reduce lower back painBy Kimaya Singh

Yoga poses for lower back pain are a holistic solution to a timeless problem.  The lower back can be a repository for a lot of stress and tension, both physically and emotionally. Physical activities such as skiing, running, rowing and horseback riding can create tension and strain in the lower back. Emotional duress that is experienced as a feeling of not being supported can also manifest as lower back tension, pain and injury. A lack of spinal support may also be emotionally experienced as a disconnection from others around us and/or financial distress.

Yoga asanas that alleviate lower back tension help to protect us from injury and increase a sense of ease and well being in our own bodies. There are many Yoga asanas that help to release tension from the lower back area. Asanas that increase flexibility in the hamstrings help to ease the pull of those muscles on the lower back. Sitting postures that stretch the legs and hips also help to alleviate lower back tension.


Working Around Lower Back Pain

Although it may not be intuitively obvious at first, back bending postures are actually very effective Yoga asanas for releasing stress and tension in the lower back area. As the tension in the neck, throat, shoulder and torso area begins to release, the tension in the lower back will also begin to release. For beginning and intermediate Yoga practitioners, Sphinx Pose is an accessible posture that helps to decompress the front of the body, thereby ultimately lowering the amount of tension in the lower back area. Upward Facing Bow, Wheel and Camel Pose are also great asanas for releasing tension in the front of the body and ultimately in the lower back area.

Sphinx Pose

To practice Sphinx Pose, lie on your Yoga mat with your head facing one direction. Take one complete breath and feel supported by the ground beneath you. With your next inhale, raise yourself up and place your arms in front of you with your arms bent and your weight supported by your elbows. Your arms should be shoulder-distance apart and your palms flat on the floor equidistant from each other and perpendicular to the sides of your Yoga mat.

To see if this helps reduce your lower back pain, hold this position for three to five complete breaths as you feel the ensuring elongation in the front of your torso, including your heart and throat chakra areas. You may want to slowly look from shoulder to shoulder in order to increase the stretch on the right and left sides of your torso. To come out of the posture, with your next exhale, release and lay your head down facing the other direction. Repeat two more times. After practicing Sphinx Pose, finish with Extended Child’s Pose in order to release any residual tension in the lower back.

One last point: Although, I have outlined a few asanas for lower back pain, each person’s condition is different.  As Paulji would point out, no two L-5 injuries are exactly alike.  With that said, please consult your medical specialist about practicing Yoga.  He or she may be able to point you toward a physical, occupational or Yoga therapist who can draw up a lesson plan of exercises and asanas, which are specifically designed for reducing your lower back pain.

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