11 Easy Yoga Poses for Back Pain
Back pain can make life difficult. These eleven best yoga poses for back pain can help ease discomfort so you can live your best life.
Are you living with back pain?
Inflammation and tight muscles in the back are a common complaint. And, if you sit a lot during the day, have an old sports injury, or lead a very active lifestyle, you probably experience back pain from time to time.
While you might think of yoga as an exercise routine, it can also be a powerful tool for relieving your back pain. And, because it's a mindful practice like meditation, it can improve your mood and mental health, too!
If you've never tried yoga or you aren't very flexible, don't worry. There are plenty of poses on this list that are perfect for beginners.
Keep reading to learn about the best yoga poses for back pain, plus our top tips for fast relief.
The Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain: Some Quick Tips
If you're practicing yoga for a bad back, remember to start slow and be gentle. You can gradually work your way deeper into these poses.
And, for extremely tight muscles, you can apply gentle heat therapy for up to ten minutes before starting your session. This helps to increase circulation and reduce stiffness and inflammation.
In addition to a yoga mat, some extra props like a block and bolster can be helpful. But, you can use items from your home, like a stack of books or a rolled-up blanket if you're just getting started. Now, without further ado, here's how to do some of the poses we've been talking about.
1. Supine Twist
This twist is a perfect opening pose. It helps relieve tension through the entire neck and back, warming your muscles up for deeper poses.
Start this pose laying on your back, with your arms in a T-shape on the floor. Then, bring your knees towards your chest, sliding your feet along your mat toward your lower back.
Next, lower both knees to the left, letting gravity drag them toward the ground. Lift your knees back to center position and repeat on the right side.
2. Child's Pose
This resting pose is one of the best yoga stretches for lower and upper back pain. And, for most people, it's a comfortable position to hold for up to a minute, allowing you to slowly sink deeper into the stretch.
Start by sitting on your knees, spread slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Then, slowly stretch forward, sliding your arms out in front of you on the mat, allowing gravity to pull your forehead down toward the floor. If you aren't very flexible, use a bolster or a blanket to support your head.
You should be sitting back on your hips, with your tailbone extending out and straight back. Keep your big toes touching.
This two-part pose gently stretches the hips and spine and is a great way to get the blood flowing to your back.
First, come into "tabletop position" on your hands and knees. Inhale and lift your chest and tailbone towards the ceiling. Then, exhale, arch your back, and drop your head.
Slowly roll your spine into these two opposite and alternating positions with the rhythm of your breath.
4. Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog is a powerful standing pose, ideal for stretching the hamstrings and decompressing the spine.
Start by coming into your tabletop pose again. Then, while keeping your hands firmly planted, tuck your toes under your feet and push your tailbone up towards the ceiling.
At first, you'll want to keep your knees bent for a gentle stretch. Then, slowly straighten one leg at a time, bringing your heel closer to the ground.
Throughout this pose, you'll want to draw your shoulder blades back and down towards your spine.
5. Sphinx Pose
This pose stimulates the sacral-lumbar arch, promoting the natural curvature of the lower back. So, it is especially helpful for anyone who sits a lot during the day.
Start by laying flat on your stomach, with your feet hip-width apart and your arms outstretched. Then, bring your elbows in toward your torso until they are directly under your shoulders. Your forearms should be in line with the rest of your body.
Then, push up with your forearms while raising your head and chest. Look straight forward. Hold the pose for a few seconds, then slowly lower back down.
6. Locust Pose
The locust pose is a slightly more intense stretch than the sphinx. Not only is this posture ideal for releasing pressure in the lower back, but it also strengthens the torso, arms, and legs.
Begin by laying on your stomach with both of your arms stretching back alongside your body, with your palms facing up. Your feet should be directly behind your body, with your big toes touching and your heels turned out to each side.
Slowly lift your head, chest, and arms up off the mat. Then, lift your legs too. Look straight ahead and stretch your head forward, lengthening the spine.
For a deeper stretch, you can interlace your fingers behind your back and push out toward your feet. Keep breathing while you hold this pose, and slowly release back down onto your mat.
7. Extended Triangle
If you aren't very flexible, grab a yoga block or stack of books before starting this pose.
Begin in a standing position with your right foot in front of the left, spread about four feet apart. Keep the toes of your right foot facing forward, and turn the toes of your left foot out toward the edge of your mat at an angle.
Then, lift your arms parallel to the floor with your palms facing down. Slowly tilt forward, bending your right hip while keeping your back straight. Bring your right leg down toward your block or stack of books.
Extend your left arm up over your head toward the ceiling, and turn your head up to look toward your left fingertips. Hold this position for a few breaths, then release and switch to your opposite side.
8. Mountain Pose
Mountain pose is one of the best yoga moves for back pain because it stretches and elongates your spine, improving your posture and releasing muscle tension.
Start by standing with your feet together. Your big toes should touch and your heels should be slightly apart. Tuck your tailbone in under your spine and hold your abs and thighs tight.
Rotate your shoulders back slightly so that the palms of your hands are facing forward, and your arms are stretching gently down and outward. Keep your neck neutral and relaxed, and look straight ahead as you reach your spine upwards towards the ceiling.
9. Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is both a backbend and an inversion, so it is beneficial for releasing built-up tension in the lower back.
Start by laying on your back with your knees bent. Draw your heels back toward your body until they nearly touch your tailbone.
Your arms should rest alongside your body with your palms facing down. Plant your feet and palms firmly, and lift your tailbone up towards the ceiling. Keep lifting until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
If you struggle to maintain this position, place your yoga block or stack of books under the tailbone to support your spine. You can also set a bolster or rolled-up blanket under your neck for added comfort.
Hold this pose for a few breaths, then slowly lower your tailbone back toward the floor, releasing your spine from the position one vertebrae at a time.
10. Thread the Needle
Also known as the figure four, this stretch releases tension in the hips and hamstrings, offering relief for lower back pain.
To start this deep stretch, lay flat on your back with the soles of your feet on the ground, hip-distance apart. Next, place your right ankle on top of your left thigh, keeping your foot flexed.
Then, interlace your fingers behind the left knee, creating a circle around your left leg. For a deeper stretch, you can hug the left leg toward your body. Hold the pose for a few seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
11. Half Lord of the Fishes
This seated twist is a great way to give your spine one last rotation before resting. It is a deeper version of the supine twist that also releases tension and reduces pain in the shoulders and neck.
Start by sitting with your legs crossed, left over right. Draw your right foot in as close to your left hip as possible. Then, raise your left knee and draw your left foot toward the outside of your right knee.
Plant your left hand on the mat behind you for support and use your right arm to hug your raised, left knee. This helps your body naturally twist.
Sit straight up and lengthen your spine as you turn your body to the left. And try to keep your hips as level as possible. Hold this pose for a few deep breaths before releasing and repeating it on your right side.
Now that you've learned about the best yoga poses for back pain, you're ready to start stretching.
Remember to practice each pose, beginning with a gentle motion. Then, sink deeper into the position as you feel more comfortable and flexible. And, don't be afraid to use your props for added support when you need them.
If you're practicing yoga to help back pain, consider incorporating other treatments like acupuncture, therapeutic exercise, and chiropractic care into your healthcare routine.
Read through our other blog posts for more helpful tips and information on overcoming back pain.