The Best Yoga Poses for Reducing Back Pain
Yoga offers the perfect antidote to back pain, whether you've been suffering from an aching back for two days or two years. These poses improve flexibility while decreasing pain and muscle tension.
Downward-facing dog is a particularly good choice if you have back or neck pain. This classic yoga pose strengthens the muscles that support your back and core while providing a soothing stretch. As you rise from your hands and knees, your body forms an upside-down "V" shape. Let your back and neck relax as you support yourself with your hands and feet.
Hold the pose for five to 10 breaths before returning to the starting position or moving on to the child's pose or another pose. Don't be surprised if your arms and legs feel stronger after just a few weeks. You may feel a little resistance in your calves and hamstring when you first perform downward-facing dog. If that happens, try bending your knees to ease pressure on the muscles.
You've probably noticed that your back muscles feel painfully tight after a stressful day. The child's pose stretches and loosens your back muscles while calming your mind.
The pose is as easy as it sounds. Start in a kneeling position with your knees hip-width apart. As you sit back on your heels, touch your big toes together. Extend your arms and slowly drop your torso to the floor. Keep your arms extended in front of you or place them by your sides with the palms up. Inhale and exhale for several counts. If your torso doesn't quite reach the floor, place a pillow or block in front of you.
This fun pose gives your back muscles and tissues a gentle workout. You'll begin on your hands and knees, then inhale, arch your back, and drop your head during the cat phase. As you exhale, you'll drop your abdomen, and raise your head.
Cat-Cow loosens neck, shoulder, and back muscles, boosts your circulation, and even improves your balance. Perform it any time during the day when your back feels a little tight. Poses that stretch the spine, like cat-cow, offer an effective way to ease back pain. According to a study of home office workers published in The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 10 minutes of daily yoga significantly reduced pain in the neck, head, hips, buttocks, and upper and lower back.
The plank pose looks like the "up" part of a push-up. As you rest your weight on your hands and toes, align your head with your back, forming a straight line with your body. Keep your neck in a neutral position and look down at the floor as you perform the pose. Return to the hands and knees position to complete the pose.
In addition to testing your mental and physical stamina, the plank pose strengthens muscles in your arms, legs, back, and abdomen. If you slump or hunch over while driving or working, poor posture could be a contributing factor in your back pain. Performing this pose stabilizes key muscles in the core, improving posture. Don't be discouraged if you can only perform the plank for a few seconds at first. As you grow stronger, you'll be able to remain in the pose longer.
Is your lower back sore after sitting all day? The knees-to-chest pose counteracts the stress and strain on your spine, easing your pain. Recommended by the Yoga Journal for back pain, the pose opens the hips while stretching the lower back. The knees-to-chest pose eases tension in the abdomen, which is helpful for digestive problems and menstrual cramps.
Start the pose by lying on your back on your mat. Keep your legs together and your arms at your side. Exhale and bring your legs to your chest. Grasp your shins with your arms as you inhale and exhale slowly.
Deep breathing, also called yogic breathing, is an important part of every yoga pose you perform. Inhaling and exhaling slowly calms your mind, reduces stress, improves blood flow to your brain and muscles, and helps you deepen poses.
Struggling with back pain? Our instructors will teach you how to perform these and other poses that will relieve your pain. Contact the studio for information about class types and schedules.
Sage Journals: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society: Impact of 10-Min Daily Yoga Exercises on Physical and Mental Discomfort of Home-Office Workers During COVID-19, 10/1/2021
Yoga Journal: 8 Poses to Ease Lower Back Pain, 8/3/2021
Cleveland Clinic: Muscle Stiffness: Causes and Treatments, 7/20/2023
Harvard Health Publishing: The Safe Way to Do Yoga for Back Pain, 4/11/2021