Yoga is a great way to work out, but some yoga poses can also benefit people with back pain. Yoga focuses on flexibility and strength, which is why doctors often recommend it to improve your overall health. Yoga can help you build strength in your back while also increasing flexibility.
The downward facing dog is a great way to stretch the back and strengthen the arms, legs, and core.
To do this pose:
- Start on your hands and knees with your feet hip-width apart.
- Make sure your hands are directly underneath your shoulders and that the tops of your feet are flat on the floor (or propped up against a wall).
- If you’re uncomfortable resting on your palms, try putting some padding or towels under them before getting started. This will help prevent wrist discomfort from holding onto all that weight for too long.
Now lift into an inverted “v” shape with legs straight as you slowly bend forward over one leg at a time until you feel a deep stretch in both hamstrings (back of thighs) as well as calves (back lower leg muscles). If this position causes pain in either knee joint, then modify by bending both knees slightly instead so they stay parallel throughout this exercise.
Pigeon Pose: This is an excellent pose for targeting your lower back, but it can also be used to decompress the spine.
How to do it: Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Bring one knee forward towards the center of the mat while simultaneously reaching back with the other leg. Hold for up to three minutes, then repeat on the opposite side. Place shin or thigh down (depending on flexibility) and bring forehead to floor or rest on top of arms if you’re more comfortable in that position.
A bridge pose is a great way to stretch your back and shoulders, improving posture and less tension in the upper body.
To perform a bridge pose:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Use 5-10 pounds of weight (a rolled-up towel or blanket) under each hip if you need extra support.
- Lift your hips off the floor until they form a straight line from knees to shoulders; keep your legs active, so they don’t just hang there like dead weights!
Hold for 10-15 breaths before coming out of it slowly by lowering yourself down one vertebra at a time until you are lying flat again.
Bow pose is an excellent stretch for the hamstrings. It’s one of my favorite poses to hit my tightest spots. The primary muscle being stretched in this pose is the hamstrings, which are located on your backside and help bend your knees. If you have tight hamstrings (which many people do), it can cause pain in your knees, lower back, and hips.
Bow pose can also be good for stretching out your lower back muscles because it opens up the spine by extending through the top of the legs and lengthening through the abdomen (front torso). To increase or decrease the intensity of this pose, go down slowly until you feel a good stretch where you want it most, then hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on how flexible you are or how intense of a stretch you’re looking for.
Seated twists are a great way to relieve lower back pain and muscle tension in the middle of your body. The seated twist is a gentle spinal twist that can be done independently or as part of a flow sequence.
Precautions: If you have chronic neck or upper back issues, talk to your doctor before attempting this pose.
How to do it:
- Sit tall on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you and feet together.
- Clasping both hands under one leg, bring it across your body toward the opposite side, bending at the knee with hips in alignment so that they remain level during the twist (you may want to hold onto something for balance). Twist as comfortably as possible, then slowly return to the center (or farther if desired) before switching sides for round two!
While rising, the spine is straightened and curved in a downward position. This can help improve posture and bring more flexibility to your back.
How to do it:
- Lie face down on the floor with arms straight by your sides.
- Place palms on the floor with fingers facing forward.
- Raise by lifting the chest and head off the ground while keeping hips on the floor at all times (or close to it).
Hold this pose for 30 seconds before releasing back onto the mat or letting arms rest by the side as a modification if needed (no pressure!). Repeat three times per day every day!
This is a fundamental yoga pose that stretches the spine. Lie on your belly and place your hands under your shoulders, palms facing up. Bend your knees and bring them in line with your hips, so they are directly below the torso while keeping ankles together, and toes pointed straight toward each other.
Inhale as you lift the head, neck, chest, and backs of arms toward the ceiling; exhale as you round over from waist to tailbone—like a child’s cat arching its back—and then return to starting position by pulling the navel toward the spine (cow). Repeat five times for one set; hold each repetition for five seconds or longer if possible (up to 10 seconds).
The poses listed here may help with back pain but are not a substitute for medical treatment. Suppose you are dealing with chronic back pain that is not improving despite trying these poses.
In that case, it’s essential to get in touch with your doctor or professional Yoga school to determine the cause of your discomfort and ways in which it can be addressed.
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