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Three Yoga Poses For Back Pain



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Three Yoga Poses For Back Pain

“The pain is there as a teacher...We must not try to run from the pain but to move through and beyond it.” B.K.S. Iyengar, Light On Life

Pain is our body’s way of saying, “Stop. Something is wrong. Let’s fix this.” 

The practice of yoga teaches us the first step to healing is recognizing our pain through awareness. 

If you are reading this article, you have already completed this step. You have identified there is pain in your low back. 

Once we are aware of our pain, then comes learning. The process of learning happens when we start to make adjustments based on what your pain is telling us. What is causing our pain? Is there a lifestyle choice we need to reduce? Or is there something we need to add to our lifestyle to create balance? These are questions to consider when low back pain (or any pain) comes to the surface. 

Below are three simple poses to get you started on this journey of healing through learning. As you read and practice, remain aware and curious. Remain an eager student of life, taking this discomfort as an opportunity to grow in knowledge and strength. 

A Tool For Your Journey: The Sensation Scale (1 to 10, 1 being no sensation and 10 being pain)

As you come into these postures, play in the 3-7 range of sensation. Remember, pain is a message. Listen carefully to your body as you practice. 


1. Child's Pose (Balasana).

This pose is wonderful for those of us whose lives require heavy lifting; mothers, strength trainers, construction workers etc., Frequent lifting causes our hips to tighten and our low backs to be strained. When you cannot eliminate a source of pain, you can create balance by practicing poses that counteract your strenuous activity.

In Child’s pose, your low back is allowed to lengthen and rest, while your hips get a well deserved deep stretch. 

How: 

  • Come on to your hands and knees. 

  • Separate the knees wider than the hips to your degree of comfort. 

  • Sink your hips onto your heels (Remember the sensation scale!) 

  • Begin to walk your palms forward on the mat, allowing your heart and head to melt towards the ground. (If your head can’t land on the ground, place a yoga block or a towel underneath your forehead.)

  • Keep your arms extended in front of you, spread the palms wide as you press them down

  • With your arms stretched forward, imagine sinking the tailbone down in the opposite direction of your hands, creating length and an opening for your low back 

  • Embrace this new shape with a few breaths or up to a few minutes.

Helpful hint: For the purpose of low back pain, bringing a blanket or pillow underneath the forehead to keep the spine long. 


2. Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana).

This pose is perfect for those who spend most of their time seated; students, attorneys, computer techs etc., Extraneous time in a chair weakens the low back and makes you especially susceptible to pain. Here too, eliminating the source is not necessarily an option. However, if possible, taking walking or standing breaks can help for immediate balance. 

In Sphinx pose, you rest into the natural curvature of your spine, while strengthening your low back. It may seem scary to use your low back when it’s feeling pain. But remember your scale. Your pain is there to teach, as you grow stronger, this pose will cause less discomfort. 

How: 

  • Relax onto your belly 

  • Bring your legs into a “V” shape behind you, bringing the feet wider than the hips

  • Bring your elbows beneath your shoulders 

  • As you firm your belly, reach your heart up off the earth to create a gentle compression in your low back. 

  • Relax your shoulders down and think of your shoulder blades gently pressing together

  • If the sensation feels too intense, allow your elbows to extend in front of the shoulders.

  • Enjoy for a few breaths or up to 3 minutes


Helpful hint: Play with how high you bring the heart. Less sensation = heart closer to the floor. More sensation = heart further from the floor. Also, relax your legs and allow your heels to roll out to broaden the lower back. 


3. Figure Four (Supta Kapotāsana).

This pose is excellent for those of us who spend much of our time standing or moving; runners, retail employees, nurses, veterinarians, etc., When experiencing frequent compression of the low back, it is necessary to create balance through release and relaxation.

Similar to Child’s Pose, Figure Four allows your low back to release as your hips are given a deep stretch. Figure four offers the added bonus of using the ground to apply pressure to the low back. (Like giving yourself a massage) 

How: 

  • Lay down on your back, knees bent with the soles of your feet on the floor.

  • Pause a moment to feel your spine rest on the floor. (ahhh)

  • Extend your right leg towards the sky and then rest your right heel on your left thigh.

  • If you feel adequate sensation here (see scale), remain

  • If appropriate, you’re going to hug your left thigh to your heart. 

    • Bring your right hand in between your thighs

    • Left hand will reach to the left rear of your thigh to meet your right hand behind your left thigh.

    • Interlace your fingers or clasp your hands behind your left thigh and hug your leg in towards you.(Think of your legs folding into your heart verses pulling your legs with your hands). 

  • Keep your shoulders as relaxed as possible.

  • Enjoy for a few breaths or up to 5 minutes

  • Repeat on left side

Helpful Hint: For double your pleasure, gently rock yourself back and forth to stimulate, apply pressure and release your low back. 

If you can breathe, you can do Yoga.

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