12 Yoga Poses to Relieve Lower Back Pain


Photo by Rilind Modigliani

Lower back pain is not uncommon, and there can be a number of reasons for it ranging from injuries to poor posture and more. One reason I've heard more people complain about lower back pain since the start of the pandemic is the switch to working from home, and with gyms and studios being closed, the result has been less movement, longer hours sitting, and quite often in whatever uncomfortable chair you happen to have at your home desk! Once the pain kicks in, it tends to be even less inspiring to move, which continues to perpetuate the tension.


Whatever your reason for lower back pain, the gentle yoga poses below are a great way to restore your body back into working order. Of course, if you are healing from an injury it would be wise to consult your physician or physical therapist before introducing movement to your recovery process.


Practice these poses with me in a 30-minute sequence:




Child's Pose (Balasana)


Start off kneeling down and take your knees out as wide as would feel comfortable. Have your big toes touching. Lower your hips down towards your heals. A nice option can be to place a pillow or rolled up blanket in between your hips and calves, especially if your hips don't come all the way down onto your heels. walk your arms out and place your palms down. Lower your forehead down towards the mat or rest it on a pillow. Stay for 2 to 4 minutes.


Cat and Cow


Come into a table top position, stacking shoulders above wrists, and hips above your knees. Knees can be hips width distance apart. Take a breath in. With your exhale, press into your hands, draw your belly button towards your spine, and curl the tailbone under as you begin to round the back. With your inhale drop your belly, arching your spine and lifting your gaze. Continue for a few gentle rounds, paying close attention to the sensation in your lower back.


Runner's Lunge


From your table top position step one foot in between your hands, stacking your knee above your ankle. For less intensity, bring your hands down to a pair of blocks at any height. Drop your shoulders down your back and lift your chest. Let your hips sink forward and down. This can be nice when paired with a half-splits where you take your hips back and straighten your front leg. Stay for about a minute on each side.


Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)


From your table top position walk your hands forward about a hand print. Slowly begin to lift your knees off the ground, sending your tailbone up towards the ceiling. Lengthen your spine and feel free to keep a generous bend in the knees in order to keep a flat back. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Press your heels back. You might try peddling out your dog by slowly bending one knee and then the other. Hold for one to two minutes.


Forward Fold (Uttanasana)


From your Down Dog, walk your hands and feet to the center of your mat. Keep your feet hips width apart. Bend your knees generously. Bring your hands down to the floor or a pair of blocks. Distribute the weight evenly in your feet. A nice option can be to come into a rag doll and grab onto opposite elbows. Let your head and neck be free and heavy. You might also add a gentle sway from side to side. Hold for a minute or two.


Yogi Squat (Malasana)


From your forward fold turn your toes out and heels in. Keep your knees in line with your toes. Bring your hands together in front of your heart with your elbows to the inside of your knees. If this feels too intense you can sit down on a block under your hips. If your heels lift off the mat you can roll up a blanket and place it under. Keep your chest lifted and your shoulders down your back. Stay for one to two minutes.


Sphynx


Lie down on your belly and come onto your forearms, stacking your shoulders above your elbows. Draw your shoulders down your back. Soften your glutes and the back of your legs. Stay here for a minute or two.


Reclined Knee-to-Chest


Start off by lying on your back. Draw both knees in to your chest. For less intensity have your knees closer towards your hips. You can draw little circles with your knees here or rock from side to side for a subtle massage through the lower back. For a different variation you can do this one leg at a time. Extend one leg down to the mat or keep that knee bent with the sole of your foot on the mat. Stay in either of these variations for one to three minutes.


Bridge Pose


Start off by lying on your back with your feet hips width apart and knees bent. Take a gentle pelvic tilt for a few rounds, drawing your navel in and curling your tailbone towards your pubic bone. Release back down and repeat. To come into Bridge pose continue your pelvic tilt and then lift your hips off the ground. A nice, stabilizing option is to place a block in between your thighs and squeeze it as you come up. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths and then lower down, vertebra by vertebra.


Reclined Figure 4


Start by lying on your back. Cross one ankle over the opposite thigh. Thread your arms in between your legs and grab onto your thigh. Draw your legs as close to your chest as feels comfortable. Flex your toes to protect your knees. A soothing option can be to rock from side to side before coming to stillness. Hold for one to two minutes before moving to the other side.


Happy Baby


Lying on your back take your knees out wide and bring your hands to your knees. Keep your tailbone rooted into the mat. If this feels like enough for you stay here. Otherwise bring your hands to your shins, ankles, outer edges of your feet or with your peace fingers grab onto your big toes, gently drawing your knees towards your armpits.


Reclined Supine Twist


Starting off on your back draw your knees in to your chest and then let them fall to one side. Adjust your hips if you need to by bringing them back in line with your rib cage. Extend your opposite arm out in the other direction letting your gaze follow. You might support your knees with a pillow underneath your bottom knee and/or in between your knees.


If you are a very busy person you can choose a few poses from this list that feel best to get started and create your own sequence to follow for 10 to 15 minutes a day or twice a day if you can until the tension in your lower back is gone. If you feel great after practicing these poses and would like to make yoga a more regular part of your life I invite you to start a free 7-day trial of my online studio membership.



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