In addition to causing general discomfort, back pain can diminish overall quality of life and negatively affect everything from work to personal relationships. Most people don’t give much thought to the health of their backs until they begin to feel pain. But there are many simple things you can do to improve spine health—such as practicing yoga poses for back pain—long before reaching your breaking point.
Learning and practicing good body mechanics can help keep your spine aligned and free of excess pressure. One easy and effective way to accomplish this is through the practice of yoga.
Yoga can help
For people with mild to moderate back pain, a carefully planned regimen of gentle poses can promote lasting relief through physical movement, deep breathing, concentration, and mental awareness. Yoga has gained acceptance within the medical community as a way to prevent and address back pain for the following reasons:
- Many poses incorporate deep stretching and spinal alignment techniques, which strengthen the major muscle groups supporting the spine.
- By strengthening and enhancing the flexibility of the shoulders and hips, yoga decreases the demands placed on the back.
- An emphasis on deep breathing and connecting breath with movement can increase overall body awareness, making it easier to identify specific movements that cause back pain.
- Stretching postures increase blood flow to areas that support the spine—potentially improving their health and function.
- Spine-lengthening asanas promote spine alignment by reducing the pressure on the cartilage between the vertebrae.
As with any form of exercise, some yoga poses aren’t appropriate for everyone. If you have a back injury or other condition, consult your physician before attempting yoga. If you experience back pain, see a medical professional to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Here’s the challenge
One regimen is the Seven-Day Yoga Challenge, which was developed for beginners by experts at the Laser Spine Institute. This simple but effective plan is accessible to nearly everybody and is particularly well suited for those with mild to moderate back pain.
The recommended yoga poses for back pain are designed to stretch and strengthen the back and core muscles without excessive bending and twisting. These poses include:
You can find a full description and step-by-step instructions for each of the Seven-Day Yoga Challenge poses in our pose library. Keeping in mind the sequence can be performed in any order, try one every day starting with your most comfortable pose.
If you’re already a yoga practitioner, you can incorporate these poses into your existing practice and share them with your friends. As you gain confidence, try adding new poses to your routine—such as Legs Up the Wall or Two-Knee Twist.
Practice makes perfect
If you are just starting out, it is okay to practice once a week until you build practice habits. Eventually, practicing yoga everyday will establish a relaxing ritual that you can look forward to.
As your body becomes accustomed to the poses, gradually increase the intensity of your workout by holding the positions for longer periods of time. For a convenient and fun way to interact with and encourage others, share pictures of yourself practicing the poses on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
While the physical aspects of yoga are important, the discipline means more than getting into postures. When you feel stressed throughout the day, try using the deep breathing techniques you have learned. You will find stress relief, and soon the breathing techniques will become second nature.
Enhance not only your workouts, but all aspects of your life through yoga. As your mental focus is sharpened, you will feel more present in situations both on and off your mat.