A February 2023 report found that a staggering 23% of people live with chronic lower back pain. On top of that, about 84% of adults have experienced general back pain at some point during their lives. Whether you have general soreness in the back or chronic lower back pain that impairs daily activities, yoga poses may benefit your situation.
The Benefits Of Yoga For Back Pain
Does yoga actually help prevent or relieve back pain? Back pain tends to stem from a weak core or tight hip muscles. A healthy back is dependent on a strong core, and good posture can take pressure off the spine. If back pain is the result of tight hip muscles, stretching those muscles and improving their flexibility may relieve pain. Not only does yoga work to strengthen your core, but it also releases tension, helps improve posture, and contributes to greater mobility.
According to a 12-week study, doing yoga just once a week was just as effective at treating moderate to severe chronic lower back pain as physical therapy. If pain exists and it affects the entire body and mind, practicing yoga may help both ease the mind and ease the pain. In regards to which type of yoga works best for back pain relief, there are certain postures that contribute to better spinal alignment. Proper alignment and flexibility are two things that can help prevent or relieve pain. Before we explain how to do the poses that are beneficial for people with back pain, keep in mind that twist poses and deep backbends may only increase pain. Gentle poses go a long way towards helping your recovery.
Happy Baby Pose
Working to decompress the lower back, happy baby pose realigns the spine and opens the hips, inner thighs, and groin. To begin, lie flat on your back and bend your knees, bringing them toward your belly. Reach to grab the outsides of your feet and gently pull your knees down toward your armpits. Make sure that your lower back remains on the ground and aim to have the soles of your feet facing the ceiling. You should feel a mild stretch in the hips, not pain. You can rock from side to side in this pose if you want.
Bridge pose helps to strengthen the back and legs, and may help to relieve back pain and headaches. To do this pose, lie flat on your back with your arms resting by your sides. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor, just far enough away from your butt that you can touch your heels with your fingertips. Glue your shoulders to the floor and keep a neutral spine as you engage your glutes to press your hips up. Keep your thighs parallel to each other and hold the pose at the top. Lower back down to the ground in a controlled, gentle motion. Complete about 10-15 reps, or hold the position for 20 seconds, and then rest.
This is a great resting pose in any yoga routine. It helps to stretch the spine, hips, and thighs, and works to relieve stress. Begin by kneeling down with your knees hip-distance apart. Tuck your feet and sit your hips back onto your heels. Inhale and elongate your spine as you fold over your knees to rest your forehead on the mat. Widen your knees out to the sides of your mat and stretch all the way through your fingertips. Remain here for as long as you like, but make sure to listen to your body and do what feels right.
If you have pain in the shoulders, abdomen, chest, or upper back, cobra pose can help to gently stretch those areas. Lie flat on your stomach with your legs extended behind you. Bend your arms and plant your hands on the floor so that they are in line with your rib cage. Hug your elbows close to your chest and press the tops of your feet into the floor. Engage your chest and abdominal muscles and press your upper back off the floor. Press your lower abdominals and tops of your feet into the floor to support the lift. Keep your arms bent at about a 45-degree angle and drop your shoulders. Lift and lengthen through your upper back and neck, breathe deeply, and hold this pose for 15-30 seconds.
Knee To Chest Pose
This pose works to improve flexibility in the back and spine, while simultaneously massaging the abdominal organs. Lie flat on your back with both legs extended out in front of you and arms relaxed by your sides. Bend your left knee and draw it into your chest, grabbing just below the knee to bring it closer to your chest. Keep your back flat on the floor and hold this position for about 20 seconds before switching legs.
Reclined Pigeon Pose
Reclined pigeon pose helps to open the hips and release tension from the lower back. It may also increase flexibility in the hamstrings. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and heels flat on the ground about six inches from your glutes. Bend your right knee and place your right ankle on your left thigh just above the knee. If you already feel a deep stretch, remain in this position. To achieve a deeper stretch, draw your left knee in toward your chest, interlacing your fingers behind your left hamstring to pull towards you. Try to hold for up to a minute and then repeat on the other side.