Back pain can be debilitating. It is estimated that 80% of us will experience some kind of back pain in our lifetime. If you already have some pain or problem in your back, yoga training to regain length and space in your spine can be the first step to feeling better.
Here at the Panacea de la Montaña we practice rejuvenating yoga in Costa Rica. In this post and the next post, I’ll describe a few simple yoga poses for back pain to help you start feeling better. If you are currently experiencing back pain, start off easy, breathe deeply in and out through your nose, and remember to keep thinking about lengthening your spine. All of your movements should be slow and gentle. If one of these yoga poses does not feel comfortable on your back, don’t do it!
Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain
Yoga Pose 1 – Spinal Stretch
Lie on your back, press your feet against a wall and reach your arms away from the wall. Try to keep the four corners of each foot equally reaching into the wall as you stretch your arms away from this. Take 10 nice slow breaths, rest, and do again.
Yoga Pose 2 – Reclined Foot to Big Toe Pose I (Supta Padangusthasana I)
You’ll need a long strap or belt. Press your left (L) foot into the wall. Bend your right (R) leg and put the strap on the bottom of your R foot. Extend your R leg up, holding the strap with both hands. Open the back of the leg fully (no bend in the knee). Do this by reaching into the ground with your R sitting bone, engage your quadriceps, and lift up through your heel into the strap.
Keep your L foot pushing into the wall, press the inner thigh down and keep your toes and knee pointing up. Lift the kneecaps of both legs to activate your quadriceps muscles and stretch your hamstrings. Keep the sides of your torso equally long, moving the right hip towards the wall to do so.
Yoga Pose 3 – Supta Padangusthasana II
Hold the strap in your R hand, extending your L arm out to the side. Inhale deeply, and on the exhale extend your R leg up and out to the side, aiming your little toes towards the ground. Keep the L thigh and hip pressing down, use a block or low table to support your leg if needed. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale to bring the leg back up, exhale and release the strap. Switch legs, doing I & II with your L leg in the strap.
Keep in mind that, depending on what is currently going on with your back, this may or may not feel good. The basic rule is, if anything starts generating pain, slowly and mindfully come back out the same way you came into the pose. Your back may not be ready for this one yet, so just spend a little more time with #2 (do not yet proceed to #4), and you can include this second part after you have recovered for longer.
Yoga Pose 4 – Supta Padangusthasana III
Put the strap on the bottom of the R foot. Reach your R leg into the air, take the strap into your L hand and extend your R arm overhead on the floor. Inhale, lengthening both sides of the body equally, and exhale roll your R leg over to the L side, coming onto the outside of your L hip. If you can, lower the R foot all the way to the floor, or support it, if necessary, on a block.
Lift up through your R arm and lower down through the outside of your R hip to traction your spine and R side of your low back. Stay here for 5-10 breaths. Inhale to come up, switch the strap to the bottom of your L foot and do the other side.
We’ll add a few more simple and effective yoga poses for the back in a couple of weeks.