Four Gentle Yoga Moves for Back Pain
Is back pain getting to you? Give yoga a try!
Strong and flexible muscles boost the strength of the bones they surround and offer them added protection. Yoga provides a way to strengthen muscles and build flexibility in the back and abdominal muscles that support the spine. Strengthening your muscles also helps improve your posture. Good posture relieves some of the pressure off the spine and reduces back pain. Not only does yoga help you strengthen back muscles, it helps to stretch those muscles gradually. Proper stretching of the muscles is important, especially for lower back pain sufferers, because it decreases the stress placed on the lower back.
The book Gentle Yoga for Back Pain shows how to incorporate low-impact yoga moves – complete with suggested modifications to meet your own needs and abilities – into your exercise routine so you can safely and effectively reap the benefits of yoga.
Try these four yoga moves from Gentle Yoga for Back Pain:
1. Warrior II
Start with your feet together. Take a wide-legged stance and, on the exhale, turn your left foot out 90 degrees, keeping your hips and shoulders facing forward. On the exhale, bend your left knee over your ankle. Your weight should be on the outside of your right foot as you pull up in your inner right thigh. Your focal point will be at the fingertips of your left hand. Hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Modification: For the chair variation, sit on a chair and come to a straddle position. Bend your left knee and turn your left foot out 90 degrees. Extend your right leg out straight. On the inhale, raise your arms up and hold for five breaths. Repeat on right side.
2. Reverse Warrior
Start in Warrior II pose, facing to the left (your legs will not move throughout this sequence). Position your arms in a “T” position. On the inhale, drop your right hand down to your right leg as you raise your left arm straight up. Exhale and bend your left arm over your head as you bend your torso back, stretching the left side of your body up and back. Hold for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Modification: For the chair variation, start by sitting on a chair. Straddle the chair, bending your left knee as you turn your left foot out 90 degrees. Extend your right leg out straight and then follow the arm directions. Repeat on the right side.
Start on your back with your knees bent. Bring your heels as close to your buttocks as possible. On the inhale, raise your hips up, keeping your legs and feet parallel (you may place a block at a height that is comfortable for you and position it as the top of your buttocks, or use your hands to help hold your body up.)
Work up to five full breaths. Once this becomes easy, you can try bringing your hands together under your body and interlock your fingers with your arms straight and lower your chin to your chest.
Modification: If you are unable to lift your hips all the way, you can lift them halfway or as far as is comfortable for you.
Lie on your stomach and bring your forehead to the floor. With your legs and feet together, bring your arms up and position your elbows under your shoulders, keeping your forearms stretched out in front of your torso. On the inhale, rise up on to your elbows and hold for five breaths or more. Come down, take a breath or two, and then rise back up for another five breaths.
Note: As always, use caution and be sure to listen to your body– if the pose becomes to difficult, stop or switch to a more gentle variation.
Reprinted with permission from Gentle Yoga for Back Pain ISBN: 978-1-57826-390-5, $12.50 (paperback). New from Hatherleigh Press. Distributed by Random House.