3 simple and effective yoga poses to relieve your lower back
My lower back aches and pains first started when I was a teenager (this was years before I had even heard about yoga!). Since this, there have been times when my back pain has improved but there have also been times when it has been much worse. As someone who has struggled with lower back pain, I wanted to share with you my 3 favourite yoga postures that I have found most helpful to support the lower back. Even just five or ten minutes of regular stretching and opening of the lumbar spine can help you to ease tension and increase strength and flexibility.
Below you’ll find a description of how to practice each of the yoga poses and a photograph to demonstrate the pose. If trying these yoga postures for the very first time, my suggestion is to start gradually by staying in the poses for only a few breaths and increasing progressively making sure that you feel comfortable in the pose and are working within your pain-free range of motion. I would also recommend starting by working in these poses dynamically with the breath so moving in and out of the yoga postures to work progressively, and then considering some static holds once you have more familiarity and experience with each pose.
I invite you to explore these simple yoga movements and to notice the difference…
Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Lie on your tummy with your legs resting straight behind you on the ground. Place your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forwards. Slowly draw your arms back towards your body until your elbows are beneath your shoulders. Raise your head and lift your chest, drawing your shoulder blades away from your ears to gently engage your lower back. Guide your breath towards the lower back and abdomen.
Tips: bring your elbows further away from you to reduce the intensity. Try moving in and out of the posture linking your movements with your breath by lifting your head and chest on an inhale and lowering on the exhale. Release your glutes and focus on the lower back muscles.
Bridge (Setu Banhda Sarvangasana)
Lie on your back, bend your knees, and bring your feet flat on the ground somewhere near to your hips (you can bring the feet close to the hips or you can allow as much distance from the hips as needed to make sure that you are comfortable). Check that your legs and feet are parallel and that your feet about hip-width apart. Allow the arms to rest on the floor next to your torso. As you inhale, press your feet into the floor and lift your hips. Keep your shoulder blades pressing into the mat. Think about lifting your chest towards your chin. Focus your attention on your lower back.
Tips: if trying this for the first time, consider coming in and out of the pose and gradually work towards staying in the posture. Be aware of what your knees are doing – keep your knees at hip-width apart (the knees might want to fall to the sides, but actively engage the thighs to keep the knees in place!). If it feels comfortable, you can consider staying in the pose for a little longer and using something underneath the hips and lower back to support you (yoga blocks, folded blankets, or cushions).
Knees to chest (Apanasana)
Lying on your back, bend your knees and draw your knees in towards the chest. Keeping your knees together as you draw them towards you, hold onto the knees with both hands. Check that your back is flat on the mat and draw your tailbone down towards the floor. Focus on pressing the shoulder blades into the ground and draw the shoulder blades away from the ears.
Tips: make sure that you are working within your pain-free range of movement. If it is tricky to clasp both hands around your knees, then you might like to hold each knee and draw each knee to your sides. Work dynamically in this pose as you build familiarity and lower back strength. To deepen the pose, try wrapping your forearms around the knees or bringing your chin towards your knees by lifting your head
After you have practiced these 3 yoga postures, it is important to practice a counter-posture which helps to release the lower back muscles that have been working hard. Counter-postures restore balance to the body and mind and ensure that tension does not build in one part of the body.
Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)
Sit in the centre of your mat with both legs stretched in front of you with your toes pointing straight up. Draw your lower tummy inwards and upwards and gently lift your chest before moving. Fold forwards from the hips taking your hands to rest on your legs. Focus on keeping the length in the front of the body – start by bringing the lower tummy and ribcage towards your legs and then work towards the chest and chin resting on your legs. Some options for the hands include resting the hands on the legs, placing one hand either side of the legs, or wrapping your index finger and middle finger around the big toes, if you can comfortably reach the feet.
Tips: as a beginner, keep your hands resting on the legs or on your mat beside your legs. To find comfort in this posture it might be helpful to sit on a folded blanket or yoga blocks to tilt the pelvis forward. To work in the posture more deeply, try using a yoga belt, strap or scarf wrapped around the soles of the feet holding the strap with each hand.
Thank you for reading. Please do share your comments and suggestions for what you might like to read more about in future blog articles 😊
Please make sure you are working safely within the capabilities and limits of your body. If you experience any pain when trying these postures, then stop immediately. If you have any concerns about trying these yoga stretches due to your personal physical health status then do consult with a trained professional beforehand.
Check out the BAM Therapy group yoga classes timetable to practice with us.
See you on your mat soon!