Yoga can not only help you strengthen your back muscles but also help you stretch and relax muscles in your back. Yoga also encourages you to simultaneously work your back and your abdomen, strengthening the core of your body. Transitioning between muscle movements and holding your pose will allow certain muscles to flex while allowing other muscles to stretch, reducing the tension you carry in your body.
Stretching can be extremely beneficial for those with lower back pain to help relieve tension and open blood flow. Here are six poses you can do to help with lower back pain.
1. Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog may be one of the most popular yoga moves out there- for good reason. This pose is a total body stretch and targets back extensors, the large muscles in your lower back that help support your spine and lift objects. Start the position on your hands and knees. Lift your hips and drive your heels into the ground. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get your heels all the way to the floor. Just push them until you feel a good stretch in the back of your legs and lower back. Hold this pose for five to ten breaths.
2. Upward Facing Dog
Upward facing dog opens yours chest and helps improve abdominal and back strength. Starting in the downward facing dog position with both palms face down. Press the tops of your feet into the ground and shift your body forward into a plank pose. Push your head up making your arms straight and your face looking up. Hold this pose for five to ten breaths.
3. Low Lunge with Back Bend
This move is great for strengthening and stretching your entire back. Start in a low lunge position. You can balance your straight leg on the ground if you need to. Bring your arms up next to your ears. Take a deep breath and lean back as far as you can into the pose. Hold for five to ten breaths.
4. Seated Forward Fold
Ah, the classic sit and reach. This move is great for stretching your lower back and hamstrings. This releases a ton of tension in your lower back. Start in an upright seated position. Extend both legs straight out. work your hands down your legs until you have reached as far as you can go. Don’t worry about reaching all the way to your toes! Take some deep breaths. As you exhale, reach further into the stretch. Let your own gravity pull you into the stretch.
5. Seated Spinal Twist
This relaxing pose will release your lower back and increase overall spinal flexibility. Starting in a seated position, bring your left foot across your body and set it beside your right knee. Turn your body to the right, bringing your right elbow outside of your left knee. Look over your left shoulder and hold for five breaths.
You can also do this pose while lying on your back. While lying down flat, hug your knees to your chest. Then, slowly lower your knees to your right side so your right leg is resting on the floor. Turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Hold this pose for five breaths.
6. Pigeon Pose
This pose is a great way to loosen up your hips and back. If your back pain is caused by tight hips, this move is for you because it focuses on the hip flexors and rotators. Start in the downward facing dog position. Bend your right knee, bringing your leg down in front of your body. Extend the left leg back behind you with the top of your foot, shin and thigh in contact with the floor.
Once you feel comfortable, walk your hands out in front of you, lowering your torso to the floor. Stay here for five breaths. Return to a downward facing dog position before repeating on the other side.