Do you have any yoga poses to ease lower back pain?

Probably one of the top questions I get asked. Or, what should I do to relieve my back pain?

Move”… is the easy answer.
Move every hour, move at least half an hour per day, every single day, go for walks, dance, do some simple stretches in the morning, in the evening, … move!

The lower back or the lumbar region can be an area that gets super sensitive for too many of us. Affecting our moods and our days.
And, as it hurts so much, we tend to move less. Moving less will make our muscles more stiff, our bodies less strong and basically, our spines weaker, creating even more pain.

Not moving is not the answer, trust me on that one. Yes, you may “feel” the spine after you have done some movement and you can even be stiff after a yoga class but by no means is this an indication nor an invitation to stop moving.

Yoga asanas can be a wonderful add on to your other activities, making your body stronger, more flexible and it might ease lower back pain and relieve that irritating dull ache.

How to start?

JUST BREATHE

Consider a simple breathing exercise to get you going.
Simply observing the breath whilst you are counting to 10 to settle into a nice and gentle practice. It will help you to calm the mind a bit and increase your focus.
Long deep breaths through your nose.

Counting the breaths, from 1 to 10. When you loose count or get distracted, smile (!) and start over.

When you feel your mind has calmed a bit, you can start with the poses or asanas.
If feeling is not your thing and/or your mind is rather busy, do 3 rounds of counting 10 breaths.

yoga retreat morocco

In some environments, focus is easy.

HAPPY BELLY

With a love for Kundalini yoga and traditional Chinese medicine, it is not that bizarre that I have developed a slight obsession for our navel center.
Referring to a point that is 2-3 inches below the belly button. Most of my lessons on the Revealing Vajra Yoga Retreats will start with a focus on this area.

What you do is making circles: gently pushing the belly button out, pushing it towards the right, pulling it back towards the spine, to the left and continuing making those circles. Adding nice long breaths and observing where you feel what.
After several rounds, you reverse the movement towards the other side.

CAT COW

A very basic movement but one with incredible benefits for our spines.

cat on yoga mat

Adding an actual cat is optional…

Start on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.

Inhale

Tilt your pelvis back so that your tail sticks up.

Let this movement ripple from your navel center and tailbone up your spine so that your neck is the last thing to move.

Take your gaze up gently up toward the ceiling or remain in a neutral position, whatever you do, do not crank your neck, there is absolutely no need for that.

Exhale

Tip your pelvis forward, tucking your tailbone. Once again, using your navel center.

Your spine will naturally round.

Draw your navel toward your spine.

Drop your head.

Look down.

Repeat the cat-cow stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement to your own breath.

Continue for 5-10 breaths, moving the whole spine.

Just doing this very simple cat cow exercise might already ease lower back pain.

CHILD’S POSE

Lower your knees and shins to the floor and fold your torso forward coming into Child’s Pose. You can keep your knees together or separate them to increase the stretch in your lower back and hips.
Either extend your arms out in front of you, rest them beside your legs or, in between your legs.
Close your eyes and hold this pose for ten breaths or longer.

child pose partner yoga

Balasana, passenger is optional

DOWNWARD FACING DOG

This pose needs no introduction for most of us. Lengthen through your spine and relax your head, relax your shoulders.
Stay for as many breaths as you like, let’s say, at least five, breathing deeply.

downward facing dog yoga peacock

Downward facing dog, wondering peacock is optional

DOLPHIN PLANK

In general, people with a strong core, will have less risk of injuring their spine. Whether you’re talking to your pilates instructor, yoga teacher or physio therapist, they will mostly agree on this point.

Plank might be too much or too intense so you could take your chances with the dolphin plank.

Start on hands and knees.

Lean on your elbows and walk your knees towards the back of your mat.

Stretch your legs.

Inhale.

Exhale, come into a plank, on your elbows. Don’t sink too deep, feel all your muscles engaging and working.

Inhale, push your weight back and go back into dolphin pose.

dolphin plank pose

Repeat five or ten times to start, you can build it up to a 100 🙂

ROCK THE WALL

If you have a wall in your house, you have found a new friend! The wall is a brilliant tool to ease lower back pain really easily. This pose is fantastic after a day of sitting.

Put your hands on the wall, shoulder height and shoulder width.

Walk your feet backward, keep your hand firmly on the wall.
Stress and stretch. If you have tight hamstrings, you will feel them here and if your ‘back is stiff’, you will feel a serious stretch.

Be nice, be gentle, find your appropriate edge and stay in here as long as feels right.

If feeling is complicated for whatever reason, stay for 10 breaths.

GENTLE TWISTS

Twists will help to open the chest, shoulders and back and can help to ease lower back pain. Begin a twist by slowly inhaling and lengthening your spine.

Twist as you exhale slowly, starting from your navel center and twisting upwards to the neck. With each breath in, gently lengthen your spine further.
Picture the spine stretching upward. With each breath out, gently twist a tiny bit deeper into the movement. It is important to not twist beyond discomfort or pain.

MAKE SURE TO DO IT RIGHT!

How to do yoga poses correctly could bring us to very tricky territory. A territory that is beyond the intention of this particular blog post.

This post is written for people who have followed yoga classes before and who are familiar with the poses described. I mention them here as a reminder of what you can do to ease lower back pain.

The invitation is there to follow classes with a teacher who has followed a significant amount of teacher trainings courses, including anatomy and yoga philosophy courses.
Anatomy as they will then know that every-body is different and understand the sense and nonsense about alignment. And yoga philosophy as they might then understand what yoga is really about.

For now, when you feel ‘something’ and there is no pain, you are doing it right.

Do share your experiences and let me know if you tried these yoga poses to ease your lower back pain, always interested in hearing your stories. Take good care of yourself, be nice to yourself and others, and listen to your Body!

Namaste,
Rachel

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