Chronic back pain is a consequence of the sedentary lifestyle most of us are leading these days, topped by unhealthy food habits and high stress levels, but using yoga for back pain can provide relief. More and more of our jobs require us to sit all day in front of a computer screen, and to make matters even worse, we are programmed to sit in the most horrible postures imaginable that ultimately lead to a weak core and a stiffened spine.
If your case of backache isn’t too severe, doing some basic yoga for back pain can help relieve the stiffness, by increasing the flexibility and strength of your back muscles. Practice the yoga stretches below daily, for 4 to 12 weeks (depending on the severity of your issue and your current level of fitness) and you will be able to build your core strength and get considerable relief from the issue of backache.
Yoga for Back Pain – Poses to Try
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
The first yoga for back pain pose to try is Bhujangasana, which is the 7th pose in the series of 12 poses performed during the Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutations. This pose stretches your shoulders, upper back and abdomen muscles and is particularly well-known for relieving back and neck pain.
- Comfortably lie down on your stomach with your forehead resting on the mat and your feet 12-inches apart. Your toes should be actively pressed onto the floor in a pointed position.
- Now firmly place your palms on the mat, under your shoulders. Make sure your elbows are close to your body.
- Take a deep inhale and start lifting your head, chest and then torso up, by slowly straightening your arms.
- Your pelvis and thighs should be pressed against the floor and make sure your elbows aren’t locked either.
- Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds (depending on your flexibility and strength level) and then slowly come back down while exhaling. Repeat the asana 5-7 times.
Marjarayasana and Bitilasana (Cat and Cow)
These two poses are done sequentially and are usually practiced as a part of the warm-up exercises, to prepare the body for more advanced yoga poses. Cat and Cow stretching works on your shoulder blades, spine, hips and abdomen and when it’s done on a regular basis, it increases your spine’s flexibility and your sense of balance, which make them excellent poses to try when using yoga for back pain.
- (Cat Pose) – Stand on your knees and palms with your feet 12-inches apart. Your hands and elbows should be inline and placed directly under your shoulders. Similarly, your knees should be placed under your hips.
- Relax your spine. Take a deep inhale and as you exhale start tucking your chin towards your chest and your stomach towards your spine, simultaneously lifting your back towards the ceiling. Your tailbone should be in a scooped position, like a scared cat. Stay in this position for 15-30 seconds.
- (Cow Pose) – Now, inhale and start dropping your stomach while lifting your head towards the ceiling. At this stage, your shoulders should move away from your ears, and your chest should expand. Hold this position for another 15-30 seconds and then move back into the Cat Pose again. Repeat 7-10 times.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
One of the most recommended poses in the series of yoga for back pain, Downward Facing Dog is also a part of the Sun Salutations. It is essentially a strengthening pose that works wonderfully on your shoulders, arms, back, thighs, hamstrings and calves.
- Start on your palms and knees. Keep your palms a little ahead from your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Exhale and pull your knees off the floor with the strength of your arms and legs. Your legs should start to straighten-up and your body should be in an A position, with your pelvic region on the top.
- Try to tuck your head towards your chest and your chest towards the pelvis and make sure your heels are never off the floor.
- You should feel a rejuvenating stretch in your arms, shoulders, spine and legs. Hold the position for about 20-40 seconds and then come back to Step 1’s position.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
This yoga for back pain asana stretches your neck, back, chest and abs and even though it looks a little complicated, Bridge Pose is actually pretty easy to practice and master.
- Lie down flat on your back.
- Bend your knees and move your feet as close to your thighs as possible. Keep your feet 12-inches apart and make sure that your ankles and knees are in-line with one another. Place your arms beside your body, with your palms facing the mat.
- Take a deep inhale and with the strength of your shoulders, upper back and legs, lift your lower back and hips off the floor.
- Squeeze your shoulders together and try to touch your chin to your chest.
- Now, join your hands together under your back and push yourself a bit more. Stay in this position at least for 30 seconds.
- Exhale and come back down slowly. Repeat 10-15 times.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Spinal Twist)
Again, a very powerful strengthening pose for the spine, that also works on your abs and is known for treating digestive issues.
- Sit on the mat with your legs straight in front of you. Keep your feet together and spine erect. Keep your hands beside your hips.
- Now, bend your right leg at the knee and place it beside your left leg’s outer thigh, by taking it over the left knee. The right knee should be pointed towards the ceiling, and your left leg is still straight at this point.
- Now, start bending your left leg as well, so as to place your left foot next to your right buttock.
- Place your left elbow beside the inner right knee and push the knee towards your chest. You can keep your arm pointed towards the ceiling and your hand open with fingers spread out. During all these steps your spine should be in an erect position.
- Place your right palm behind you, facedown on the floor.
- Now, exhale and twist your shoulders from the left to right side and look back, twisting your neck, chest, back and abdomen as well. Hold this position for 30-40 seconds and then slowly release. Step 7 – Repeat the process again but twisting the other side of your body.
Halasana (Plow Pose)
When it comes to yoga for back pain, this pose is a little advanced and it might take you some time to master it completely. The pose is known for a number of benefits including relief from backaches, headaches, insomnia and sinus pain. Plow Pose stretches your spine, shoulders, hamstrings and legs. It is highly advisable to practice this pose with patience and caution.
- Lie down flat on your back, with your arms resting to either side of your body.
- Inhale and with the help of your core strength lift both your legs and hips off the mat.
- Use your hands to support your back and push your legs behind your head and try to touch the mat with your toes. Keep your back as straight as possible and keep your head centred and in a relaxed position. Make sure not to put any pressure on the neck.
- Once you reach the mat with your toes, stabilize yourself and start bringing your arms in the front position again, palms facing the floor. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and then slowly bring your legs down.
- While coming back down, first your upper back should touch the floor and then your lower back, followed by your hips and legs.
When you are suffering from the issue of backache, it’s very important not to rush yourself. While doing yoga for back pain, take your time, build your core strength and once you feel really confident, only then try to push your limits. If your pain is severe, consult a physician before performing any of these poses.