Top 10 Yoga Poses for Back Pain

Top 10 Yoga Poses for Back Pain

Spread the love:

Whether you have lower back pain or are just trying to keep your spine feeling great, here are the top ten yoga poses for back pain.

There’s almost no escaping it — at some point in your life, you will experience back pain. It happens to nearly everyone. One study found that 84% of adults in the United States have reported low back pain, and back pain is the No. 1 cause of missed work throughout much of the world.

The good news: back pain is manageable. Modern medical practice is moving away from the use of opioid medications and invasive procedures like injections and surgeries. So what is the preferred treatment for back pain? Exercise!

One form of exercise shown to be effective in treating low back pain is yoga. Yoga’s benefits are multiple: it reduces stress (which is a known risk factor of low back pain), helps your spine stay nice and mobile, and strengthens your spine and core muscles.

(Also Read: Mental Health Awareness: How You Can Support Someone Who Is Experiencing a Mental Health Problem?)

Top 10 Yoga Poses for Back Pain

I.      Yoga Poses for back pain #1: Crocodile Pose

  1. Focus: Spine; back
  2. Level: Beginner 
  3. Sanskrit Name: Makarasana
  4. Time: At least a minute
  5. Indications: Body relaxation; mental relaxation
  6. Contraindications: Mid- to late-term pregnancy

The Crocodile Pose is a restorative pose that relieves tension from the spine and back; regulates blood pressure; soothes the mind; and reduces anxiety.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Lie prone on the ground, belly down. Cross both arms under your head.
  2. Rest your forehead on your wrists and close your eyes; let your whole body relax, sinking into the floor. Let your heels turn out, and let your legs flop open.
  3. Breathe deeply and evenly. Push your belly down into the floor with each inhale, and maintain this action for 6 to 10 breaths. Each exhalation should release tension from your body down into the Earth.
  4. Come up by bringing your palms under your shoulders to lift your chest. The Child Pose is a usual follow-up for this pose.

II.   Yoga Poses for back pain #2: Cobra Pose

  1. Focus: Chest; spine
  2. Level: Beginner
  3. Sanskrit Name: Bhujangasana
  4. Time: 15 to 30 seconds
  5. Indications: Strengthening; stretching; opening the chest; abdominal stimulation
  6. Contraindications: Pregnancy; headache; back injuries; carpal tunnel syndrome

The Cobra Pose is an excellent backbend pose to open the chest, strengthen the spine, and stimulate the abdominal organs, heart, and lungs.

If your floor is not comfortable, I recommend rolling out a folded blanket to soften the surface. Pregnant women and those with back injuries should avoid this pose.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Lie prone on the ground. Stretch your legs back, placing the tops of your feet on the floor. Spread your hands just in front of your shoulders. Place your elbows against your body.
  2. Press your thighs, the tops of your feet, and your pubis firmly against the floor.
  3. Inhale and then straighten your arms, lifting your chest off the floor. Go as far up as you can while keeping your pubis connected to your legs.
  4. Firm your shoulder blades in your back, puffing your side ribs forward. You should distribute the backbend evenly throughout your spine.
  5. Hold the pose while breathing easily for 15 to 30 seconds.

Note: If you’re more flexible, you could push your hands a little farther, straighten your elbows, and lift the top of your sternum to move into a deeper backbend.

III. Yoga Poses for back pain #3: Marichi Pose

  1. Focus: Spine; shoulders; hips
  2. Level: Beginner
  3. Sanskrit Name: Marichyasana III
  4. Time: 30 seconds to a minute
  5. Indications: Strengthening; stretching; mental relaxation; abdominal stimulation
  6. Contraindications: Diarrhea; insomnia; headache or migraine; low (or high) blood pressure

