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Can Yoga Help With Back Pain

How Long Should You Spend Doing Yoga

Can yoga help chronic lower back pain?

I have participated in many yoga classes, and they seem to go on forever.  I think that is because I am not a yogi by nature, or I have a short attention span.

I can go to the gym and workout for more than an hour, no problem, but put me in a class setting for an hour, and I struggle. How did I even make it through school?

The great thing about yoga is you dont have to spend an hour or longer in a hot and sweaty yoga class unless of course, you want to.  You can start with as little as 10 minutes per day to see results.


I have been watching short yoga videos online and have noticed a significant improvement in my hip tightness and flexibility.  I believe that doing a small amount of yoga on a regular basis can provide substantial benefits.

How Yoga Can Help With Back Pain

Have you tried everything that conventional medicine has to offer for your spinal problem but are still hurtingand as such are looking for an alternative?

Or perhaps a friend or family member has been urging you to try yoga, saying that it worked miracles for their lower back pain. Or you may simply instinctively feel that if you did yoga every day, you could work out the kinks” that cause the discomfort in your back.

Most likely, you are on the right track with this thinking. But if you suffer from back or neck pain, some preliminary knowledge is in order to help keep your yoga practice safe, productive, and tailored to your specific needs.

For someone who lives with back or neck pain, finding the right yoga class can be a bit like “swimming with the sharks.” You, your teacher and friends, and your fellow yogis may mean well with their suggestions, but unfortunately, this does not guarantee the experience is a good fit for you. It does not even guarantee that you will be able to do everything safely.


But approaching yoga armed with the information you need to make good decisions may help you avoid doing more harm than good to your neck or back. Learn more below about how to get started with a yoga program designed to heal your back, or at the very least, not hurt it.

Yoga Poses For Back Pain

Even the simple poses described below can help you reap the benefits of yoga. However, these poses and the number of times you do them every day are general guidelines for how to maintain a healthy spine. Talk to your doctor before incorporating these yoga poses into your routine.

Cat/Cow Stretch

  • Start on all fourson your hands and knees. Your hands and arms should be shoulder-distance apart and your knees should be hip-distance apart.
  • Inhale, and then as you exhale, slowly start to draw your navel toward your spine and gently tuck your tailbone.
  • As you inhale again, repeat the pose. Be sure to link your breath to your movement.
  • Repeat the cat/cow stretch 5 to 10 times once a day.

Yoga Cat Pose. Photo Source: 123RF.com. Standing Forward Fold

Bridge Pose


  • Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Your feet should be hip-distance apart.
  • With your arms straight by the sides of your body and your palms on the ground, slowly start to lift your hips off the floor. Hold this for 3 seconds.
  • Slowly roll back down to the floor, vertebra by vertebra.
  • Repeat the bridge pose 3 times once a day.

Yoga Bridge Pose. Photo Source: 123RF.com.In addition, with back pain, your abdominal muscles may be weak, so while it’s important to choose yoga poses that lengthen and strengthen your spine, you should also do poses that develop strong abdominals, such as opposite hands and knees balance.

Opposite Hands and Knees Balance

Proper Form Is Especially Important For People With Back Pain

The main issue with yoga-related back injuries is that people dont follow proper form and speed, says Dr. Lauren Elson, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “They quickly drop into a yoga pose without gradually lengthening into it.”

This is similar to jerking your body while lifting a dumbbell and doing fast reps instead of making a slow, controlled movement, or running on a treadmill at top speed without steadily increasing the tempo. The result is a greater chance of injury.

In yoga, you should use your muscles to first create a solid foundation for movement, and then follow proper form that slowly lengthens and stretches your body. For example, when I perform my seated twist, I have to remember that the point of the pose is not to rotate as fast and far as possible. Instead, I need to activate my core muscles and feel as though my spine is lengthening. Then I can twist slowly until I feel resistance, and hold for as long as its comfortable and the tension melts away.


