Yoga For Back Pain

Our instincts are to stretch out a sore back. . . but most lower back pain is a result of an over stretched back or tight hips. Try backbends instead.

Photos By Lorella Zanetti

Yogis from Beaches Hot Yoga, Toronto.

camel pose

Worldwide, lower back pain has become a common complaint.  There are several contributors to lower back pain, the first of which is tight hips. The second is poor posture.

Prolonged sitting, and activities like cycling and jogging can contribute to tight hips. Yoga for back pain can help alleviate the tight hips that create pull on the pelvis which is known as an anterior pelvic tilt.  This alters your posture, and also stops your gluts from firing.  Once the gluts stop working, this creates muscular imbalance, and results in lower back pain.  Additionally, sitting for long periods of time can result in slouching down in the chair.  Slouching causes an overstretch of the spinal ligaments.

When we have lower back pain, the first instinct is that it is tight and needs to be stretched.  Unfortunately, stretching an already overstretched back can exacerbate the problem.

The Fix:

Stretch and open those hip flexor muscles and fire up those glutes, and do some back bends to engage the muscles around your spine.

Swan:

  • Start in downward facing dog.  Lift the right leg and step forward between your hands.
  • Slowly lower the leg down to the floor, with the top of the foot flat on the floor.
  • Slowly lower your right knee to the ground.
  • Be careful of your right knee.
  • You can adjust the angle of the right leg to be further away from your hips, or closer in, depending on how the stretch feels to you.
  • Hold, and repeat on the other side.

Dragon:

  • Start in a plank or downward dog.
  • Step the right foot forward between the hands.
  • You can keep your hands on either side of your right foot, or move them parallel to the left of your right foot.
  • If your hands are side by side and your right foot is on the outside, go ahead and let your right leg wing out as much as is comfortable.
  • Hold and breathe deeply.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Triangle / Trikanasana:

Photo, Lorella Zanetti; Hair & Make-Up, David Allan Jones, Brodine, Judy Inc.

  • Start with your toes and heels touching.
  • Step your right foot to the right, about 4’.
  • Bring your arms up parallel to the floor.
  • Turn your right foot out until it is perpendicular to the left, with your two heels in one line.
  • Slowly, bend the right knee and bring your hips down until your right thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Moving both arms at the same time, bring the right elbow to the right knee and gently touch your right toes.
  • Your left arm stretches up toward the ceiling.
  • Make sure your glut muscles are engaged, and you core is strong.
  • Hold for 10 breaths.
  • To release, slowly bring the upper body up, then release the lunge.
  • Turn your right foot in, and the left foot out, to repeat on the other side.

Side Plank:

  • Start lying on right side with your knees straight.
  • Prop your body up on your right elbow, and forearm.
  • Raise your left arm until it is perpendicular to your torso.
  • Stack your feet, left foot on top of the right.
  • Keep your core engaged and squeeze those glute muscles.
  • If your core is not yet strong enough to hold this position, you may place your left foot on the floor in front of your right foot, or you can bend your left knee and bring the foot to a comfortable place in front of you.
  • The key to this posture is continually engaging your glute muscles throughout the entire exercise.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds, and repeat on the other side.

ENGAGE YOUR BACK

Cobra / Bhujangasana:

Photo, Lorella Zanetti; Grooming, David Allan Jones, Brodine, Judy Inc.

  • Lie face down on the floor.
  • Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, very close to your chest, while keeping your elbows in close to the body.
  • Keep your legs and heels touching, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor.
  • Engage all leg muscles, and slowly, using your back strength, lift your upper body up off the floor.
  • Loop up and foward. Remember to breathe!

Camel / Ustrasana:

 

Photo, Lorella Zanetti; Hair & Make-Up, David Allan Jones, Brodine, Judy Inc.

  • Kneel, and keep a 6” gap between your knees and feet.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Gently push your hips forward, and lift your chest up.
  • If you feel that you can go further, lower your head back behind you.
  • Reach back, and grab your right foot with your right hand, fingers on the inside and thumbs out.
  • Do the same with your left arm.
  • Hold, and breathe.
  • To release the posture, place your hands on your hips and slowly come up, using your arms for support.

DISCLAIMER: 

All topics covered are provide for informational purposes only.  It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.  The contents should not be seen as health, nutrition, fitness, or medical advice.  Please consult with a medical professional before attempting any of the postures listed on the site (or this article). Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.