Beginner Friendly Yoga Poses To Relieve Back Pain And Strengthen Your Back
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According to the American Chiropractic Association, it is estimated that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives. Low back pain in particular is the single leading cause of disability worldwide.
These alarming numbers speak to the importance of taking care of you back now, before it sidelines your life. Apart from maintaining a healthy diet and weight, regular exercise, and practicing proper posture, yoga can be an extremely effective tool for preventing and mitigating back pain. This ancient practice is also known for strengthening your back, which goes hand in hand with prevention of back issues.
One study published on NCBI concludes the efficacy of yoga for relieving back pain:
Yoga appears as effective as other non-pharmacologic treatments in reducing the functional disability of back pain. It appears to be more effective in reducing pain severity or bothersomeness of CLBP when compared to usual care or no care.
In this post we consulted with Josie, our friend and certified yoga instructor, to come up with 10 beginner friendly yoga poses that target your back- both to relieve your back tension and pain, and to strengthen the muscles in that area. Practice these poses often, whether next to your desk at the office, or at the comfort of your own home.
As always, if you already suffer from back problems, consult with your doctor first on whether its safe to practice yoga .
Supported Bridge With Hip Opener
A. Start lying face-up on the mat. Bend knees, placing feet on the ground hip-width apart.
B. Lift hips and place a yoga block underneath at whatever setting feels best for the back, then lower sacrum onto the block.
C. Release your arms to either side of the body and, once steady, place the bottoms of feet together, allowing knees to fall apart.
Breathe here for at least 10 deep breaths.
Back flexibility yoga tip: Start this pose at the lowest height of the block and gradually work your way up to the block’s highest height, if that feels OK for your back on any given day.
Three Legged Dog/eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana
Stretches: calves, hamstrings, shoulders, spine
- Alternate between flexing your right foot and pointing your toes several times.
- Return to Downward-Facing Dog and repeat on the other side.
- Focus on the length of your spine rather than on straightening your leg.
- Keep your body level dont dump all the weight on the left side.
- Keep your neck and jaw relaxed.
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Pigeon Pose Relaxes Hips By Stretching Rotators
Pigeon pose, which can be a little challenging for yoga newbies, stretches hip rotators and flexors. It may not seem like the most obvious position to treat a backache, but tight hips can contribute to lower back pain.
Try it: Start in Downward-Facing Dog with your feet together. Then draw your left knee forward and turn it out to the left so your left leg is bent and near perpendicular to your right one lower both legs to the ground. You can simply keep your back right leg extended straight behind you, or for an added hamstring stretch seasoned Pigeon posers, only! carefully pull your back foot off the ground and in toward your back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.
Standing Fold Or Uttanasana
Stand tall with your hands on your hips. Bend forward from your hips. Lengthen the torso as you reach downward. If possible, bring your palms or fingertips to the floor in front of your feet . Your legs can be straight or slightly bent.
This pose is a stress-reliever, calming the mind in between other poses in your practice. It also strengthens the thighs and knees.
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An Upward Forward Bend Releases Tight Hamstring And Back Muscles
Sometimes called a forward fold, the upward forward bend stretches the hamstrings and back muscles while providing a release for tight, tense shoulders.
Try it: Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart and your knees loose, not locked. While you exhale, hinge at your waist and bend forward, reaching toward the floor. Dont worry if you cant reach all the way to the floor at first just stop wherever your hamstrings feel a comfortable stretch. Repeat the pose five to seven times. On the last bend hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths.
Yoga For Flexibility: Faq
How often should I do these yoga poses to improve my flexibility?
The best yoga pose for increasing flexibility is the one you do regularly. Dont expect fast results overnight.
Consistency and regular practice are essential.
Strive for at least 10 minutes of yoga every day to loosen up the body. Do a full yoga session with longer holds at least 2-3 times a week to see the results as soon as possible.
How long should I hold each pose?
Whatever you feel like. Every day is different from another, and your body might feel very open at one point and super stiff at another.
In general, I suggest you start out by holding each pose for about 2-3 full breaths and increase the number of breaths over time.
Short holds are great for quick morning yoga routines to limber the body and prepare for the day. Longer holds are better after a workout or in the evening when your muscles and joints are warm.
How long does it take to improve flexibility with yoga?
It depends on many factors: your age, gender, current fitness level, even genetics. Many reasons can negatively impact your flexibility gains.