Cat And Cow Pose Loosen The Back And Warm You Up

The perfect poses for an achy, sore back, Cow and Cat stretches loosen your back muscles, whether as part of a yoga routine or as a warm-up for another workout.

Try it: Starting in an all-fours position, move into Cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up and arching your back. Hold for a few seconds and then move to Cow by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. Moving back and forth from Cat to Cow helps move your spine onto a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension.

Repeat 10 times, flowing smoothly from Cat into Cow, and Cow back into Cat. Repeat the sequence as needed.

Aids In Stretching Out

Well instructed stretching generally reduces back pain, as ithelps circulate blood efficiently through the entire body, including the brain.Yoga centers at N Stoddard Avenue practice deep stretches. They use acombination of static and loaded stretches to allow a maximum range of motion,simultaneously stabilizing joints.

About 26% of the young population endure back pain in Kansas City. Outdoor yoga events likeYoga on the Lawn, are fueling the trend of yoga guided stretching, among the young people, to overcome the pain.


Chair Yoga For Back Pain

Are you looking for a quick and easy way to get relief or help prevent back pain? A short chair yoga sequence of poses and exercises can be a good way to combat the pain and soreness you feel in your lower and/or upper back.

Read on to learn how you can use this 10 minute chair yoga practice to address your back pain.

Complementary Therapies For Back Pain

When you are done with your yoga poses and stretches, consider taking a warm bath or using heat therapy, such as a heating pad. When used as directed by your doctor, these at-home remedies can help to release muscle tension and keep your lower back limber and free of pain.

If you are searching for an effective solution that doesnt require heat, consider using laser light therapy belts for back pain. Using the power of photobiomodulation therapy , formerly often referred to as low-level light therapy , these devices are helpful for reducing muscle spasms, inflammation, and discomfort without the use of pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures. Best of all, laser light therapy belts are easy to use, are durable enough for daily wear, and have no known side effects.

Starting Yoga If You Have Back Pain

How yoga can help lower back pain


Talk to your doctor first about whether its okay to begin a yoga program if you suffer from low back pain. Dr. Elson suggests staying away from yoga if you have certain back problems, such as a spinal fracture or a herniated disc.

Once you have the green light, you can protect your back by telling your yoga instructor beforehand about specific pain and limitations. He or she can give you protective modifications for certain poses, or help guide you through a pose to ensure you do it correctly without stressing your back. Another option is to look for yoga studios or community centers that offer classes specifically designed for back pain relief.

Remember that the stretching and lengthening yoga movements are often what your low back needs to feel better, so dont be afraid to give it a try. “By mindfully practicing yoga, people can safely improve their mobility and strength while stretching tight and aching back muscles,” says Dr. Elson.

About Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation

At the UPMC Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, we strive to improve your function after injury or illness. Through inpatient therapy at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute and outpatient therapy at clinics throughout western Pennsylvania, we help patients recover from functional, pain-related, and neurological conditions. The Department of PM&R is a leader in research, therapy, and advanced rehabilitation technology not only dedicated to providing you with exceptional clinical care, but focused on developing new technologies and treatments to help you achieve mobility and maintain independence.

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The Long Answer Is: It Can Be A Lot More Complicated

Everybodys pain is different. Its important to respond to low back pain with a very targeted approach. Why? There can be multiple reasons behind low back pain. For some, the problem is decreased mobility in the hips. For others, the issue may be decreased lower abdominal strength. I like yoga because it promotes general movement.

But it isnt a targeted solution. I cant guarantee that a one-size-fits-all yoga class is the right solution for YOUR pain.

With that being said, Physical Therapists often incorporate similar exercises/stretches performed during yoga for the treatment of low back pain. If youre interested in how physical therapy can help, you can learn more here.

Types Of Yoga For Back Pain

There are a variety of yoga styles, but some are better for relieving back pain than others. Read about some of the most popular types of practice for people who have back pain. Learning the distinctions between the different styles can help you find the one that is right for you.

