The lower back is a sensitive yet very active part of the body. As such, aches and pains in this region are common, and can be discomforting to say the least. However, carrying out a few simple exercises can relieve lower back tightness, strengthen your core and improve overall flexibility. Here are the best ten yoga poses for lower back pain.
1. Supine Twist
The Supine Twist stretches the lower back muscles and rotates the spine, helping to release tension and toxins. This pose is performed lying on your back, with your arms at your sides and both legs extended.
Pull either your left or right knee close to your chest and shift your hip so your body is facing the opposite side to the bent knee. For instance, if you’ve bent your right knee, angle your body left.
Put pressure on the bent knee to push down towards the floor, keeping both shoulders squared and rooted. Here, you should feel a stretch to your lower back and glutes. Repeat these steps on the opposite side.
Ideally, you should perform the Supine Twist on an empty stomach. Aim to stop eating four to six hours before performing this pose, so you have enough energy to expand.
DID YOU KNOW: Performing the Supine Twist helps improve your digestive system, as it increases the flow of fresh blood to your digestive organs.
2. Triangle Pose
The Triangle Pose is perfect for strengthening the lower back, reducing back pain and increasing spinal flexibility. It also works several core muscles, such as the legs, abdominals and obliques.
To execute the Triangle Pose, start with your feet around three to four feet apart. Hold out your arms in a horizontal position parallel to the floor with your palms facing down.
Lower your torso to one side and rotate either the left or right arm to the floor, while extending the opposite arm and keeping it straight.
Press one side of the hip forward and push the other side back. Hold this position for three to six breaths, before repeating it on the opposite side.
DID YOU KNOW: The Triangle Pose alleviates stress and depression by stimulating the nervous system.
3. Bridge Pose
The Bridge pose is a versatile pose for beginners which strengthens the entire back and gives the spine a good stretch.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Bring your feet towards you until you can touch your heels with your fingertips.
Then, inhale and lift your buttocks off the floor, clasp your hands together and extend your arms beneath your pelvis, straightening them as much as possible.
Hold the pose for five deep breaths and exhale as you slowly roll your spine along the floor, allowing your knees to drop together.
If it feels uncomfortable having your hands clasped beneath you, simply keep your palms facing down towards the ground.
DID YOU KNOW: The Bridge Pose is ideal for pregnant women as it strengthens the back, buttocks and hamstrings. It also calms the brain and improves blood circulation.
4. Cat-Cow Pose
The Cat-Cow stretch helps you effectively treat lower back pain while assuming the role of two animals at once!
This pose relieves lower back pain by improving the alignment of your spine, moving it from a rounded to an arched position.
Start on all fours, with your hips directly above your knees and your shoulders, elbows, and wrists perpendicular to the floor. This is known as the Table Pose.
Begin this pose by moving into the Cow position, inhaling and moving your belly towards the floor while lifting your head towards the ceiling.
As you exhale, get into the Cat position by pulling your belly into your spine, tucking your tailbone and allowing your chin to rest on your chest.
Repeat these movements for five to 10 breaths and end the movement in the Table Pose.
DID YOU KNOW: This pose benefits both your posture and your walk, by stretching the spine and neck.
5. Downward-Facing Dog
Sticking with the animalistic poses, this time we have the Downward-Facing Dog, which is a staple in yoga workouts. This pose stretches the backbone and spine and brings strength to your entire body.
Begin in the Table Pose, setting your hands shoulder width apart and keeping your knees parallel with your hips.
Keep your spine straight, tuck your toes under, and lift the hips towards the ceiling. This should bring your body into the shape of an A.
Your legs should also be straight, but if you find this position difficult, you can bend the knees slightly.
While doing the Downward-Facing dog, let your neck hang freely from your shoulders. Hold this pose for four to eight breaths and release yourself by gently bending your knees forward to return to the Table Pose.
DID YOU KNOW: The Downward-Facing Dog pose is one of the best yoga poses for relieving menopausal symptoms, as it inverts the body’s internal organs and increases blood flow to the brain, thus counteracting memory lapses.
6. Pigeon Pose
The final animalistic yoga pose on our list is the Pigeon Pose. Although it’s slightly challenging for yoga novices, this pose loosens the hips to reduce the risk of lower back pain.
Again, start in the Table Pose, then bend either your left or right knee and bring this leg forward. Whichever leg you bend, your ankle should touch the opposite hand. For instance, if you bring your left leg forward, your left ankle should touch your right hand.
Hold the position for five to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side and repeat. If your hips aren’t flexible enough to perform this action, you might find it easier to bring your heel closer into your body.
DID YOU KNOW: If you play pivot sports like football or tennis, the Pigeon Pose improves your range of motion by opening the hips and thus reducing strain on the knees.
7. Knees To Chest With Slow Rock
The Knees To Chest pose decompresses the lower back by stretching its muscles and restores flexibility to this region.
To perform this pose, lie flat on your back, bring your knees to your chest and hold them together. Pull your legs towards your chest in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction, as shown in the video above, rocking the pelvis and keeping your back arched as you go.
Alternate the direction in which you rotate the pelvis, before gently lowering one leg at a time once you’ve finished.
DID YOU KNOW: This pose provides relief from excess digestive air, indigestion and bloating, among other things.
8. Locust Pose
The Locust Pose strengthens the muscles along the side of the lower back and helps protect your lower back curve.
Rest your head on a mat and lay down on your belly, with your arms alongside your body and your palms facing up.
Raise your head forward and lift your chest and feet. Pull your arms back towards your feet and rest your body weight on your lower ribs, belly and pelvis.
Another option is to clasp your hands behind your lower back, reaching your knuckles toward your heels.
When performing this pose, make sure you are distributing the backbend motion across your entire back.
DID YOU KNOW: The Locust Pose regulates metabolism and helps you lose weight.
9. Reclining Head-To-Toe
The Reclining Hand-To-Toe pose is great for relieving lower back pain and works various leg muscles, such as the hamstring, inner thigh and groin.
Lie on your back and draw either your left or right thigh towards your chest by bending your knee. Exhale and straighten the knee so that your leg is in an almost vertical position.
Use a strap to hold your foot in place, as shown in the video above. However, if you don’t have this, you can use your hand.
The important point here is to make sure you maintain the natural curve in your lower back. Hold this pose for five breaths, slowly release your upright leg to the floor and repeat on the opposite side.
DID YOU KNOW: The Reclining Hand-To-Toe pose is said to aid recovery from cardiac conditions, relieve sciatica and remove arthritis in the hip joints.
10. Sphinx Pose
Last but not least is the Sphinx Pose, a great pose for supporting the lower back’s natural curve. This prepares the body for more advanced backbends if you’re relatively new to yoga.
Start by lying on your stomach with your feet set hip-width apart and the elbows positioned under the shoulders. Your chin should be pointing towards the floor and your legs should be together.
Pull up the kneecaps, squeezing the thighs and buttocks, and press your pubic bone into the floor.
Next, drop your shoulders back away from the neck and push your chest forward. Breathe and hold this pose for two to six breaths.
To finish, exhale, bring your elbows to your sides and slowly lower the chest and head to the floor.
DID YOU KNOW: As well as relieving lower back pain, the Sphinx Pose lengthens the abdominal muscles, soothes the nervous system and mitigates fatigue.
Hopefully, you can recommend these yoga poses for lower back pain to a client or friend.
If you’re a yoga instructor, Insure4Sport offers yoga instructor insurance to protect you against a number of unexpected incidents such an injury to another person, which may occur when practising these poses.