing the shoulders and use the left arm to straighten the lower back Inhale twist to the front
- Exhale counter twist to the left Repeat on the right
Supine twist really helps to alleviate tension in the spine as well as massages the digestive organs. If you are experiencing lower back issues, place a blanket or a block underneath your top knee to avoid going into the full depth of the pose.
- Draw your bent knee in towards the chest
- Extend your straight leg
- Take the opposite hand over the knee and begin to twist keeping the free hand opened to the side
- Tuck the bottom hip under the top hip slightly so it is in line with the spine,
- Bend the elbow of the free hand creating a bit of a cactus arm and rooting the shoulder blade to the mat
- Inhale and find length between the shoulder and outer hip,
- Draw the ribs and navel in
- Exhale and twist a little bit more
- Engaging your feet by flexing can really help to stabilize the muscles in the abductors and outer hip
- Exhale release
- Inhale brings both knees into the chest and rest.
- If you are feeling more flexible, you can take the foot of your bent leg into your opposite hand for an additional stretch
- Exhale and twist
- Repeat on other side
Try out these poses and leave a comment below letting us know how it made you feel!