It used to be a common belief that back pain only happens during old age. But guess what? It’s now a common suffer even young adults.
One of the biggest culprits of back pain is constant sitting. We sit when we are at work, when we eat, when we drive etc.
This constant sitting leads to bad posture, reduce blood flow, high risk of a strained neck, and tight, short hip flexors. In a nutshell, it’s unhealthy.
In terms of our back health, all these factors cause us to have weak back muscles which show through symptoms in the form of back pain.
The good news is you can prevent and relieve back pain by doing exercises that soothe and strengthen back muscles. These exercises can be done through practicing healing yoga poses that target the back.
It’s time to take your back health into your own hands. Here are 6 yoga poses to strengthen and relieve back pain!
But First, Protect Your Back…
If you don’t have an extra thick yoga mat, we recommend you to get one! Extra thick means extra cushion and comfort for your hips and back when you perform these poses. Protecting your back while practicing yoga will help to prevent any future back pain.
1. Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Other than targeting your back muscles and relieving back pain, the Downward Dog Pose is also a full-body stretch that is quite energizing!
Start with hands and knees on the floor. Your knees should be placed directly below your hips and toes tucked under.
Place your hands slightly forward of your shoulders with your palms spread and index finger parallel or slightly turned out.
As you exhale, lift your knees off the floor and your hips towards the ceiling. While doing so, keep in mind to lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and lightly press it toward the pelvis.
Imagine creating a straight line from your head, back, and hips. Your body would know be making an inverted ‘V’ shape.
Exhale and stretch your heels down toward the floor. Be sure to straighten your knees, but don’t lock them.
Keep awareness in the firmness of your shoulder blades against your back. Your shoulder blades should be widened and drawn towards the tailbone.
Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute before releasing it.
2. Knees-to-Chest Pose (Apanasana)
If you’re experiencing lower back pain, the Knees-to-Chest pose is the solution for you. It helps to keep your lower back limber by stretching and stabilizing the pelvis and lower back.
Lay down on your back with your arms and legs extended.
Exhaling, draw both of your knees to your chest and wrap your hands around them. The best way to hold this position is to wrap your forearms over your shins. Use opposite hands to clasp each elbow.
As you remain in this position, always remember to keep your back flat on the mat. Try to lengthen your spine while drawing your tailbone and sacrum down towards the mat. Broaden your collarbones and release your shoulder blades down towards your waits.
You may tuck your chin slightly and gaze down the centerline of your body.
There are two options to do this pose. The first option is to stay still and hold this position. The second option is (if you’re comfortable) to rock gently side to side. This helps to give your spine a gentle massage. Keep your breathing even as you do so.
Hold this pose for one minute. Exhale to release and extend both legs on the floor and return to a neutral position.
3. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
The Half Lord of the Fishes Pose focuses on stretching and energizing the spine. It helps in opening the neck, shoulders, and spine which increases flexibility in the hips and spine. These are all the related muscle groups that are affecting your back pain.
Start in a seated position with both legs stretched out in front of you.
Next, bend your knees and place your right foot under your left leg. You should try to keep it close towards your butt and have the leg rest on the ground.
As for your left leg, gently pull it over the right leg. Your left leg should aim to be kept near your right hip closely while being planted on the ground.
Think of constantly lengthening your spine as you place your left hand on the ground behind your back. Imagine your spine, neck, and head all reaching towards the ceiling. Cross your right arm over your left leg to turn your whole upper body and face behind.
As you inhale, focus on drawing your belly towards your spine. Exhale to twist deeper into the pose. Keep in mind your breathing and the way you are executing the pose.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds. Rest and repeat on the other side.
4. Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Considered to be a common stretching pose, the Supine spinal Twist is easy and effective in relieving your nagging back pain.
Begin by laying down on your back with both arms extended out to the sides, palms down.
Bend your knees and bring them to your chest. At this point, you’ll be forming a ‘T’ shape.
Exhale and gently rotate your legs to the left side of the mat. Keep in mind to maintain your right shoulder as close to the ground as possible. You’ll feel a deep stretch in your spine as you hold this twist.
Hold this pose for as long as 30 seconds. To return back to the neutral position, engage your core muscles to slowly rotate back to the center. Repeat on the other side.
With your palms planted on the ground, exhale and slowly rotate your legs to the right side of your mat.
Bring awareness to your left shoulder, focusing on keeping it as close to the mat as possible.
Practicing this pose benefits your back by stretching the back muscles while realigning and lengthening the spine. Plus, it also hydrates the spinal disks.
5. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
The Happy Baby Pose is a great pose for stretching the inner groins and spine. It is also known to be effective in calming the mind and relieving stress.
To start off, move into a laying position. Exhale and bend your knees into your belly.
As you inhale, use your hands to grip the insides of your feet. If you have difficulty in holding your feet, you can use a yoga strap to help you. Just loop over each sole around the middle arch and hold onto the strap.
Keep your knees slightly wider than your torso and draw them up toward your armpits.
6. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
All you need for this pose is a blanket and relax!
This is probably a pose that requires the least effort to relieve your back pain. The Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose focuses on the muscles that affect how you feel on your back. It stretches your legs, front torso, and back of your neck.
First off, grab a blanket. Place it folded near a wall and sit down next to it.
Lie down on your back with your butt against the wall. Prop up the back of your legs and rest them against the wall. Imagine your body forming the shape of the letter ‘L’.
Now place and adjust the blanket under the arch of your back. You should leave a small gap between the blanket and the wall. This allows space for your hip sockets to rest.
If you feel discomfort when you place your legs straight up against the wall, you may bend your knees slightly.
For your arms, you can place them either on your chest, at your sides, or wherever you feel comfortable.
Now all you have to do is to hold this pose for about 1 minute before releasing.
Stretch anytime, anywhere!
In order to relieve your back pain, taking action is key!
Research suggests yoga is as effective as standard physical therapy for people with chronic low back pain (source). So, if back pain is a nuisance for you, why not try out some yoga today?
The best part of these yoga poses is you can easily do them by yourself at home.
Whether you’re watching TV, listening to music, or just need a quick unwind, try out these healing yoga poses to strengthen your back and relieve your back pain.
Now you can kiss that nagging back pain goodbye!