Yoga for Back Pain

Chronic back pain is a common issue attended to by many physicians. While there are many medications available to manage pain, there are also very simple, low impact exercises that can reduce or even eliminate mild back pain all together.

Yoga is a great form of exercise that can ease pain and discomfort throughout the body. The great thing about yoga is that it allows one to focus on specific areas of the body if needed. There are many yoga poses that focus on stretching out the back muscles, thus potentially easing or eliminating back pain.

Here are some poses that can ease and reduce back pain (images from Google images):


Start on your hands and knees with your spine neutral (think of your back as a table top). Use your breath to move between the two poses, breathing in during cow pose and out during cat pose. Move slowly and with intention.

Benefits of cat-cow:

  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
  • Stretches the hips, abdomen and back
  • Massages and stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands
  • Relieves stress and calms the mind

Downward facing dog

Press equally between your hands and feet. Press back, pulling your chest towards your thighs. Bend the knees and elbows to reduce pressure in the shoulders. Pull your heels towards the mat or floor (it is not required for your heels to touch the mat/floor).

Benefits of downward facing dog:

  • Calms the brain, relieves stress
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs

Half Pigeon (do pose on each side)

From downward facing dog take your right leg towards your arms and bring the leg down flat with your foot on the outer edge, facing the left hand. Square your hips and bend your right knee as much as is comfortable. Keep your torso up or fold it to the ground, being sure to listen to your body and making sure that your body isn’t feeling any pain. Repeat this pose with the left leg.

Benefits of half pigeon:

  • Stretches out hip rotators and flexors
  • Stretches out lower back and spine
  • Relieves tension

Standing forward fold

Stand with your feet together or slightly apart (about two fists distance), whichever feels more balanced. Gently fold from your hips, bending your knees as much as feels good. Take your hands to the floor or hold opposite elbows, using your arms to frame your head. Sway from side to side, slightly twisting at the waist. Settle into the forward fold, allowing gravity to pull your head and spine towards the ground. Stand in this pose as long as feels good. Roll your spine up slowly, one vertebrae at a time, coming into mountain pose (tadasana).

Benefits of forward fold:

  • Helps relieve stress
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
  • Strengthens the thighs and knees
  • Reduces anxiety

Supine twist (do pose on each side)

Lay flat on your back. Keep your left leg straight, take your right knee into your torso, and use your left arm to pull your knee to the left side. Take your right arm out to the right side, keeping your right shoulder blade to the floor, turning your head towards the right. You can take both knees bent together and twist them as well, whichever feels better for your lower back. Repeat this pose with the left leg.

Benefits of supine twist:

  • Helps release the lower back
  • Opens tight shoulders
  • Elongates spinal muscles
  • Calms the mind

Ease into each pose and create your own flow. Take time in each pose. Be sure to breathe deeply into each pose and if there is any pain adjust or come out of the pose.

Be sure to get professional medical advise before using these poses to treat any chronic or severe back pain.

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