Back pain is something we have probably all experienced once or twice in our lives. Sometimes it comes and goes easily. But, oftentimes, it can lead to more serious issues. Back pain is also usually the result of some other muscles imbalances. Today I am going to help you create a short yoga practice that will help with all of these things.
Pigeon is one of my favorite hip opening poses. It will stretch out the hip rotators and flexors. As most of us sit all day, our hips can get quite tight. Tight hips can then aggravate the lower back and create some pain. So, although this may not seem like the most obvious stretch to treat back pain, it is very beneficial. This is a fairly intense pose, so you may choose to take a modified recline pigeon (or figure four stretch – shown right) on your back.
Cobra or Upward Facing Dog
These two poses are virtually the same thing. Cobra begins lying on your stomach and arching up. Upward Facing Dog requires you to lift your quads off the ground in this same position. Both poses help stretches out the hamstrings and lower back muscles, as well as release tension in the neck and shoulders.
Cat – Cow Pose
Many back issues form because of a lack of core strength. This is the perfect pose to help both engage your core and stretch out your sore back. Find tabletop position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips directly over your knees. Inhale as you contract your stomach and pull your belly button back towards your spine. Exhale and arch your back as you look up to the ceiling. The Cat Pose, or contracted position, will help strength your abdominals. The Cow Pose is meant to stretch our your lower back. Make sure you keep the alignment of your wrists, shoulders, hips, and knees to get the most out of this moving pose.
Downward Facing Dog
This pose will help stretch out your entire body, from your hamstrings to your chest and your lower back. Downward Facing Dog helps stretch out some big muscle groups. This is beneficial because sometimes it is hard to tell what is creating back pain. Maybe your tight hamstrings are making something flare up. Or perhaps tight shoulders were messing with your posture. Downward Facing Dog will always help get those kinks out.
Low Crescent Lunge
Another great hip opener, the Low Crescent Lunge requires the back knee to be on the ground. If your right leg is forward, you left knee will be on the ground with the hip pushing down to feel the stretch. With each exhale you should sink deeper into that lunge and get your (left in this instance) hip flexor closer to the ground. For an extra back stretch, slightly arch your back and gaze up towards the ceiling.
Although it is a resting pose, when done correctly Child’s Pose should feel like an active stretch that constantly elongates the spine. With every breath reach your arms out as long as possible while keeping your butt planted on your hips. For a deeper stretch, you can widen your knees and focus on laying your chest on the ground.
Finally we get to a twisting pose. Twisted poses are some of the best for instant back relief. The Supine Twist is my favorite pose, but any twisting position will work. For this one you will be lying on your back pulling your knees to either side. Again, you should use your breathing to help allow you to get deeper into the stretch. Every time you exhale try to twist further.