Back pain is a very common complaint. And it’s no surprise. In today’s society, we spend so much time sitting and putting strain on our lower back. Regardless of the cause, back pain is debilitating. You can't move, breathing is difficult, work is near impossible and your stress levels will elevate. I know, I've been there. After a terrible car accident, I thought my life was over. Not only did I happen to get fractures in my neck, but also compression damage to my spine. With physiotherapy, the injuries healed (to an extent), but my range of motion was depleted and the pain was still there. I talked to my doctor and with some research (plus my own experience), I found six yoga poses that really helped ease the pain in my back and increase my flexibility. Please keep in mind to speak with your doctor before trying any of these poses, for risk of further injury.
Cat Stretch/Cow Tilt
Why: This pose warms up the spine and increases flexibility in the neck, shoulders and back.
How: From Tabletop position; inhale, expanding your belly toward the floor and tilt your head back, lift your gaze upward. As you exhale, curl your spine, push your belly button toward your spine and scoop your tailbone. Place your chin to your chest. Continue this motion as you inhale and exhale, expanding your belly with the inhale, and curling your spine with the exhale.
Locust Pose/Bow Pose
Why: Locust strengthens the muscles in the lower back and is great for posture.
How: From laying on your belly, arms at sides. Extend your legs behind you, hip-width apart. Inhale and raise your head, looking forward. As you exhale, lift your chest and arms, palms facing the ground. Lift your upper body, reaching your hands back toward your feet, roll your shoulders back. Use thigh muscles to raise your legs. Stay for a breath and on your next exhale, lower your body.
Bow is the same kind of back bend, only it's a little deeper and you bend your knees and your hands come back and grab your ankles. If this pose is too much for you, stay in Locust.
Why: This pose decreases lower back pain by stretching the muscles, increases flexibility and circulation in back muscles, joints and disks.
How: From Tabletop position, exhale and lower your hips to your heels and lower your forehead to the floor. Keep the hands and arms engaged and active, and shoulders back. Stay here for a few breaths to get the full benefits of this pose.
Why: This pose will stretch your spine, legs and core muscles.
How: Bring your feet wide apart. Bring one foot to the top of your mat, toes pointed forward, and the other foot parallel to the back of your mat. Raise arms to shoulder height, parallel to the ground, palms down. Exhale and reach the hand that is in line with the front of the mat. Fold at your hip, do not let your torso drop forward. Rest your hand on your shin or a block and turn your gaze upward looking at the thumb of your opposite hand. Stay here for a breath and on your next inhale, straighten the body. Remember to take the same pose on the opposite leg.
Why: Pigeon Pose stretches your back while opening the hips.
How: From Tabletop position, bring your left leg under your left wrist. Bring your right leg back, straightening the knee, and point the toes. Keep your hips square. As you inhale, roll your shoulders back and lift upper body, opening the chest. As you exhale, walk your hands forward and lower your upper body to the floor. You can rest your hands on your forearms or floor. Stay here for a few minutes, then repeat with the opposite leg.
Legs Up Wall Pose
Why: A pose that’s good for the body and mind! This relaxing pose helps decrease stress, reduce pain in the back, decrease leg swelling and increase blood circulation.
How: Come to a seat at the side of the wall with your legs outstretched. Exhale and lay on your back. Engage your core muscles and lift legs, flex feet. Pivot the body so that your legs are touching the wall and bring your sit bones in as close as you can, creating a 90 degree angle. Relax your neck and place your hands at your sides or on your belly, whatever is more comfortable for you. Stay here for a few moments to get the full benefit of this pose.
About the Author
April Theberge is a YogaClub ambassador who has been practicing yoga since her teenage years. In 2012 she was in a terrible car accident where she broke the c2-3 in her spine. Once she healed she began practicing yoga daily. April is currently enrolled in a YTT-200 so she can teach yoga.