The Marichi Pose is a twisting yoga pose that stretches the shoulders; massages the belly organs; eases hip pain, and strengthens the spine.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Apart from the Staff Pose. Bend your right knee in and rest your soul on the floor, keeping the heel as close as you can to your right sit bone. Your left leg should be kept strong and rotated slightly to the inside.
  2. Ground the head of the thigh bone into the floor. Push the back of your left heel and the base of the big toe of the pelvis. Press the right foot into the floor, softening the inner right groin to receive the pubis in the twist.
  3. Ground the thigh of the stretched leg and bent-knee foot to lengthen your spine.
  4. Rotate your torso to the right as you exhale, wrapping your left arm around the right thigh. Hold the outmost part with your left hand, pulling the thigh up as you release the right hip into the floor. 
  5. Push your right hand onto the floor behind your pelvis to lift your torso up and forward.
  6. Drag your inner right groin deep into the pelvis, and lengthen your front belly up out of the groin in line with your inner right thigh.
  7. Keep lengthening your spine with each inhalation, twisting a little more with each exhalation.
  8. Hug the thigh to your belly while you lean your back into your shoulder blades.
  9. Turn your head to the right to twist in your cervical spine.
  10. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.

IV.   Yoga Poses for back pain #4: Seated Forward Bend

  1. Focus: Spine; shoulders; hamstrings; back
  2. Level: Beginner
  3. Sanskrit Name: Paschimottanasana
  4. Time: 1 to 3 minutes
  5. Indications: Stretching; abdominal stimulation; mental relaxation; improved digestion
  6. Contraindications: Diarrhea; asthma; back injuries; late-term pregnancy

The seated forward bend is a beginner forward bend pose that stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings. It’s perfect for novice yogis, and it can be very mentally stimulating. I recommend rolling a folded blanket out on the ground.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Sit on the floor, supporting your buttocks on a folded blanket. Stretch your legs in front of you. Press firmly through your heels. Sway a little onto your left buttock to recoil your right sit bone away from the heel with your right hand. Do the same on the other side.
  2. Turn your thighs slightly to the inside, then press them down into the ground.
  3. Push your hands against the floor beside your hips to lift your sternum toward the ceiling while dropping your top thighs lower.
  4. Drag your groins into your pelvis. Keep your front torso long, leaning forward from your hip joints.
  5. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and try to clasp the sides of your feet with your hands. If that’s not possible for you, loop a strap around the soles of your feet, hold it firmly, and walk it gently as much as you can while keeping your elbows straight.
  6. As you lengthen your front torso, keep your arms long and your elbows out to the sides. Your lower belly should touch your thighs first; then continue up to your head.
  7. Hold the pose for 1 to 3 minutes. Come up gently by lifting your torso away from your thighs.

V.      Yoga Poses for back pain #5: Extended Puppy Pose

  1. Focus: Spine; shoulders
  2. Level: Beginner 
  3. Sanskrit Name: Uttana Shishosana
  4. Time: 30 seconds to 1 minute
  5. Indications: Stretching; mental relaxation 
  6. Contraindications: Knee injuries

The Extended Puppy Pose is a combination of the Child’s Pose and the Downward Facing Dog Pose. It stretches the spine and shoulders and soothes the mind.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Get down on the floor on all fours. Ensure that your shoulders are above your wrists and your hips are above your knees.
  2. Move your hands forward, just a few inches, and curl your toes under.
  3. Move your buttocks halfway back toward your heels as you exhale. Try to keep your arms active, without your elbows touching the ground.
  4. Drop your forehead to the floor. If this isn’t too comfortable, slide a folded blanket underneath.
  5. Keep your lower back slightly compressed and press your hands down, stretching through your arms as you pull your hips back toward your heels.
  6. Breathe into your back, lengthening your spine in both directions. 
  7. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute. Take a few breaths, and then release your buttocks down onto your heels.

Note: Consider sliding some folded blankets below your knees to protect them.

VI.   Yoga Poses for back pain #6: Knee Press Pose

  1. Focus: Back; belly; abdomen; legs; arms
  2. Level: Beginner 
  3. Sanskrit Name: Pavanamuktasana
  4. Time: At least 20 seconds in each stage
  5. Indications: Stretching; strengthening; abdominal stimulation; improved digestion
  6. Contraindications: Hernias; spine injuries; sciatica; pregnancy

The Knee Press Pose is a restorative pose that strengthens the back and abdominal muscles; tones the belly, legs, and arms; eases tension from the lower back; and—most importantly—massages the digestive organs (such as the intestines), helping the release of gasses.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Lie supine on your back, keeping your feet together and your arms beside your torso.
  2. Bend your right leg toward your torso, clasp your thigh with both hands, and press it down to your abdomen.
  3. Breathe in, lift your head and chest off the floor, and try to touch your right knee with your chin.
  4. Hold it for a few breaths, and then straighten your leg back onto the floor.
  5. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
  6. Now do the exercise with both legs, clasping each thigh with each hand.
  7. Try rolling side to side, 3 to 5 times, and then take a few breaths to release.

