Whether it’s a sport injury, you slept wrong, or you lifted something incorrectly, back pain can be debilitating While there are anti-inflammatory medicines to help alleviate pain, pressure, and swelling, these medicines can also cause stomach and intestinal issues. Using yoga to stretch and tone your body can not only reduce back and sciatic pain, but also restore emotional balance to your daily life.
The following yoga poses can be used daily to help keep your muscles stretched and toned. Remember to breathe deeply with each pose and allow your body to relax. If you experience any pain during the poses, it’s best to reduce the stretch. You should feel the stretch, but there should be no sharp or intense pain.
Not only does the cobra pose reduce back pain, it can also go a long way towards alleviating stress, anxiety and even depression.
- Lie on your stomach and extend your legs back, placing the tops of the feet on the floor. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders, and squeeze your elbows toward your back.
- Press the tops of the feet and thighs, as well as your public bones firmly into the floor.
- On an inhalation, slowly straighten the arms to lift your chest off the floor. Do not over-extend your arms. Only lift to a height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press your tailbone toward the pubic bone and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don't harden the buttocks.
- Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.
- Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
2. Downward-facing Dog
This classic yoga pose is a great total body stretch that targets back extensors-- the large muscles that help form your lower back--to support your spine and help you stand and lift objects.
- Begin on your hands and knees, placing your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Pressing back, raise your knees away from the floor and lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling.
- Relax your head between your arms.
- As you get more comfortable with this pose, gently push your heels toward the floor.
3. Child's Pose
While child’s post is one of yoga’s most relaxing poses, it is also an active stretch that helps elongate the back.
- Begin on all fours with your arms placed in front of you. Gently lower you hips back so your glutes rest just above your heels.
- Hold the position for 5 to10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed for a good, soothing stretch.
4. Pigeon Pose
This pose stretches hip rotators and flexors, and tight hips are a large contributor to lower back pain.
- Begin in a downward dog pose, with both feet together. Bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer thigh of your right leg is resting on the mat.
- If you have good flexibility through your hips, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat.
- Stay in this position with your hands resting on your right leg or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee.
- Hold this pose for several breaths as you feel the tension release in your hips.
- Then place your hands on the mat in front of you, tuck your left toes and step your right foot back. Then step your left foot forward and repeat the Pigeon pose on the left side.
5. Cat and Cow Pose
The perfect poses for an achy, sore back, cow and cat stretches loosen back muscles, whether as part of a yoga routine or as a warm-up for another workout.
- Begin in an all-fours position. Slowly move into cat pose by pressing your spine up and arching your back.
- Hold for a few seconds and then move to cow pose by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head.
- Slowly move back and forth from cat to cow helps, relaxing the muscles and easing tension.
6. Seated Twist Pose
No matter what your level of ability or physical condition, twist poses are a great release for tight muscles and tension. They also tone and cleanse your organs, release and strengthen the muscles of your spine and neck, and allow you to open and strengthen your shoulder joints.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Shift your weight onto your right buttock, bend your knees, and swing your legs to the left.
- Place your feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the right arch.
- Inhale and lift through the spine to lengthen the torso. Exhale as you twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or very close to the floor.
- Tuck your left hand under your right knee and bring your right hand to the floor just beside your right buttock. As you pull your left shoulder slightly back, press your shoulder blades firmly against your back even as you continue to twist the chest to the right.
- Turn your head to the right to continue the twist of the torso, or you can counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at your feet.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release and return to the starting position. Repeat the seated twist to the left.
Image by: Evil Erin