Many have started doing yoga because of their back pain; their doctor or the internet have steered them towards yoga. Yoga for lower back pain is a huge help and one of the reasons I started doing yoga. Whether it’s because of our sedentary lives or because we have injuries, or other things that can cause our backs to hurt, I’m here to tell ya: Yoga is great for back pain!
My Messed-Up Body And Yoga
My romance with yoga didn’t start because I already loved yoga. No, no. It started because I was using physical exercise as part of my depression recovery lifestyle. I enjoyed exercising but I always seemed to hurt myself and have to run (or limp) to the chiropractor.
I have a body that is always getting out of physical, structural alignment. I’ve always noticed that in my life and joked about needing a musculo-skeletal transplant ??. My body likes to twist and get out of alignment very easily. I actually found out recently that it’s because of a genetic condition. But that’s not super relevant; what it is that I found myself exercising and being in pain (and not the good pain either). What is relevant is that I my lower body was always hurting or getting hurt. I desperately needed to find a different form of movement/exercise that was lower impact but didn’t make me feel like I was a 200year old lady with osteoporosis!
Why Yoga Is Perfect
I know I’m a little biased, being a yoga teacher and all but hear me out on this. Needless to say, I found out yoga was just what my constantly-falling-appart body needed! Yoga Asana, the physical aspect of yoga, is such an amazing practice to get into! It’s just as physically and mentally challenging enough as you make it. Doing it from the comfort of my own home was great because I didn’t let the comparison monster that comes from the ego set in. I felt empowered to go at my own pace and take a break whenever I felt I needed it.
Another great reason for me was that I didn’t feel like I needed to keep up with the instructor either. Since, like I said, I was doing it from home. I also didn’t have to look cute, or buy expensive equipment, or rush out of my house because I just had to literally roll out of bed and onto my mat (that’s the only thing I bought to start my yoga journey).
Yoga For Lower Back Pain
Other than the low-impact movement it is mindful movement too. There’s an element of stretching and strengthening at the same time that no matter what you do, will be supportive of your core and that is the best yoga for back pain has to offer. Not only can you focus on certain areas, but you learn, through a good teacher, that you must always keep your lower abs engaged when folding/bending over. This is important not only in yoga asana, but in life too! These movements/poses/asana, translate beautifully off the mat. Especially the connection you make with your body through mindful movement.
In the Western World we tend to look at things as isolated parts and hardly ever look at them as a whole. This is especially true for how we look at the human body.
The back muscles are part of our core. But, they don’t just live there in isolation. They are connected to your limbs through other muscle groups and bones (by way of tendons and ligaments). If something is out of alignment in any of your limbs, it can affect your back.
Poses That Help Relieve Lower Back Pain
We often think of stretching our hamstrings when we have lower back pain. While that can indeed alleviate the problem, it’s most likely only part of the problem. You can always start with stretching out your hamstrings. Forward folds are great at stretching your hamstrings and, therefore your lower back. You can read about all the different modifications and adaptations you can make to this pose here.
Because we’re often sitting most, if not all of our day, there is another culprit to our back pain that is often overlooked: the psoas, A.K.A. your hip flexors. The psoas is the muscle that basically connects your bottom half of your body to your core. It comes from the bottom back of your diaphragm, crossing through the front through your hips. They are the muscles that lift our legs into our torso.
- Low Lunge – from standing, bring your leg (pick a leg, any leg) to the back. Enough to keep your front knee at a 90 degree angle, with your front knee over your ankle while feeling a stretch on your hip flexors/psoas. Leave your back knee on the ground. Fold over your mat, or place some padding under your knee if needed. Engage your low abs, slightly tilting your tailbone forward. Hold for a few breaths, sending the breath into the muscle, relaxing it without dumping into it. When you feel ready, mindfully switch legs.
- Supported Bridge Pose – Mindfully lay down on your mat. Engage your low abs by slightly tilting your tailbone towards the sky. Place your feet on the ground, knees bent and pointed towards the sky. (You can place a block or pillow between your knees to keep them from falling away from each other). Breathe and slowly and mindfully lift your booty up towards the sky just enough to place a block or a small stack of books under your sacrum (the small of your back).
- Psoas/hip flexor release – from supported bridge pose, gently and mindfully extend one leg, then the other. Find a good, comfortable place for your block or books that doesn’t hurt or feel uncomfortable. Breathe into your muscles allowing them to stretch. Breathe and hold for a couple of breaths; for as long as you feel you need it.
These two poses are great to stretch the hip flexors and they’re not super hard or ‘pretzely.’ They really allow your psoas to breathe and relax for a change. Our hip flexors work so hard and are really underrated. You’ll notice that your low back will start to feel better with those two simple stretches.
Enjoy your joyful (low back painless) life!
Cybele Cerchio ?
The Joyful Life Blueprint
P.S. Let’s get to know each other. Here’s my story, what’s yours?