Yoga Poses for Back Pain: How-to, Tips, Benefits, Images, Videos
One of the most common problems we see at the studio is back pain. There are all kinds of causes. Sometimes it's an old sports injury. Sometimes you just moved a box the wrong way. It can even be something as simple as sitting at a desk all day long. Whether the origins are some acute injury or long-term stress, there are a few simple poses that can help (for acute injuries in particular, it's good to check with your doctor for more detailed instruction).
Something to keep in mind throughout all your yoga -- breathe deeply, and match your moving with your breathing. If you can breathe slowly, easily, with attention -- your moving can be the same. When handling injuries, this is especially important. The muscles around an injury, and even radiating throughout your body, will tighten to defend and compensate. This may protect against further injury, but can prolong or even prevent complete healing. It takes time and patience to let these muscles release. In the case of back pain, giving time for your muscles to release can allow your vertebrae and discs to align properly, and healing to proceed more easily. If something hurts, back off. Just breathe, move slowly, and pay attention.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand with your feet parallel, hip width apart. Fold forward over your legs, allowing your back, arms, and neck to release toward the ground. [Suggested modifications for back pain: 1) hold opposite elbows to provide some added weight / traction; 2) lightly interlace fingers behind neck to provide some added weight / traction (don't pull)] More on Standing Forward Bend >>
Cow Face Pose
From hands and knees, cross one knee behind the other, and rest it outside of the opposite calf. Keep the back knee pressed forward, widen your ankles out to the sides, and lower your hips to sit down between your heels. More on Cow Face Pose >>
Want to open up your back and chest without a struggle? A supported bridge is an easy way to relax while releasing your spine in some great new directions. Lie down on your back, feet planted behind your hips, knees up. Lift your hips up to a comfortable level, and place a block under your... More on Supported Bridge Pose >>
Lie down on your back with arms alongside your body, and bring knees into your chest. With legs either bent or straight [suggested modification for the back: keep the knees bent, thighs close to chest]... More on Plow Pose >
Reclining Eagle Twist
Lie down flat on your back. Lift both knees up, bringing your feet right behind your hips. Keeping one foot on the ground, lift your other foot and wrap that leg over and around your resting leg. Hook the foot of your lifted leg behind the calf of the resting leg. More on Reclining Eagle Twist >>
Supported Spine Opener
Sit upright with legs straight in front of you. Place one block lengthwise behind your hips on its medium height. Keeping your hips on the ground, roll slowly back to lie.. More on Supported Spine Opener >>
Reclining Half Ankle to Knee Pose
Tension in your hips and lower back go together. This one helps with both. Remember there's no need to force anything, just go easy with your breath and your body will open... More on Reclining Half Ankle to Knee >>
Reclining Knee to Chest Pose
This is a simple, easy start for releasing tension in your hips and back. We all hold strength and stress a bit differently on each side of our body, so expect to feel a little different from left to... More on Reclining Knee to Chest Pose >>
Reclining Single Leg Twist
This pose gives a good release for the lower back, and is a great opener for the muscles around your ribs. For endurance athletes, the... More on Reclining Single Leg Twist Pose >>
Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala Yoga, along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard University and complementary medicine at the University of Oxford. Taylor has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years.
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