Whether you’re tight or injured, yoga’s “got your back!”
These three poses are deceptively simple looking, but don’t underestimate their power to heal an achey back.
Spend time in these yoga poses when your back hurts:
1. Legs on a Chair 20 mins
Not to be underestimated! This may be the single best yoga pose for relaxing the deep tissues of your back.
As a bonus, it also relaxes the hip flexors, which are sometimes responsible for your back pain.
How To Get the Most Out of Legs on a Chair:
- Give yourself 20 mins at least. For some, this will feel like ages! I’m telling you though. It can take this long for your muscles to relax and let go if they’re strained or spasming.
- Be sure your lower back is flat on the ground. It’s worth tucking the the tail a few times to make sure this is happening. A flat back allows for the best release.
- Relax your face and jaw too. Tension has a way of spreading. When you relax the muscles of your face it sends a signal to the rest of your body that you are ready to heal.
2. Hugging the Knees In with a pillow
From a reclined position, place your feet on the mat and stuff and pillow or blanket underneath your sacrum, or lower back.
Draw the knees in to your side ribs, one at a time if you’re in a lot of pain.
Wrap your arms around your legs and then rock side to side — aiming to feel a massage of the lower back.
How to Get the Most out of Hugging Knees In:
- Stay for 1-3 mins. Too often, the tendency is to rush out of a pose before we’ve reaped the benefit. Stay long enough for your spinal extensors to release.
- Invite a sense of play. Summon your inner child and try rolling around a bit. Back pain can make you feel ancient, and it’s no fun! That sense of play will release some happy hormones causing you to feel better overall.
3. Child's Pose / and reach side to side
From hands and knees, send your bum to your heels and reach your arms forward. For some, this’ll feel relatively intense on the lower back. If you don’t feel much, no worries. See the next step.
Walk your hands over to the left, exaggerating the reach through your right arm. After a few deep breaths, switch sides.
How to Get the Most out of Child's Pose:
- Roll up a blanket and stuff it between your butt and your ankles. This applies particularly if you feel this in the knees or if your back in particularly tight. Play around with how big or small the blanket roll is.
- Breathe long and full. The act of breathing is itself a stretch from the inside out. Never cheat yourself of a full, slow breath — especially in this pose.
- Try to feel the line of connection between your reaching arm and your lower back. Breathing into the “flank” will help you to release and expand, bringing healing blood flow back.
Final Recipe for Back Pain Relief
Of course, no advice should substitute the input of your doctor. I’m a yogi and not a doc, so apply this advice at your discretion:
Yoga can provide both relief from back pain and tools for strengthening your back in order to prevent pain in the future.
When an acute bout of pain or tightness occurs, it can be tempting just to lay low and do as little as possible (forget breakfast in bed… How about all meals in bed). Unfortunately, this is usually a mistake.
Instead, allow yourself one day of complete rest (assuming the pain is bad). But as soon as possible, bring movement back!!
Believe me, I know firsthand the reluctance that crops up when the last thing you want to do is move your back. I promise, though, that the movement will ultimately heal you faster by bringing blood and energy into your areas of pain.
Finally: I’ve got a free YouTube class (pictured below) that I made especially for people suffering from a back pain flare-up. It’s an extremely gentle and careful class, and lots of people have told me that it gave them relief. Maybe it can help you too!
Best wishes. Hang in there. You’ll be back — stronger than ever — soon enough.
Leigha Butler is the founder of LBY, an online portal for yoga lovers who want to take their practice to new heights. Stay superlatively supple and strong — for life. You can learn more or sign up for a free trial right here.