5 Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain
Author - Alyssa Rimmer
These are the 5 best yoga poses for lower back pain. These easy and effective exercises can be done at home and will help you heal from lower back pain!
Today we're talking about something that a ton of us struggle with on a daily basis: lower back pain. Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor's office. I'm sure some of you reading have experienced the exact same thing.
And guess what? So have I.
About a year ago, I experienced my first lower back issues. I was exercising at home and all of a sudden my back just seized. I was in crippling pain and could barely walk. It was the first real injury I've had and it was quite the situation to get used to! I had to slow down, rest and find a way to heal.
Over the last year, I've tried it all. I've done chiropractic care, I've done acupuncture, I've gone the traditional Western medicine route, I've done massage, yoga, physical therapy, you name it. While many of them have helped, none of them have actually healed my lower back.
I'm still not entirely sure what happened to my back, but out of everything that I've done, my consistent yoga practice has helped the most. At first, I wasn't able to do many poses – upward dog and other backbends were super painful. So I modified. I didn't push myself as far. And I let my body tell me what it could do rather than forcing my body to go farther.
Slowly but surely I started to feel better. The pain subsided and I had more flexibility. Now I'm about 90% healed and back to my normal exercise routine!
As with every post I write, I want this to be more than just a story – I want it to be helpful for you. Some of you may be reading this while you're in the throes of intense back pain, so I wanted to share the top 5 yoga poses for lower back pain that helped me most while I was healing.
The 5 Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain
There are quite a few yoga poses that can help with lower back pain, but I wanted to keep this list shot, but also relevant. So we've narrowed it down to my top 5. If you've taken a yoga class before, then I'm sure you'll recognize most of these poses.
If you're totally brand new to yoga, don't worry. These poses are easy, gentle and don't require much flexibility. But also ones that were recommended to me by chiropractors and physical therapists.
1. Cat & Cow
This simple yoga pose helps to open up your lower back, increase flexibility and give your spine a bit more movement. It's very gentle, but when you're doing it, only goes as far as your range of motion allows.
To do cat cow, simply place your knees and hands on the floor (in a tabletop position) and begin by dropping your belly and lifting your head (this is cow). Next, drop your head and puff up your back (this is cat). Repeat this 10 – 20 times, moving slowly and gently.
2. Child's Pose
Probably one of the best yoga poses ever, child's pose is the standard resting pose in yoga. This pose is great for giving your lower back relief while still lengthening it. It's also great for opening up and stretching your shoulder muscles.
To do child's pose, come down to your knees on the floor. Bring your toes together and spread your knees hip widths apart. Then slowly fold forward and lay your stomach on top of your knees. If possible, put your arms and hands above your head on the floor to get a good stretch into your shoulders. Stay in child's pose for as long as feels good!
3. Spinal Twist
Twists have amazing benefits for your body. Not are they healthy for your spine, but they're also great for digestion. Think of twists as an internal ring out of your organs. Plus, they feel great.
To do a spinal twist, lie on your back. Bring one leg up to your chest and give it a gentle squeeze. Fold that knee across your body and allow it to rest on the ground. Take your gaze in the opposite direction of your knee and take at least 10 breaths. Come back to center and repeat with the other leg.
4. Half Happy Baby
I personally carry a lot of tension in my hips, so this pose mostly works that area of my body, BUT half happy baby (and full happy baby) are also really great for relieving tension on your lower back. If you are in a lot of pain or do not have great flexibility, I recommend sticking with half happy baby as it less pressure on your joints and doesn't involve quite as deep of a stretch.
To do half happy baby, lie on your back. Bring one leg up to your chest and give it a gentle squeeze. Grab a hold of the bottom of your foot (on the same leg) and straighten your calf. The bottom of your foot should be facing the ceiling and your shin will be perpendicular to your body. Hold for 10 – 12 breaths (moving back and forth if that feels good), then release and repeat with the other leg.
5. Legs Up The Wall
My all-time favorite yoga pose because it just feels so darn good. I often end my yoga classes with legs up the wall because it's relaxing, but also amazing for my lower back. Legs up the wall is a great way to straighten out your spine, remove pressure on your lower lumbar area, as well as drain lactic acid from your legs. It's actually also an amazing pose after you've done a tough workout and will help reduce muscle soreness.
To do legs up the wall, scooch your butt as close the wall as possible. Lay down parallel to the wall, then spin your body so your head is facing the center of the room and place your legs so they are going up the wall. Your body will essentially look like an “L” shape against the wall – your legs are up, your body is flat on the floor. Lay in this pose for as long as feels good!
Now that you have these poses at your disposal, it's time to add them into your routine. When I was really struggling, I was doing these twice a day, morning and night. I recommend doing them whenever they fit into your schedule best. So find a time in the day that you can build these into your routine – because in the long run, consistency, rest and gentle movement is the fastest way to heal.