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Yoga for Back Pain Relief

Gentle Strength and Stretching Exercises for your Back

Are you experiencing new or chronic back pain? Give yoga a try. The American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low-back pain.* Yoga for lower back pain relief is a great way to gently stretch and strengthen your muscles. Relaxation and breathing exercises release tension to make it a full mind-body workout.

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We have selected seven yoga poses for lower back pain relief to mobilize, stretch and strengthen your back. After your yoga session, you’re sure to feel relaxed and energized regardless of your yoga level. Namaste!

Before starting your yoga journey, seek medical advice before self-treating back pain. While attending a yoga class, make sure your instructor is aware of your back issues to suggest modifications.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child’s pose gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles while relaxing your spine, shoulders and neck.

This calming pose is a good resting position at the beginning or end of your yoga sequence. Use child’s pose to rest and refocus before continuing to your next pose.

Balasana Image

To do this:

  • Begin in table top position on all fours.
  • Bring your big toes together and spread your knees a little wider than your hips.
  • On an exhale, sit back on your heels.
  • Bend forward and walk your hands in front of you.
  • Rest your forehead softly on the floor.
  • Keep your arms extended in front of you or bring your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up.
  • Lengthen the tailbone.
  • Focus on releasing tension in your back.

Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward Facing Dog.jpg Image

The Downward-Facing Dog strengthens the arms, shoulders and back while stretching the hamstrings, calves and arches of your feet.

To do this:

  • Start on all fours with knees slightly behind your hips and hands stacked under your shoulders. Spread your fingers.
  • Curl your toes under. Engage your core, drawing the belly button inwards.
  • On an inhale, press your hands into the mat. Exhale, lift your knees up and straighten your legs as much as you can.
  • Keep a slight bend in your knees and lengthen your spine and tailbone. Keep your heels slightly off the ground.
  • Press firmly into your hands. Pay attention to your hip and shoulder placement while keeping balance between both sides of your body. Keep your head in line with your upper arms or tuck your chin in gently.

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Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Image

This pose can help strengthen the back muscles, increase spinal flexibility and stretch the chest, shoulders and abdomen.

To do this:

  • Lie on your stomach while placing your hands under your shoulders and keeping your fingers facing forward.
  • Pull your arms in tightly to your chest. Keep your elbows close.
  • Press into your hands and slowly lift your head, chest and shoulders. You can lift partway, halfway or all the way up. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. You can let your head drop back to deepen the pose.
  • Release back down to your mat on an exhale.
  • Bring your arms by your side and rest your head.
  • Move your hips from side to side gently in order to release tension from your lower back.

Seated Half-Spine Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Twist Pose Image

This twisting pose can increase the flexibility in your back while stretching the shoulders, hips and chest. It can also help relieve tension in the middle of your back.

To do this:

  • Sit with your legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping your feet together and spine straight.
  • Bend both legs with feet on the mat.
  • Pull your left leg toward you, underneath the right knee, and place the heel of your left foot beside the right hip.
  • Place your right leg over your left knee.
  • Straighten your spine.
  • Place both arms behind you.
  • Rotate your upper body until your left elbow reaches your right knee.
  • Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind your lower back.
  • Maintain the pose and continue breathing with long, deep breaths.
  • Breathing out, release your right hand first, followed by your waist, then chest, and finally your neck.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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Knees to Chest Pose (Apanasana)

Apanasana Image

The Knees to Chest Pose stretches your body and eases tension in the lower back. At the same time, it massages the abdominal organs and improves blood circulation, so you can rebalance your energy to relax the mind and body.

To do this:

  • Lay on your back and extend the legs and arms.
  • While exhaling, bring both knees to the chest.
  • Pull your knees to your body and lift your upper body from the ground.
  • Guide your chin to your knees. Keep your lower and middle back on the ground.
  • Gently swing forwards and backwards to massage your back.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Vrksasana Image

The Tree Pose improves your sense of balance and coordination. It stretches the thighs, torso and shoulders, builds strength in the ankles and calves and tones the abdominal muscles. Abdominal muscles help improve posture, which is important to prevent and treat back pain.

To do this:

  • Start in a standing position. Root both of your feet in the mat.
  • On an inhale, lift one leg up and place it below or above the knee at a right angle.
  • Try to focus on one spot while you balance.

Half Lotus Pose (Sukhasana)

Sukhasana Image

Lotus pose is a seated position that opens the hip, stretches knees and ankle and helps to relieve back pain. We recommend starting with the half lotus pose or cross-legged seat.

To do this:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended. The spine stays straight.
  • Bend your right knee and put your right foot in your left hip crease with the sole of the foot facing towards the sky.
  • Now move your left leg underneath the right leg.
  • Rest your hands palms facing up or down on your knees.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Close your eyes and gaze inward.

* https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M16-2367?_ga=2.193023981.1909118395.1659453834-1309222534.1659453834

This information is provided for general information purposes and should not be relied on as a substitute for medical advice, evaluation or care from a qualified and licensed health care provider. The information contained here is not to be considered a plan of care of physical therapy.