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Yoga Poses for Back Pain

14 Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain According to Experts (And Yogis!)

Wondering what the best yoga pose is for back pain? We’ve listened to the experts and some passionate yogis and compiled the top 14 asanas that could help with the country’s growing back pain problem!

Pose 1: Downward Facing Dog

1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Statistics show that yoga is growing in popularity every year, and there is no yoga pose more famous than the downward dog.

It’s a position that can really build strength in your abdominal muscles which are essential for the support of your lower back.

Orthopaedic Exercise Specialist Amber Ash explains:

“Down dog offers an opportunity to reverse the forces of gravity that usually act on the spine. The action of the hip joint flexing and folding in the front brings the abdominals in close toward the spine, strengthening them”.

However she does warn that it’s essential to practice it correctly or you could find that it makes the pain worse.

Watch Dr. Tatonté Venable demonstrate how to safely perform downward dog:

Pose 2: Upward Facing Dog

2. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

The upward facing dog can also be highly effective for back pain. Expert yogis recommend the pose as it helps to build strength in your spine.

They believe that by stretching your abdominal muscles it aids you in developing a strong torso, which can lead to relief from back pain as well as associated problems like sciatica.

When performed regularly it’s thought that upward facing dog can improve your overall, long term spine health.

Pose 3: Camel Pose

3. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Camel pose is challenging for yoga beginners however when mastered it can be effective for back pain. This asana, which opens up the front of your body, is also thought to help better your digestive system.

Yoga guru and Iyengar yoga founder, Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar better known as B. K. S. Iyengar, wrote about camel pose in his book, Light on Yoga.

He advises:

“People with drooping shoulders and hunched backs will benefit by this asana. The whole spine is stretched back and is toned. This pose can be tried conveniently by the elderly and even by persons with spinal injury.”

Pose 4: Cat-Cow Pose

4. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) – Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Back pain charities suggest the cat pose for those suffering from lower back pain, which is typically married with the cow pose.

The cat-cow pose is also suggested as an effective asana for fatigue and chronic pain.

The poses involve rolling your shoulders back, lifting your hips and rounding your spine, effectively opening up the spine which can offer relief from pain.

Watch an example of how the cat and cow pose can be used for back pain:

Pose 5: Eagle Pose

5. Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

One of the many benefits of yoga practice is an improvement in your balance.

However maintaining your balance to perform positions such as the Eagle Pose when you’re suffering from lower back pain can be difficult.

Luckily the position can be easily adapted. Simply lay down and only practice the leg pose which will help to relieve the pressure on your lower back.

Pose 6: Extended Triangle Pose

6. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

Research shows that over 50% of those suffering from back pain spend most of their day sitting at work.

Extended triangle pose is thought to be effective for helping to relieve those daily aches and pains. The transition of the position can help to loosen up your muscles and joints, easing pain in the back as well as other sites of chronic pain.

Revolved triangle pose has also been shown to work wonders for lower back pain.

Watch how to practice the triangle pose effectively:

Pose 7: Fire Log Pose

7. Fire Log Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

Tight hips have long been considered one of the causes of lower back pain. If you feel you need to work on tightness in your hips then the fire log pose can be beneficial.

Though the pose looks simple and serene, yoga experts explain that the fire log pose is highly effectively in lengthening your hip flexors.

This extension helps to support your lower back and stop you from pulling muscles in the future.

Pose 8: Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose

8. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Professionals suggest the legs-up-the-wall pose for those with swollen feet and ankles at the end of a busy day, as the position helps to recirculate the blood flow.

However legs-up-the-wall pose can be painful if you’re suffering from back pain.

Luckily you can give your tailbone extra support by adding a bolster and still benefit from this position.

Pose 8 variation: Legs-Up-The-Wall with Bolster Pose

Legs-up-the-wall with bolster pose is recommended by renowned yogi Gail Boorstein Grossman, in her book Restorative Yoga: A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance.

She suggests that the viparita karani asana can be as beneficial on your nervous system as taking a nap.

The rejuvenation that this position provides is thought to help manage the symptoms of lower back pain.

Pose 9: Locust Pose

9. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

Locust pose is seen as an essential one for beginners to ease them in to the more complex positions. However its power shouldn’t be underestimated, especially when it comes to strengthening your spine.

The position, when practiced regularly, works to build muscles within your back.

Locust pose was used in a research project conducted in 2009 which concluded that yoga could help back pain patients manage their symptoms.

Pose 10: Sphinx Pose

10. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

Sphinx Pose is one of the most gentle backbends you can practice making it an ideal low intensity asana for those suffering from back pain.

Though it’s a gentle backbend it still has many benefits.

A journal titled Yoga Therapy for Management of Neck and Low Back Pain concluded its 2015 findings by recommending the sphinx pose in particular for those suffering from lower back pain.

Pose 11: Child's Pose

11. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

If you’re aiming to avoid backbends due to your pain then child’s pose can prove to be a wonderfully restorative middle ground.

Use this pose to counter back bends in your yoga practice, allowing your body the time and movement to regain balance.

When performed correctly it allows you to rest your lower back whilst still strengthening your spine.

Pose 12: Supine Twist

12. Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Relief from back pain is often cited as a benefit of practicing the supine spinal twist as the movement eases the pressure on your lower back.

Certified Health Coach Anne Asher warns that though the supine twist is a powerful pose for the management of back pain, it’s essential that it’s performed safely.

She suggests consulting your healthcare professional in advance as sometimes the position can lead to a herniated disc.

Watch certified chiropractor JD McCoy show you how to adapt the supine twist to relieve lower back pain:

Pose 13: Plank Pose

13. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)

It might seem counterintuitive to practice the plank pose when you’re suffering from back pain, however it can be very worthwhile.

The plank pose helps you to build strength in your back (as well as your core, arms and wrists).

Keep your position firm, make sure shoulders and hips are in line and ensure you relax your shoulders to get the most from the pose.

Pose 14: Supported Corpse Pose

14. Supported Corpse Pose (Salamba Savasana)

There are around 6,000 yoga studios in the US, visit any of them and you’ll more than likely finish your session with the corpse pose or savasana.

The corpse pose can be painful if you’re suffering from back pain so consider finishing with the supported corpse pose.

This pose involves placing a bolster under your knees to help take the pressure off your back.

Experts also recommend the corpse pose before bed to relax the muscles, and so you can enjoy deeper and most restful sleep.

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