VII. Yoga Poses for back pain #7: Boat Pose

  1. Focus: Abdomen; psoas; spine
  2. Level: Intermediate 
  3. Sanskrit Name: Paripurna Navasana
  4. Time: 10 seconds, up to a minute
  5. Indications: Strengthening; toning; abdominal stimulation 
  6. Contraindications: Asthma; diarrhea; headache; heart problems; low blood pressure; insomnia; neck injury; mid- to late-term pregnancy

The Boat Pose is a deep hip flexor strengthening pose that tones the abs; strengthens the psoas and spine, and stimulates the abdominal organs.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Sit on the floor, stretching your legs in front of you. Push your hands into the floor behind and slightly away from your hips; your fingers should point toward your feet.
  2. Lift through the top of your sternum, leaning back slightly as you do. Make sure you don’t compress your back.
  3. Lengthen the front of your torso between the pubis and top sternum. Sit on your two sitting bones and tailbone to form the “tripod” with which this pose stands.
  4. Bend your knees and then lift your feet off the ground. Your thighs should be angled about 45° to 50°relative to the floor. Continue to lengthen your tailbone into the floor and raise your pubis toward your navel. Try to slowly straighten your knees and raise the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes. If you can’t keep your knees straight, keep them bent and lift your shins so that they’re parallel to the floor.
  5. Stretch your arms beside your legs, keeping them parallel to each other and the floor. Widen your shoulder blades across your back. If you can’t, keep your hands on the floor beside your hips, or grasp the backs of your thighs.
  6. Your lower belly should be firm, not hard or thick. Try to keep it relatively flat.
  7. Push the heads of your thigh bones toward the floor to help anchor the pose and lift your top sternum. Tip your chin toward your sternum to lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. Breathe easily.
  8. Initially, holding the pose for 10–20 seconds will be enough, but gradually increase the time of your stay to a minute. Release your legs as you exhale and then sit on an inhalation. If straightening your legs becomes difficult, try bending your knees and looping a strap around the soles of your feet. Grip the strap firmly, and then lean your torso back, adjust the strap to keep it taut, and push your feet firmly against the strap.

VIII.        Yoga Poses for back pain #8: Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose

  1. Focus: Spine; back; shoulders; hamstrings; groins
  2. Level: Beginner
  3. Sanskrit Name: Janu Sirsasana
  4. Time: 1 to 3 minutes per side
  5. Indications: Stretching; strengthening; stimulation; mental relaxation
  6. Contraindications: Diarrhea; asthma; knee injuries; late-term pregnancy

The Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose is a powerful forward bend that stretches the spine, back, shoulders, hamstrings, and groins; stimulates the abdominal organs; and calms the brain. Yogis seeking to strengthen their spines should master this pose.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Sit on the floor, legs stretched in front of you. Bend your right knee, drawing the heel back to your perineum.
  2. Rest your right sole gently against your inner left thigh. Lay your outer right leg on the floor, keeping the shin at a right angle with your left leg. If your right knee doesn’t sit comfortably, roll a folded blanket below.
  3. Push your right hand against your inner right groin, where the pelvis joins the thigh. Press your left hand on the ground beside your hip. Gently turn your torso to the left, lifting it as you ground your inner right thigh.
  4. Align your navel with the center of your left thigh.
  5. You can loop a strap to your left foot and walk your right hand along the strap to lengthen your spine evenly. Alternatively, reach out with your right hand, clasping your left foot with your thumb on the sole.
  6. Use your left hand to push yourself over to increase the pressure of the twist. Then reach your left foot with your left hand.
  7. Lengthen your front torso from the pubis to the sternum. Ideally, you shouldn’t place too much force in the pull. Bend your elbows out to the sides as you take them off the floor.
  8. Keep lengthening forward until your lower belly touches your thighs.
  9. Hold the pose for 1 to 3 minutes. Come up gently, take a few breaths, and repeat the instructions with the legs reversed.

