Gentle yoga for back pain
20 minute gentle yoga sequence for back pain. With Kino MacGregor
Do you suffer from back pain? You’re not alone. Most people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Taking a couple of minutes to do a few simple yoga poses will release your back muscles, bring movement into the spine, and increase blood flow to the area. This sequence was designed to do just that. As you move through this series of poses focus on breathing out your tension.
Whether you’re brand new to yoga, or you’re having a low energy day and need a sequence to help you drop down, release, and relax, this practice is ideal for you. Before you start, take a few moments to check in with your body and your emotions. How do you feel? Where are you experiencing tension? Acknowledging where you are is important before you start your practice. Take a long deep breath in and then exhale. Ground yourself in your breath. Now let’s begin.*
1. Cat/Cow Pose
Cat/Cow pose gives you the opportunity to explore the movement of the spine while paying attention to the connection between movement and breath. Come to your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Inhale and extend the spine dropping your belly down and bringing your chest up, so there is a curve in your back. Look straight in front of you. Exhale round the back and tuck the tailbone and look toward your navel. Repeat these movements with each inhalation and exhalation.
2. Child’s Pose (Not Pictured)
Child’s pose gently stretches the back muscles while soothing the nervous system. From tabletop position sink your hips back onto your heels with your knees apart. If you have a bolster, pillow, or yoga block you can use it to rest your chest on to make the posture even more relaxing. Place your forehead on the ground with your arms extended out in front of you. Rest here for a few breaths. Breathe deeply, letting your body sink into the pose.
3. Dangling Pose (Not Pictured)
Dangling pose gently stretches the lower back while massaging the abdominal muscles. From a standing position, softly bend the knees and fold your torso over your thighs. Bend your elbows and hold your left elbow with your right hand and your right elbow with your left hand. Let your elbows dangle down. Relax your torso. Inhale and straighten your legs. Draw the navel in and relax your back as you let your body dangle.
4. Lizard Lunge
All of our muscles are connected and tight hips can lead to low back pain. Lizard lunge will help loosen your hips and release your low back. From dangling pose, place your hands on the ground and step your right leg back. Bend your left knee so it's at a 90-degree angle. Your left knee should be stacked over your left ankle. Put your right knee on the ground and point your right toes behind you. Take a moment to settle into the pose before bringing your torso upright. Draw your navel in and lift your rib cage away from your pelvis. You can place your hands in prayer position at your heart centre or you can lift your arms over your head with your elbows toward your ears. Hold this for five breaths. Exhale and repeat on the other side. This is a wonderfully therapeutic movement if you've been sitting and rounding your back all day.
Cobra strengthens your back while stretching deep core muscles. Lay down on your stomach with your feet pointed out behind you. Place your elbows on the floor slightly in front of your shoulders with your fingers pointing straight out in front of you. Think about creating length and space in the back between each vertebra. Now pick up through the centre line of your body looking forward. Relax your front body.
6 . Puppy Pose
Now we’ll stretch the shoulders, back, and chest in puppy pose. Come back to your hands and knees in tabletop position. Walk your hands forward and lower your forehead to the ground with your arms straight out in front of you. Your hips are in the air. Come up onto your fingertips and breathe deeply.
7. Dandasana (Not Pictured)
Let’s lengthen your spine, strengthen your back, and improve your posture with Dandasana. Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Flex your feet and keep your legs engaged. Place your fingertips on the ground. Lift your chest and draw your elbows back. Stay here for a few breaths while remembering to keep your legs engaged and your feet flexed.
8. Malasana – Yogi Squat
Malasana stretches your hips while releasing your lower back. Bend your knees and come into a squatting position. Your legs are wide and your feet are flat on the ground. If you can’t put your feet flat on the ground, try putting a blanket or towel under your heels to give you added support. Let your torso sink in between your thighs. Drape your head down and hold your hands to your forehead in prayer position and take a few breaths here. Now raise your torso up and hold your hands in prayer position in front of your heart.
9. Constructive Rest
Constructive rest is a variation of Savasana that releases the psoas muscles. Lay on your back and bend your knees. The soles of your feet are on the mat just a little bit wider than your hips. Let your knees fall toward the centre line so they rest together. Rest your arms at your sides. Relax and release. Allow the whole weight of the body to sink down.
In Reclined Twist you’ll stretch and release your side body while massaging your internal organs. Laying on your back, draw your knees up toward your chest. Let both knees drop over to the left side of your mat while keeping the toes pointed and the knees stacked on top of each other. Reach your right arm out straight to the right side and rest your left hand on your top thigh. Stay there for a few breaths and let yourself unwind. Roll back to the centre and hug your knees to your chest. Then drop your knees to the right to repeat the twist on that side.
Viparita Karani - Legs Up
Viparita Karani relieves stress and soothes the nervous system. Laying on your back, bring your legs straight up toward the ceiling so your hips are forming a 90-degree angle. Point your toes and relax. Relax the mind and let it move into a space of peace.
Reclined Fish Pose – Supported By Blocks
This pose is a wonderful asana to relieve tension in the upper back. Sit on the ground with your knees up and place a yoga block or a bolster behind your back. Place a second yoga block beneath your head. Stretch your legs out straight in front of you with your toes pointed and rest your arms on the floor at your sides. Breathe here for a few moments.
To come out of the pose bend your knees and press into the elbows to sit up and remove the blocks before ending your practice with Savasana.
Practice this sequence whenever you need to release your back muscles and reset your nervous system.
*NB: If you have any serious back issues please consult a medical professional first before starting this sequence or any new exercise