So, you have back pain? First, where in the spine is the pain?
Lumbar – low back
Thoracic – mid back
Cervical – neck
Ask yourself: what could be causing my back pain?
-Bones not receiving enough nutrition (stress, poor diet, imbalance in the body)
-Weak back and abdomen muscles
-Sitting down for long periods of time (desk job)
-Poor form working out / weight-lifting
-Tight muscles in legs and/or hips (tight muscles can pull on the back and cause pain and discomfort)
Considering your specific situation, use caution, consult a professional before doing any of these yoga postures, and LISTEN to your body. Does this feel good? Does this make it worse? Move into each posture slowly. Listen to how your body reacts.
The main objective in relieving your back pain is to bring energy, nutrition, and light stretching to the spine and surrounding muscles.
1. Cat / Cow – dynamic movement
Why: improves flexibility, gentle warm-up, brings energy to the spine
How: On all fours, make a slow wave with the spine: start at one end of the body and end at the opposite. Inhale through nose when chest is open & exhale through nose when spine is rounded.
2. Downward Dog – breathe in stillness
Why: Lengthens spine, improves hamstring flexibility, improves shoulder strength
How: Alternate lifting the heals (walk it out) to warm up and bend knees if hamstrings are stiff. If you have trouble doing down-dog it is either because your hamstrings are tight or your shoulders are weak (maybe both!). Take your time in this one. Breathe in and out of the nose.
3. Forward Fold – hang out
Why: Lengthens spine, relieves pressure off of stacked vertebrae, increase flexibility in hamstrings
How: Pull belly button in and dive down. Bend the knees to start. Let upper body hang from the weight of gravity. Grab elbows and sway. Nod the head yes and no to relieve neck. Breathe!
**Do not roll up without first engaging the core**
4. Triangle – tone & lengthen
Why: Stretches spine, side body, and leg muscles. Tones abdomen, legs, arms and back.
How: Feet 3 feet apart. Front foot pointed forward. Back foot parallel with the back of the mat. Both heels in line. Hips are open. Arms extended. Reach forward first with the front arm, pull the belly button in, and drop the back of the front hand against inner calf. Back arm extends above. Look up to the thumb and lean back so that shoulders are stacked (like you would be if you were pressed up against a wall). Breathe! If uncomfortable, use a block to support your bottom hand and bend the front knee.
5. Half Moon – untwists spine from the base up
Why: Untwists spine from the base up. Tones legs and abdomen. Unlocks hips. Improves balance
How: Plant front foot with hands on the hips to start. Hinge forward at the hips while back leg extends behind (body is a T). Front arm (same side as standing leg) drops to the ground. Open hips and extend opposite arm to the sky while gazing to the line of your thumb. This is a balance pose with a lot of benefits. If you fall, get right back in! And don’t forget to breathe!