For example, lack of strength and joint stability is one of the most common reasons for the lack of flexibility. So make sure to not only lengthen the muscles but to stiffen them by adding a strength-building routine to your schedule.
What should I feel in the poses? How do I know Im stretching enough?
Never go for teeth-gritting pain. Well, any pain whatsoever.
It depends on:
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Things To Consider Before Practicing Yoga Stretches For Beginners
This is all about how to make the most of your yoga experience while keeping the aforesaid points in mind. This way you will be able to reap all the benefits that yoga stretches for beginners have to offer. So, get set to give yourself the gift of regular yoga practice for healthy living.
Reverse Table Pose/ardha Purvottanasana
Stretches: chest, shoulders
- Begin in a seated position with your legs extended.
- Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor about hip-distance apart.
- Lean back slightly with your torso and place your palms behind you with the fingertips spread and pointing towards your body.
- Press into your hands and feet.
- Breathe in and lift your hips up so that theyre in line with your knees and shoulders.
- Keep your neck in line with your spine or let it drop back if thats comfortable.
- To release, lift your head, tuck your chin slightly as you lower your hips to the mat.
- Keep your knees hip-width apart dont let them cave in or splay to the sides.
- Avoid locking your elbows. To do this, keep a small bend in your elbows while youre in the pose.
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Tree Pose Or Vrksasana
Stand on one foot and keep it firm on the floor. Place your opposite foot against your thigh or calve , with toes pointing to the floor. Your pelvis should remain centered and your hips should be square. Hold your hands at your hearts center or extend your arms upward.
This pose improves a yogis sense of balance and strengthens the thighs, ankles and spine.
Triangle Or Utthita Trikonasana
Begin by standing with your feet about four feet apart. Stretch your arms so theyre parallel to the floor. Then reach one hand down toward your foot and grab your ankle or your shin . Your other hand should be extended toward the sky. Gaze upward at your fingertips.
This pose tones the legs and increases stability through the lower body. It also deeply stretches the hamstrings, hips and back.
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Crescent Lunge Or High Lunge/utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana
Stretches: hips, chest
- Begin in Downward-Facing Dog.
- Inhale as you lift right foot straight behind you.
- Step the foot forward in-between your hands as you exhale. Your back heel will lift off the mat.
- Bend your front leg, so the thigh is parallel to the ground. Alight the front knee over the ankle.
- Engage your core muscles. Sweep your arms over the head and lift your torso upright while maintaining an active stance in your legs.
- Keep the arms straight and parallel, palms facing each other.
- Square your hips to the front of the mat. Often, it means you have to draw your right hip back and left hip forward.
- Stay open through your chest.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Keep your front knee facing straight up. Dont let it cave in or splash out to the side.
- Root firmly through both legs. Avoid dumping all your weight to the front.
- Stay aware of your lower back position. Keep the tailbone lengthened often it means you have to tuck it slightly.
- Keep both hands on the floor or yoga blocks instead of lifting your torso and arms. Be careful not to dump your weight onto the hands. Stay active in your legs and core.
- To make the pose easier, drop the back knee to the mat.
- Place your hands on the hips instead of lifting them overhead.
Dandasana For The Intermediate Back Muscles
The serratus posterior superior and inferior are the intermediate back muscles associated with movements of the thoracic cage, which is a fancy way of saying they assist with an important function in yoga called breathing.
Practice Tip: Maintaining an erect spine invites a direct path for energy flow and activating the bandhas makes this pose one of the most challenging to maintain focus while also strengthening the spine and supporting back muscles.
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Yes You Can Be More Flexible
Always wanted to do wheel pose with ease? Frustrated that forward bends are so difficult and don’t know why? Improving back flexibility is key. A more flexible spine reduces overall back pain, helps you sleep, and strengthens your posture.
These seven yoga poses will help you open your hips, open your shoulders, create more space in your body, and improve your overall back flexibility.
Do the complete series at least three times a week, finishing with your favorite spinal twist when you are done.
Easy Pose Side Bend Variation
Take the side stretchvariation of Easy Pose.
- Extendyour both hands towards the ceiling
- Lower theright hand and place it by your right body
- Bendtowards the right, looking towards the extended left hand
- Open yourchest to the ceiling and keep stretching across the entire left side body
- Root downthrough your sit bones
Hold for 3 breaths andswitch sides, bending towards your left this time
Do 3 cycles of leftand right side bends.
