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“Your true age is determined by the health of your spine.” I’m not exactly sure who said this quote or where it originated, but I learned it a decade ago in my yoga teacher training certification.

It really stuck with me. 

Your spine is capable of moving in multiple planes, yet if we don’t continue to practice movements like flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion, we lose mobility. Lost mobility can then lead to chronic aches, pains and even injury. 

The biggest cause of low back pain? Sitting for hours a day! Sitting weakens your core and forces your lumbar spine (low back) to be in flexion. Both are a recipe for pain

So, then what? Cue yoga…

How Can Yoga Help Heal My Low Back Pain?

Woman stretched over her yoga mat, looking at her computer

This goes without saying, but please consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine - especially if you are experiencing chronic pain

1. No heavy equipment

Yoga can offer a wonderful solution to your back pain because it involves you and your body alone. If you are experiencing chronic pain, adding weights or other resistance may be too much for your back to handle. 

When you are in charge of only moving or stabilizing your body weight, it can be a wonderful (and more gentle) option to regain your low back's strength and health.

2. Core-focused

A component of every active yoga posture is your core. Your core includes more than your various abdominal muscles. Your mid-back, low-back, glutes and hips are also part of your core. 

If you are sedentary most of your day, some or all of these core muscles are likely weak. Yoga offers an incredible way to build strength and stability to counter your sitting posture.

3. Improved flexibility

This comes as no surprise. Yoga helps you gain flexibility, which is essential when you have a limited range of motion. Typically, people who suffer from low back pain also suffer from tight hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors. I will share some yoga poses to boost flexibility in all of the above.

4. Breath that heals

If you have ever done yoga, you know that breath is the foundation. As you do in yoga, breathing deeply and slowly allows your body to switch from “fight or flight” (aka stressed mode) to a more relaxed state. Your nervous system literally shifts from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic state.

When dealing with chronic pains, we must allow ourselves to find these restful states more often. Many times, the tension in our body is actually triggered by stress (or other suppressed emotions), so practicing a yoga breath can be incredibly healing for your back.

Related: 11 Best Squat-Proof Leggings

Which poses are the most beneficial for low back pain?

There are many that could potentially be beneficial for your healing, but I will share the top active and top passive poses for healing your low back.

Active Poses:

CAT/COW

Woman doing cat pose
Woman doing cow pose

This pair of poses is a gentle way to increase the range of motion in your spine while also acting as a gentle way to engage the muscles along your spine and your abdominals. 

Try 5-10 rounds, moving slowly.

LOW COBRA

Woman doing low cobra

This pose uses the strength of your back alone to lift your chest off of the ground. (Notice the hovering hands) This may seem counterintuitive when dealing with low back pain, but building back strength may be exactly what you need to heal. This also is a perfect way to balance poor sitting posture. 

Lift and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.

Related: Amazon’s 7 Best Yoga Mats [For Channeling Your Inner Yogi]

BRIDGE POSE 

Woman doing bridge pose

Here is another gentle, but strengthening pose that engages your back body. Once again, back pain is often due to a weak core. 

Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times.

DOWNWARD DOG

Woman doing downward dog

Remember when I mentioned that tight hamstrings might be one of the reasons you have back pain? Try this. Do your best to keep your spine long (no hunching) - press your chest back to your thighs. (Notice that my knees are bent in the second picture. This may feel more accessible if your hamstrings are tight.)

Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times.

Related: The 40 Best Bodyweight Exercises [For All Fitness Levels]

SPINAL BALANCE

Woman in spinal balance pose
Woman in curled spinal balance position

This is a fabulous exercise to build strength and stability in nearly all of your many core muscles. Opposite arm and leg extend (keep your belly cinched up - not arching your low back), then draw your elbow and knee together to crunch (engage your belly more and round your spine).

Try 5-10 each side.

Passive Poses:

CHILD’S POSE

Woman in child's pose position

This is one of the most restful yoga poses, and it does a lovely job of releasing low back tension. Put your knees about as wide as your yoga mat (wider than your hips), sit your hips towards your heels and drape your torso between your thighs. (Note: if you can’t comfortably rest your forehead to the floor, rest your head onto a pillow or block)

Stay and breathe deeply for 30 seconds - 2 minutes.

FORWARD FOLD

Woman in forward fold

This pose does wonders for your hamstrings while also creating more space and length in your low back. Take your feet as wide as is comfortable, bend your knees as much as you need to, and let your torso hang heavy. Arm position is up to you.

Stay and breathe deeply for 30 seconds - 2 minutes.

HALF PIGEON

Woman in half pigeon

Hours of sitting causes really tight glutes and hips, this pose will help with both. The intention is to feel a stretch in the cheek and hip of the front leg. This one can be pretty intense, so adjust your front leg position in a way for you to hold for at least 30 seconds.

Stay and breathe deeply for 30 seconds - 2 minutes each side.

HALF KNEELING

Woman in half kneeling position

Hello, hip flexors. Sitting forces your hip flexors to shorten and become tight. This can then cause tension in your low back. In this half kneeling position, be sure not to crunch or arch your low back. 

Stay and breathe deeply for 30 seconds - 2 minutes each side.

SPINAL TWIST

Woman in Spinal Twist position

This easy twist gives your spine an opportunity to be in a rotation position - which is something you may not naturally do daily. The twist is a gentle way to release tension in your hips and low back. Move slowly.

Stay and breathe deeply for 30 seconds - 2 minutes each side.


There you have it! 10 total yoga poses to help strengthen and relax the appropriate muscles contributing to your low back pain. Always move slowly and breathe deeply. With regular practice, yoga may be your ticket to a healthy spine!


You might also be interested in: How to Start a Morning Meditation Routine

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Posted 
Jul 3, 2020
 in 
Health & Wellness
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