Lower back pain is a common ailment that as many as 25% of adults suffer from at any given time. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), about 80% of adults suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives.
There are many possible causes of lower back pain. Some of these include sitting too much, having bad posture or a simple lack of flexibility or strength.
Regardless of the cause, practicing gentle yoga postures can provide some lower back pain relief.
Remember: It is always advised to consult with your doctor before starting yoga.
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Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Before we dive into the yoga, let’s talk a bit about the common causes of lower back pain.
Some common culprits are shortened hip and hamstring muscles and inadequate core strength.
Ongoing back injuries and disc issues can also contribute to lower back pain.
Yoga can be a very effective treatment for many of these causes, and also for more general feelings of tightness and achiness that we all experience at some point.
Keep in mind that improving your core strength and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help alleviate lower back pain as well.
Important: Pain is not welcome in yoga. However, mild discomfort from stretching is normal.
Yoga for Lower Back Pain Relief
Practicing a few key yoga poses on a daily basis can help stretch and strengthen the muscles around the lower back.
The following yoga poses are some of our favorites for treating lower back pain:
1. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is a resting pose that gently stretches the hips, legs, and lower back. Its calming benefits can be felt as the forehead rests toward the ground and the breath deepens.
To come into the pose from a table position, widen your knees about hip-width distance, sink your hips to your heals and allow your torso to gently rest down toward the ground. Extend your arms toward the top of your mat and place your palms facing down.
As you inhale, lengthen your spine forward and as you exhale, relax and settle into your shape. Hold for 1-3 minutes and remember to breathe.
2. Standing Forward Fold
Standing Forward Folds are a nice way to stretch into the hamstrings while releasing the lower back. If your hips or hamstrings are tight, we recommend keeping a slight bend to the knees and placing your hands on two blocks (at the highest height at the top of your mat).
Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width distance apart. As you bend your knees, gently begin to fold forward.
Bring your hands to the top of your blocks and keep your knees bent (or straight knees for an additional hamstring stretch). Align your hips over your ankles and tuck your chin toward your chest as you allow the crown of your head to lengthen toward the ground.
Hold for 1-3 minutes.
3. Reclined Figure Four Pose
Reclined Figure Four Pose is a great stretch to release tension in the hips while soothing the lower back.
From a reclined position, place your left ankle on top of your right knee. Start with your right foot on the ground and gently press your right thigh away from you.
To go deeper, lift your bottom foot to hip height with the base of the foot forward and hold the back of your left thigh, gently drawing your entire shape in closer to your body.
Make sure to keep your shoulders and head on the ground. To modify, simply place your left foot on a wall in front of you. Hold for 1-3 minutes then switch sides.
4. Reclined Spinal Twists
Reclined Spinal Twists are a nice way to stretch the outer legs in addition to the lower back and chest. Have a blanket or block nearby for this pose.
Start on your back with your knees hugging into your chest. Gently lower your knees over to your left side as you open your arms wide.
Tilt your face in the opposite direction of your knees. If you experience pain in your neck, turn it the opposite direction.
If you experience a lot of tightness here, use a block underneath your knees for added support. You can also place a blanket or block in between your knees if there is a lot of space there. Relax your shoulders toward the ground or place a blanket underneath it.
Keep in mind that you want your knees and hips facing the same direction and your chest facing to the sky as much as possible. Hold for 1-3 minutes and then switch sides.
5. Supported Bridge Pose
Supported Bridge pose helps strengthen the back.
Starting on your back, bend your knees and bring the bottom of your feet to the floor approximately hip distance apart.
Bring your hands by your side and use the weight of your feet and hands to lift your hips off the floor. Gently slide a block underneath the lowest point of your back and rest on the block.
If you experience any pain, try moving the block higher or lower on the back. If you are still experiencing pain, skip this exercise.
Hold for 1-2 minutes and when you are ready to come out of the pose, gently lift your hips and remove the block. Once your hips are back on the floor, hug your knees into your chest and rock gently from side to side.
6. Restorative Legs Elevated Pose
Restorative Yoga helps us to destress by putting our bodies in a restful state for prolonged periods of time.
Try this simple restorative yoga pose to ease tension and gently release the muscles around the lower back. You can simply lay on your back and put your legs in the air, or you can move from your supported bridge and lift your legs.
Alternatively, you can use a chair, couch, or ottoman as well as a towel or small blanket. Edge the right side of your hip up to the chair, and as you lower your left side body down, swivel your legs up the chair.
Make sure your legs are supported from the backs of the knees to the heels. Place your blanket or towel underneath your head and neck for support. Allow yourself 5-15 minutes to rest here.
Breathe deeply. Emphasizing your exhales and allowing any tension to start to soften and release. Feel grounded and supported here as your body drifts into a deeper state of relaxation.
To come out, gently draw your knees into your chest and roll over to one side.
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