Yoga Poses for Back Pain

Whether you sit at a desk eight hours a day or lift heavy objects regularly, back pain is a common disability that many people will experience at least once in their life.

Fortunately, there are several yoga poses that can help alleviate your pain and strain to keep you upright and feeling great. By practicing at least one or maybe all of these poses several times a week, you may find that your back pain is more manageable or disappears completely.

1. Downward facing dog

Down Dog is an amazing pose to stretch out the entire back body and restore your body’s balance after a long night’s rest. Come into this pose by starting on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes, lift your hips high, and straighten your legs by pressing your thighs back. Generally, our hamstrings can be really tight in the morning so it’s okay if you put a slight bend in the knees to alleviate any initial tension you may feel. Be sure your hands are pressing down firmly into the mat to create a sensation that you are lifting up out of the ground and away from your shoulders. Keep your neck soft and relaxed and let your head hang.

2. Child’s pose

Ahh, one of my most favorite resting poses. While you’re on all fours, you can either bring your feet and knees together or keep your knees wide apart with your feet still together. Sitting back on your heels, fold your stomach over your legs and rest your forehead on the mat. You can either let your arms rest comfortably by your sides, or actively extend them on the mat in front of your head with all fingers rooting down firmly on the ground.

3. Cat/cow

Performing a series of cat/cow reps will give your spine the perfect combination of flexion and extension to enable the back to have optimal mobility. Starting on your hands and knees, you begin cow by rounding out the back with the hands and knees rooting down into the mat. The stomach pushes back into the spine, creating a nice hollow space in the front body. As you create a deep flexion in the spine keep your head down and your neck relaxed.

To come into cow lift your head up, create space in your shoulders and collarbone, and press your pelvis forward, arch your back, and lift your sitting bones up. Remember to keep rooting down into your hands and knees.

Repeat cat/cow several times.

4. Forward fold

Stand with your feet parallel, hip width distance apart. Place your hands on your hips and start to hinge at your hips with a flat back as you fold forward over the legs. From here let your head, neck and arms hang loosely, surrendering to gravity. If you experience a tight sensation in your hamstrings, simply bend your knees slightly to alleviate any tension.

5. Upward facing dog

Beginning in a plank, lower down into chaturanga. Keeping your hips and thighs off the floor, extend your chest toward the ceiling by pressing the palms of your hands and tops of your feet into the mat firmly. With arms now fully extended and the upper body lifted up off the floor, press your shoulders down away from your ears and gaze up slightly to open up your chest and create extension in the spine and upper back.

6. Legs up the wall

Legs up the wall is a great way to release tension in the lower back. Simply bring either your right or left hip to the base of a wall, lay on your back and start to rotate your legs up the wall. If there’s any space between your sitting bones and the wall, scoot up until you feel the wall against them. Straighten your legs and relax your arms by your side.

Remember, when stretching your back it’s important to know your limits and avoid injury. Read here for tips of how to avoid back injury during yoga and practice safely whilst protecting your back.

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Jaimee Ratliff

Jaimee Ratliff is a writer, traveler, yogi and passionate advocate for living a life you love. She can be found writing on all things travel and inspiration over at This Way North. Jaimee is also the author of Party of One: An Inspirational Guide to Letting Go of Fear and Loving Solo Travel.