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Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana For Lateral Flexion
Lateral Flexion, also known as side bending, can be practiced in various asanas like Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose or Gate Pose. Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose is a deep stretch for the trapezius, rhomboids, spinal extensors, and latissimus dorsi.
Back pain and tightness can lead to a vicious cycle where the pain prevents movement and exercise that could ease some of the pain away. These yoga poses can be incorporated today for a good back stretch to ease away pain as well as work to proactively strengthen and stretch the back to keep tightness at bay.
Have any other good poses for a strong and healthy back? Please share in the comment section below!
High Plank Or Kumbhakasana
Start on your hands and knees. Place your wrists directly under your shoulders. Spread your fingers and press down through your hands. Step back and tuck your toes, lifting your legs upward from the mat. Firm your body and broaden your shoulders. Make sure your chest is directly over your hands.
This pose promotes arm and core strength, but rememberdont let your hips sag too low.
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So Does Yoga *actually* Help Back Pain
Studies have shown that yoga can in fact be beneficial for back pain.
In a 2017 study, a small group of 320 adults were assessed to see if yoga was as effective as physical therapy for treating chronic lower back pain. Participants in both the yoga and physical therapy classes showed similar improvements in their pain levels.
Another study found practicing yoga decreased pain levels by a small to moderate amount over a short period of time. While this research is helpful to see the benefits of yoga, more research is needed to know exactly how beneficial practicing yoga is for back pain.
Garudasana Arms For The Superficial Back Muscles
The superficial back muscles include the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae and the rhomboids and are associated with movements of the shoulder. Eagle arms can be practiced seating or standing to stretch and strengthen the superficial back muscles.
Practice Tip: Since Eagle arms constrict movement and compress in the front of the body, inviting breath into the back of the body helps deepen the pose as well as release tension in the back.
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Bridge Pose/setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Stretches: abdominals, chest, shoulders, neck
- Lie on your back with the arms alongside your body, palms facing down.
- Bend your knees and place them about hip-width apart.
- Inhale and root through your feet. Breathe out as you lift your pelvis towards the ceiling.
- Flex your buttocks, abdominal muscles, and outer arms to lift yourself higher.
- Broaden your shoulder blades and keep the chin away from the chest.
- To release the pose, exhale and slowly lower down the spine to the ground one vertebra at a time.
- Keep the thighs parallel with each other.
- Dont harden your buttocks, but keep it engaged.
- Relax your jaw and avoid moving your head in the pose.
- Place a blanket under your shoulders to protect the neck.
- Take a bolster or a yoga block and slide it under your tailbone for support.
Yoga For Back Pain Low Back Pain Stretches For Beginners Sciatica Relief Part 1
Yoga for Back Pain, Low Back Pain Stretches for Beginners, Sciatica Relief
In this at home workout, Meera Hoffman guides you through relaxing yoga to relieve back pack. This series will cover upper and lower back pain this video focuses on the low back.
Visit Meera Hoffmans website at http://www.meerahoffman.com
** To Enter the Liliyo Cushion Giveaway: Share this video on your favorite social media site to help us spread the word!**
Yoga with Meera & Katrina Playlist:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list
Meera is also a massage therapist and offers services in several Texas cities.
Meeras Yoga for Back Pain series:
Part 1: Yoga for Back Pain, Low Back Pain Stretches for Beginners, Sciatica Relief
Part 2: Easy Stretches for Low Back Pain, Back Pain Yoga Exercises Beginner Friendly Sciatica Relief
Part 3: Easy Neck & Back Pain Stretches & Exercises, 10 Minute Beginners Yoga Routine
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Garland Pose Or Deep Yogi Squat/malasana
Stretches: ankles, hips, inner thighs, lower back
- Begin in a standing position .
- Press the palms of your hands together in a prayer position.
- Place your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Turn your toes outwards.
- Inhale and lengthen.
- Exhale as you bend your knees and squat deeply.
- Draw your chest open and slightly press your elbows into the knees, inviting them to open.
- To release, press your palms into the mat and transition into a Standing Forward Bend as you exhale.
- Slowly lift your torso.
- Firmly press your palms together at the heart center to create resistance in your upper body.
- Dont lift your heels off the mat.
- Keep your spine lengthened from the crown of the head to your tailbone.
- Your buttocks should be engaged to help the hips open more.
- Sit on a yoga block or a bolster for additional support.
- If you cant keep your feet flat on the ground, roll up a yoga blanket and place it under your heels.
- Bring your fingertips to the floor behind you if you find it hard to balance with your hands at your chest.