Here are a few of the main types of yoga for lower back pain:

Final Thoughts On Relieving Upper Back Pain With Yoga

While no pose or stretch is going to keep you from having any back pain, you can add these maneuvers to your daily routine to help strengthen and align your spine. The connective tissues and muscles in this area often become inflamed and sore from the pressure of slipped disks, twisted vertebrae, and other common problems.

Its good to know that there are things that can be done to help alleviate the tension and strain you feel. You might want to add seeing a chiropractor regularly to your pain management schedule if youre not getting the relief you need. Once you start getting manual adjustments from this holistic practitioner and doing these stretches, you can open a whole new world to you free of upper back pain and good spinal health.

Do you want to try to tap into the fountain of youth with your back? Whats holding you back from starting these yoga poses right now? You can strengthen your muscles and joints and improve your ability to move your spinal area.

Can Yoga Help Lower Back Pain

The Risk of Lower Back Pain

How Can Yoga Help Lower Back Pain?

Research on Yoga and Back Pain

Archives of Internal Medicine

Also, many healthcare professionals say that mood is a huge factor in terms of physical pain, especially back pain. Though psychological factors are rarely the cause of severe and prolonged pain, they can influence it immensely but its up to you to decide if the influence is bad or good! Thankfully, recent Harvard medical studies found substantial evidence showing that yoga is effective in treating anxiety and depression, so practicing yoga can influence your physical well being by improving mental health in addition to physical health.

Yoga Poses That Can Help Relieve Upper Back Pain

Do you suffer from upper back pain? You should know that youre not alone in your struggles. The medical community estimates that almost 80 percent of the population will struggle with back pain during their lifetime.

The pain you experience can be mild or severe, as well as acute or chronic. It all depends on what is causing the problem, such as a slipped disk or inflammation. No matter what the cause, back pain can be torture.

Have you ever heard the saying used by many fitness gurus that youre only as old as your spine? Well, its a true statement. As you age, your spine and bones become weaker, and you may experience more upper back pain than you did when you were younger.

When you have back problems, yoga is one of the best things you can do to help bring relief. Many people immediately want to go for pain management and try to put a band-aid on the situation. Still, its better to stretch the muscles and surrounding tissues rather than taking medications.

If youre ready to kick back pain to the curb, then here are seven yoga poses that can help you find the relief you crave.

How To Find A Certified Yoga Instructor

Finding the right yoga instructor with the proper training is critical to keeping your yoga practice safe and beneficial for back pain. 

An improperly trained yoga instructor may not know how to modify poses or use props properly or have experience working with individuals who have chronic back pain. As such, its vital to take a yoga class under an instructor with the right credentials.

The most well-respected certification for yoga teachers is the RYT . Yoga teachers will have either an RYT-200 or RYT-500 after their name. This indication means they have completed training at a Registered Yoga School for either 200 or 500 hours. 

If you have chronic back pain, you may prefer to take a yoga class with an instructor who has completed the RYT-500 training rather than the RYT-200. The 500-hour training course goes into greater depth and requires more teaching hours, meaning the teacher may have more experience working with folks who have chronic back pain.

How Yoga Helps With Back Pain

Can Yoga Help Back Pain with Spondylolisthesis? Must Know This!

Many of the foundational poses and stretches in yoga practice can also help to keep your lower back healthy. According to Spine Universe, yoga for chronic lower back pain is also based on clinical evidence. One study involving over 300 adults showed that those who participated in a regular yoga routine saw an improvement in mobility and a reduction in pain.

Learn the specific ways you can help to reduce your back symptoms:

How Yoga Can Help To Relieve Back Pain

This is one of the reasons yoga is good for anyone who wants to know how to treat back pain. Yoga teaches you how to move around properly and stay fit while you are doing it. The stretches you learn will keep you limber throughout the day. By moving around, you help keep your back straight and reduce stress.

