10 Yoga Poses to Stretch Away Your Back Pain
By Savanna Stone //
I wish I was the yoga master, like how Yoda is a Jedi Master. But people would call me Savanna . . . because that’s my name, and I like it just fine. I like yoga because I have this romantic view of people who do yoga: I think they are invincible, powerful beings who are stronger and wiser than everyone else. They’re in charge of their body and their mind; what else is there? And I want to be powerful like them and in charge of my body and my life. Sometimes I do yoga, but I’m not yet, “Savanna the Yoga Master, All Powerful and Confident.” I just do yoga when I have a bad day, when I sit too much, or when my back hurts. Because yoga can make you feel better mentally and physically. And there are certain poses that can help specifically with lower back pain. I’ve tried these, and they really do stretch out your back and give you the relief you need. Here they are:
Note: As you do these poses, take your time with each one. Yoga is a mind and body exercise. Listen to your body, and only do as much as is comfortable to you.
1. Supine Twist
Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent. Before you get into the pose, take some time to stretch your lower back by pulling your knees up to your chest and rocking back and forth. Leave your knees up close to your body as you begin the pose. When you’re ready, rest your arms out so your body looks like a T. Then, slowly let your knees fall to the floor on your right. Only go as far as is comfortable for you. Use your right hand to bring your left hip down to the floor if necessary, and turn your head to the left to get a complete stretch. Make sure you keep your left shoulder on the ground for the duration of the pose. Relax in this final position. You should feel a stretch in your lower back. Do this on both sides, slowly and gently coming out of the pose each time.
2. Sphinx Pose
This pose is simple but very beneficial for your lower back. Start on your stomach. Place your elbows under your shoulders (about an inch forward from your shoulders) and your palms flat on the floor. Simply hold this position for three to five minutes. If this pose is too hard on your lower back at first, lower your upper body a bit by bringing your shoulders down and your elbows out. If this pose is too easy for you, place a pillow or yoga block under your elbows to raise your upper body up and create even more of an arch in your lower back. If you get bored while holding this pose, read a book or watch TV.
3. Thread the Needle Pose
Begin on your hands and knees with your shoulders over your hands and your hips over your knees. Inhale as you lift your right hand to open up your chest, and exhale as you “thread the needle” by bringing your right hand under your body, reaching to the left. Rest your palm upwards on the floor. Maintain level hips. You can stay in this position, or to have a deeper stretch, lift your left hand upwards to the sky with your palm facing forward. When you’re ready, face your left palm backwards and bend your elbow, resting your hand on your left hip. You can also reach your left hand forward above your head for another variation. Reverse the steps to come out of the pose. End the pose with a child’s pose, and do it on the other side.
4. Cat and Cow Pose
Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders over your hands and your hips over your knees. Lift your back up like a cat stretching and bring your head down, looking toward your belly button. Then pull your belly down and look up at the sky (cow portion of the pose). For a deeper stretch, pull your toes under your ankles. Then for more of a core workout, lift your knees so they are in line with your ankles and do the cat and cow parts with lifted knees.
5. Downward Facing Dog
Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly above your hands and your hips directly above your knees. You can warm up with a cat and cow pose before you begin. To warm up some more, drop your forearms to the ground so your elbows are under your shoulders and press your palms into the ground. Bring your heart to the ground, as you do so your forehead might touch the ground, and that is fine. Keeping your knees on the ground at first, push your hips upwards. Take some deep breaths in this position. Bring your head up and walk your legs forward a bit. Begin to lift your elbows and knees slowly until you are in the Downward Facing Dog Position. To build strength, don’t stop moving. Pedal your legs by continually bending your knees and stretching your feet. Do what feels comfortable and what keeps your mind at ease and relaxed.
6. Child’s Pose
Begin on your hands and knees. Bring your big toes inward so that they touch each other and bring your knees outward. Let your butt fall so it touches your ankles. As you do so, stretch your arms forward reaching with your fingers. Let your head melt down into the earth. Rest in this position.
7. Standing Forward Bend
This pose is simple, but can help you loosen the muscles in your lower back and can help you be more comfortable in other yoga poses. Stand up with your feet together. Slowly bend forward at your hips, letting your body hang down like a rag doll. Place your palms on the ground by your feet if it is comfortable, or use a block to rest your hands on. Let your head hang down. Bend your knees as generously as you need, but as you become more advanced in the pose, try to straighten your legs. To come out of the pose, bend your knees and exhale. Try and keep your shoulders back for the duration of the pose.
8. Reclined Pigeon Pose/ Pigeon Pose
There are a lot of ways to get to the complete Pigeon Pose, one good way to get there is doing the reclined pose, especially if you have a tight lower back. For the reclined pose, lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your left ankle in front of your right knee, and pull your right knee towards your chest. Simply hold this position to stretch your left hip. Do this on both sides.
For the regular pose, start on your hands and knees. Bring your left knee all the way up to your shoulder line if you can. Then straighten your right leg back. Lift your shoulders up and back, and lift your hands onto your fingertips, like the first image. Bring your left foot inward by scooting it a little at a time. Make sure you don’t roll your body over to the left. Keep your body lifted. If this is hard for you, curl your right toes under, putting weight on your right knee and lifting your hips off the ground a bit. You can use a block for support to help lift your body upwards. To make the pose more difficult, bring your left foot more forward and bring your heart to the earth. Only do what feels right for your body.
9. Triangle Pose
Begin the pose by standing. Bring both feet out wider than your hips and lift your arms so they are parallel to the floor, palms up toward the sky. Lift your chest and turn the toes inward. When you are ready, point your right toes forward, and turn your left foot inward slightly. Inhale in as you reach down, bringing your right hand to your ankle. Keep your core tight. Lift your left arm up to the sky, and turn your head to the sky as well. This pose is great for strengthening your core, which helps to reduce back pain.
10. Half Lord of the Fishes
Sit up on the ground with your legs straight forward and begin to stretch. Slowly bend your left knee, and then bend your right leg, bringing it under your left leg. Then bring your left foot to the opposite side of your right knee. Twist your body to the left, bringing your right arm to the left of your left knee. Place your left arm on the ground behind you for support. Move slowly during this pose, breathing in and out as you twist further.
ABMP. (2016, April 6). Yoga Poses for a Better Back: Thread the Needle. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8-bBGOilms.
Ekhart Yoga. (2013, June 24). Sphinx Pose Explained. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPDs-zyIsWI.
Howcast. (2012, June 23). How to Do a Cat Cow Pose for Energy. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqnua4rHVVA.
Mind Body Soul. (2018, November 2). How to Do Reclining Pigeon Pose. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDOBkhKEuu0.
Yoga with Adriene. (2012, December 12). Downward Facing Dog Yoga Pose. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j97SSGsnCAQ.
Yoga with Adriene. (2012, November 14). Reclined Twist Yoga Pose. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKC3IeldPOc.
Yoga with Adriene. (2013, September 11). Triangle Pose. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upFYlxZHif0.
Yoga Journal. (2018, September 26). Standing Forward Bend. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KzyEgkq7zw.