IX.   Yoga Poses for back pain #9: Happy Baby Pose

  1. Focus: Inner groins; spine
  2. Level: Beginner
  3. Sanskrit Name: Ananda Balasana
  4. Time: At least a minute, up to 3
  5. Indications: Stretching; mental relaxation
  6. Contraindications: Mid- to late-term pregnancy; knee injuries; neck injuries

The Happy Baby Pose is a powerful inner groin and back stretching pose that will help relieve stress and fatigue.

To perform this exercise, you must: 

  1. Lie down on the floor on your back. Gently bend your knees into your belly.
  2. Grip the outsides of your feet with your hands. Separate your knees from each other just slightly wider than your torso, and then bring them up toward your armpits.
  3. Each ankle should be directly over the knee. Push your feet up into your hands while you pull them down to generate resistance. Apply just a little force.
  4. To end the pose, let go of your feet and slowly bring your knees down, planting your feet firmly on the floor.

This pose is excellent when you’ve been working on the computer for hours. If you have some issues holding your feet initially, don’t fret! Use a belt or a similar object looped over your soles and grab onto it instead.

Following up with the Downward Facing Dog Pose can do wonders for your entire body!

Hold the pose for at least a minute. Gradually build your endurance up to 3 minutes. Try to take 3 to 7 even breaths before ending, unless you feel too uncomfortable.

X.      Yoga Poses for back pain #10: Warrior Pose III

  1. Focus: Ankles; legs; shoulders; back; abdomen
  2. Level: Intermediate 
  3. Sanskrit Name: Virabhadrasana III
  4. Time: 30 to 40 seconds per side
  5. Indications: Strengthening; toning; improved balance; improved pose
  6. Contraindications: High blood pressure; ankle injuries

The Warrior Pose III is the third and last pose of the three Warrior Poses. This pose will prove challenging to master. Nonetheless, the prospective yogi must strive to control it. This asana will improve balance and pose, tone the abdomen, and strengthen the ankles, legs, shoulders, and back.

To perform this exercise, you must:

  1. Apart from the Mountain Pose. Fold forward to the Standing Forward Bend Pose and then step your left foot back into a high lunge position.
  2. Lay the midline of your torso (pubis to sternum) down the midline of your right thigh (knee to hip crease) and then bring your hands to your right knee, clasping the inner and outer parts with the right and left hand respectively.
  3. Lift your torso slightly, and turn it slightly to the right while squeezing the knee with your hands.
  4. From this position, stretch your arms forward, parallel to the floor and each other, palms facing each other.
  5. Press the head of your right thighbone back and press the heel actively into the floor. Straighten the front leg as you lift the back leg. Resist by pressing your tailbone into the pelvis.
  6. Firmly ground your heels into the floor, allowing you to stabilize your position. Lunging your torso forward might destabilize you.
  7. Your arms, torso, and raised leg should be somewhat parallel to the floor. The trick to remaining both balanced and parallel is reaching out with your legs as far and strong as you can while reaching forward with your arms just as much. Releasing the hip of the raised leg toward the floor will help as well.
  8. You should stay in this position for as long as a minute, but 30 or 40 seconds will suffice. Take deep, even breaths as you do to remain balanced and focused.
  9. Once you’re ready, bring your hands to the floor beside your right foot. Step your left foot forward, take a breath, and then repeat the exercise on the other leg for the same amount of time.

With this, we conclude the warrior poses. The most advanced students can progress from the Warrior Pose I to the Warrior Pose III by leaning forward, arms extended while raising and extending their back leg.

Mastering the warrior poses will take you some time; there’s no need to rush it. A partner or teacher will make the process much easier.

(Related: Yoga 101: Yoga Basics for Beginners)

Spread the love:

1 thought on “Top 10 Yoga Poses for Back Pain”

  1. Pingback: Yoga for The Neck: Top 5 Yoga Poses for Neck Stiffness - ProKensho

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *