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A Guide to Helpful Yoga for Lower Back Pain

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If you’ve been working from home lately, it’s highly likely that you’ve suffered at least occasional lower back stiffness and back tightness in general. The more sedentary you are, the easier it is for that lower back tightness to creep up on you. Luckily, regular stretching and practicing yoga can be exceptionally beneficial to your health — and to your back pain. Here are some reasons why you should try yoga for lower back pain.

Yoga 101

It’s important to know what yoga is to better understand how a good yoga stretch can be beneficial to you. According to Medical News Today, yoga is “a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy.” There are various styles of yoga, but their building blocks comprise physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.

Having originated in South Asia, yoga has become a popular form of physical exercise based upon such poses. It also works well to promote mindfulness, a connection between the mind and body, and enhance overall wellbeing.

There are six branches of yoga — Hatha, Raja, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana, and Tantra — and each has its own core characteristics and focus. Hatha yoga is among the most common branches, and it focuses on the mental and physical to prime the body and mind.

Yoga for Your Back

The great thing about yoga is that there is a lot of room for stretching and increasing flexibility. Yoga poses for lower back pain and yoga for upper back pain are plentiful and effective. Yoga stretches for back pain are great because they help soothe the pain, but they also help relieve associated stress.

According to Healthline, practicing yoga for even a few minutes a day can help you gain more awareness of your body. It’s important to get in tune with your body because you’ll be able to notice when you’re holding tension and can bring yourself into balance and alignment.

Best Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain

While there are many yoga poses for back pain, here are four of the best back poses to get you started on yoga for back pain.

Downward Dog

One of the essentials in any yoga workout or routine, dog poses can help relieve back pain and sciatica. It targets back extensors, which help form your lower back, support your spine, and help you lift objects.

Start on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Pressing back, raise your knees away from the floor, and lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, or up to a minute, and repeat five to seven times.

Child’s Pose

Another classic yoga pose, the child’s pose helps elongate the back and is one of the best tight lower back stretches. Start on all fours with your arms stretched out straight in front of you. Sit back until your glutes come to rest just above your heels. You can hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths and repeat as many times as needed.

Extended Triangle Pose

According to Healthline, this standing posture may help alleviate backache, sciatica, and neck pain. It stretches the spine, hips, and groin, as well as strengthens the shoulders, chest, and legs.

As you’re standing, walk your feet about 4 feet apart before turning your right toes to face forward and left toes at an angle. Lift your arms parallel to the floor with your palms facing down, tilt forward, and hinge at your right hip to come forward with your arm and torso. Bring your hand to your leg, extend your left arm up toward the ceiling and look up, forward, or down. Hold the pose for up to one minute and repeat on the other side.

Cat-Cow Pose

When it comes to yoga for lower back pain, this is one of the best poses. Get on all fours and move into the cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up and arching your back. Hold for a few seconds before moving to the cow position by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. Moving back and forth helps relax the muscles and ease tension, making it one of the best yoga stretches for lower back pain.

Other Pain-Relieving Stretches

Yoga for lower back pain doesn’t stop there, though. You can try the cobra pose — a gentle backbend that stretches the abdomen, chest, and shoulders — by lying on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders and your fingers facing forward. Draw the arms in tightly to your chest and press into your hands to slowly lift your upper body partway, halfway, or all the way up. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows as you go back down to your mat on an exhale.

Lower back yoga is important, but it’s not the only helpful type of stretch for your back pain. One of the best stretches Healthline suggests is the seated spinal twist:

  • Sit on the edge of a cushion with both legs extended out in front.
  • Bend the right knee and place your foot to the outside of your left thigh.
  • Lift your arms up with your palms facing each other.
  • Starting at the base of your spine, twist to the right side and place your right hand behind you for support.
  • Place your left arm around your right leg as though you’re hugging it. Hold this pose for up to a minute and repeat on the other side.

Takeaway

There are a large number of yoga poses to ease back pain. Start with the basics listed above, and you’ll be well on your journey to ridding yourself of that pesky back pain.

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