Yoga is also excellent at improving your posture and reducing stress. Many of the poses can help you move more freely and have more energy than if you were not practicing yoga. The poses will encourage you to do things in a more relaxed way and they will also help to strengthen your muscles.

If you have a bad posture, yoga can help you correct it. This is due to the fact that you can learn to move your body in the proper way and will be able to achieve better posture as you practice yoga.

Finally, if you suffer from back pain, yoga can help you to relieve the symptoms. It will not cure the problem itself, but it can help to speed up the healing process and help you to feel better right away.

In short, yoga is not just for your yoga pants. It can benefit you in so many ways. You should check it out today!

Yoga can improve your posture by helping to make your lower back straight. This will help you avoid straining and fatigue that are caused by a crooked back. The benefits of this are tremendous for your overall health. It can also reduce stress and your overall weight.

Biological Mechanisms Of Yoga On Back Pain

A few studies have explored the mechanisms by which yoga might affect back pain. Sherman et al. and Lee et al. investigated several possible mediators, including serotonin, cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone , and brain derived neurotrophic factor . Additionally Sherman et al. investigated psychological factors that may mediate the effect of yoga on back pain.

These factors included cognitive appraisal measures , affect and stress , physical activity, and neuroendocrine function . Neuroendocrine function was measured with cortisol and DHEA levels from saliva samples. The goal was to identify which measure had the biggest effect on back-related dysfunction in the yoga versus stretching versus self-care groups. Self-efficacy, and hours of back exercise were the most significant contributors to the effect of yoga. Sleep disturbance also played a small role. No effect was seen from cortisol or DHEA levels. Yoga and stretching had similar effects. One limit was the fairly healthy study population.

The Three Best Poses For Back Pain

You should always consult a medical professional, such as a doctor or physical therapist, before beginning a yoga program. However, once you are ready to start, you may be wondering what the best poses are for chronic back pain. If you are looking to establish a regular yoga practice with chronic back pain, make sure to include these three fundamental poses in your routine.

  • Cat-Cow Pose

The Cat and Cow poses are classic yoga moves used to warm up the joints before practice and alleviate back pain. These poses have been paired together because they are performed seamlessly, flowing back and forth between the two at your own pace.

To perform Cat-Cow, start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. As you inhale, lift your bottom and shoulders, arching your back upward. Take your gaze upward and slightly behind you. This pose is Cow pose.

On your exhale, push through the tabletop position and drop your bottom and shoulders, rounding your back. Your back should form an upside-down C-shape. This pose is Cat pose. 

Pairing your breath with the movements, flow back and forth between these poses for 5-10 breaths.

  • Seated Twist 

The Seated Twist pose, also known as Half Lord of the Fishes in Sanskrit, gently stretches and lengthens the spine through twisting. It can help alleviate low back pain and improve your seated and standing posture.

  • Extended Puppy Pose

Mental Benefits Of Yoga Exercises

Engaging in Hatha yoga affords the practitioner with a mental state of mind that is ready for meditation, which in turn reduces stress and enhances mood. These mental benefits play an important role in the overall healing benefits of yoga.

There are several theories as to why a mental state of mind may affect those suffering from back pain.

  • Many believe that suffering from back pain increases because of perception. Negative psychological and emotional factors may not necessarily change the physiology of the back, but may tend to magnify a problem that already exists. Thus, reducing the perception of the pain can reduce the overall feeling of back pain.
  • Others take the role of mental factors one step further. They believe that psychological and emotional factors are the primary influence in the sensation of pain and can physically alter the body. For various reasons, high stress and negative emotions may actually cause back pain. This will in turn create negative psychological and emotional feelings, perpetuating the cycle.

    Also see Stress-Related Back Pain

In theory, yoga helps people concentrate their energy on breathing and maintaining posture. The methodical breathing increases oxygen flow to the brain and sets a rhythm within the body and mind. This action coupled with the poses and sometimes meditation is said to dissipate stress and anxiety, therefore, relieving back pain caused by psychological and emotional factors.

Yoga Promotes Body Awareness

Our spine specialists know that one of the best ways to prevent injury to your back is to improve your body awareness. Performing yoga encourages you to think about your body and its movements. This gives you a greater sense of what types of movements may cause you pain or injury versus movements that improve flexibility and strength. Increasing this body awareness can be a great way to prevent further back and spine problems.

Yoga is a healing technique that can improve posture, promote healthy spine alignment and strengthen core muscles. If you continue to experience back pain after performing yoga exercises for strength, it may be time to visit a physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon for treatment recommendations such as back surgery. Contact Southeast Orthopedic Specialists today to learn how we can help.

The Goal Of Yoga Poses

When you do yoga posesyou can do them standing, sitting, and lying downyou should feel comfortable in them. But before getting to the more advanced poses, you have to practice the easier versions of the poses.

Think about it: If you’ve never trained for a marathon before, you wouldn’t just force your body into running 26.2 miles, would you? Why would you want to force your body into certain yoga poses if your body’s not ready for them?

Yoga Promotes Muscle Strength

Many back problems arise from weakness in the back muscles relative to other parts of the body, which can put extra tension on the spine. Holding poses in yoga helps to strengthen your back muscles, which may reduce your back pain. When holding yoga poses, focus intently on keeping your back straight and in good alignment. This ensures that you work your back muscles optimally.

What Causes Back Pain

3 Yoga Moves You Can Do at Work To Help With Back Pain

There are many causes of chronic back pain. The cause can impact what you should and shouldnt do in your yoga practice. 

Here are the most common causes of chronic back pain:

Muscle Strains And Imbalances

Frequent travelers can experience a strain due to prolonged pressure to their lower back while sitting. When one muscle is strained, the others take over, which creates a muscle imbalance that further aggravates back pain. 

Herniated Or Bulging Discs 

As we age or with prolonged stress on the spine, we can develop bulging or herniated disks. 

Bulging disk happens when the disc loses its fluid. It becomes compressed, and this causes sharp pain. A herniated disk breaks through the outer layer and presses on the nearby nerve roots. A bulging disc causes uncomfortable pain but also can cause weakness and numbness. 

Other Issues In The Spine 

There are many other reasons why you can develop chronic back pain. For example, you may be born with or have developed a deformity, such as kyphosis or scoliosis. 

Kyphosis is when your upper back is hunched, pushing your head forward and causing strain along the spine. Long term sitting can equally cause this, so it is vital to be aware of good posture and stretch regularly. 

Scoliosis is when the spine curves to the right or left. It may be slight by just a few degrees, but for others, when not taken seriously, it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. 

Top 5 Yoga Asana And Lower Back Pain Relief

Lower Back Pain and Yoga

A widespread disorder, it is also one of the most overlooked disorder as well. Most people experience lower back pain at some point of time in their lives. Around 40% of total population suffer from back pain, it is said that 7 out of every 10 people have lower-back pain or discomfort. It is a common disorder involving the muscles, nerves and bones of the back.

Most common cause of pain in the lower spinal column is due to faulty posture , stress, inadequate exercise or improperly lifting up of heavy objects. Lower back pain is more common among homemakers and women.

Prevention is better than cure the very essence of Yoga. Lower back pain can be easily avoided and eliminated by instilling few simple Yoga Asana or poses on a daily basis that help to keep the lower back pain in check and improve spine health.

TOP 5 Yoga Asana and Lower Back Pain relief

Talasana This asana helps upward stretching of the spine. This helps in relieving the compression of the cartilages of the spine and stretching of the skeletal muscles. Yoga Asana for beginners watch the video

Paschimottasana Helps to stretch the whole spine forward and helps to open up the lower back, hamstrings and hips.

Konasana This helps the sideward stretching and lateral decompression of the spinal cord. Yoga Asana for beginners watch the video

Ardha Matsyendrasana Twisting action of this particular asana helps strengthen abs and obliques and energizes the spine.

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