Yoga

5 Yoga Poses to Heal Your Lower Back Pain

Chronic lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor. This pain is usually caused by lifestyle habits, like working long hours at a desk job or sitting with poor posture on the couch after. The good news is, you can relieve your back pain and completely heal your lower back with yoga! To do this, you need to do poses that stretch out your lower backs and target your hamstrings and hips. But don’t just accept the explanation—try out this 5-pose sequence yourself!

1. Marjariasana (Cat-Cow)

This is the simplest pose of the sequence, and the best to do if you only have time for one posture. Cat-Cow stretches your spine both ways and gets it warmed up for the rest of the sequence.

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To Do This Pose

Start in a table top position with your shoulders over your wrists, hips over your knees, and fingers spread wide. As you inhale, go into ‘cow’ position by lifting your head and tailbone and letting your belly drop toward the floor. As you exhale, come into ‘cat’ position by pulling your abdomen up, rounding your spine toward the ceiling and tucking your chin in toward your chest.

Continue to synchronize these movements with your breath, or spend a few extra breaths in ‘cow,’ as this really helps to open the lower back. Take 5-10 breaths here, and then proceed to the next pose.

2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

This ‘classic’ yoga pose is a great posture for lower back pain as it targets the hamstrings—which are often tight in those with lower back pain, the back extensors—or the large muscles on your lower back, and it allows you to lengthen and stretch out your entire spine.

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To Do This Pose:

From table top, tuck your toes and begin to straighten your legs and lift your hips, coming into a triangle shape. Move your hands forward slightly if you need to. If you feel back pain beyond a gentle stretch, or if your spine rounds due to short hamstrings, try bending your knees. Stay here for 10 breaths, and then proceed to the next pose.

3. Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

This pose can be a savior for those whose back pain is caused by tight hips. Pigeon pose targets the hip flexors, iliopsoas muscles, and hip rotators, which when tight can all contribute to a stiff and sore lower back.

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To Do This Pose:

From Adho Mukha Svanasana, bring your right knee behind your right wrist, with your right foot either touching your right hip flexor or placed slightly forward. Stretch your left leg out behind you, with the top of your foot, shin, and thigh in contact with the floor. Keep your torso lifted, using your hands for support, or for a deeper stretch, walk you hands in front of you, lowering your torso to the floor. Stay here for 15 breaths, then return to downward facing dog and repeat on the other side.

4. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Having short, tight hamstrings is something that many who suffer with lower back pain have in common. This pose will both lengthen your hamstrings and release your lower back.

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To Do This Pose:

From downward facing dog, walk your feet toward your hands and the top of your mat, and come to a standing position. Bring your feet to hips distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and fold your torso over your thighs, touching your belly to your legs if possible. Allow your arms to hang toward the floor, or grab your elbows with opposite arms. Let your head hang freely. Stay here for 15 breaths and then proceed to the next pose.

5. Supine Twist

This relaxing pose will release your lower back and increase overall spinal flexibility at the same time.

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To Do This Pose:

Slowly lower yourself down from standing until you are lying on your back. Hug your knees to your chest, and then slowly lower your knees to your right side, so that your right leg is resting on the floor and your left leg is stacked on top of the right. Keeping both of your shoulders in contact with the floor, extend your arms out along side you and turn your face to your left side. Stay here for 5 breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.

If you like, you can finish your practice by taking deep, relaxing breaths in Savasana (corpse pose) or Balasana (child’s pose), both of which will lengthen and relax the spine.

Do this sequence regularly for the best results—your lower back will thank you!

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