By Sejal Shah I Updated: February 21, 2022
Yoga for back pain: Release tight muscles in your back, strengthen them and ease your pain with these 7 yoga poses and a 5-minute sequence. Try now!
Millions of people are affected by back pain every day. According to the , “If you've ever groaned, ‘Oh, my aching back!’, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache, to sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Back pain is considered chronic if it lasts for more than three months.”
Whether you have chronic back pain or just occasional backaches, the good news is that just a few minutes of yoga practiced daily can help. Numerous studies have shown the power of this ancient practice that involves stretching and strengthening to relieve back soreness and improve flexibility and stamina.
Check out our Top Scientific Benefits of Yoga infographic:
Common causes of back pain
Weak back muscles and core muscles
Whether your lower back pain originates from injury, a weak core, or simply sitting too much, an aching back can slow down your life and lead to much more severe issues down the road. Back pain can diminish your quality of life, causing you to miss work, family, and social activities that you enjoy. It may even inhibit your ability to complete simple, everyday tasks like vacuuming.
Don’t wait until your back pain gets out of hand. Start investing a few minutes daily in your back health now, and a strong, flexible back can be yours for keeps.
How to avoid back pain
Help prevent back pain and protect your spine with these important tips:
When standing, balance your body weight equally between both legs.
Practice yoga postures regularly to strengthen your back.
Eat a healthy, nutritious diet.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid sitting for long periods by getting up at regular intervals and walking or doing some mild stretching.
Get good sleep.
In addition to your back muscles, strengthen your core, hips, and hamstrings, as they all support your back.
Manage your stress. Breathwork and meditation can help tremendously.
Managing back pain
The many are well chronicled, and relief of back pain relief is near the top of the list. According to research published in the , yoga may even help reduce the need for pain medication.
Whether it's a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or strained muscles, diagnosing and treating the can take time. So, while you're trying to figure it out with your healthcare provider, the practice of like physical therapy and yoga can help you achieve some level of comfort and (always follow the guidance of your healthcare provider).
Points to keep in mind while practicing yoga to relieve back pain
Practice these yoga postures gently and with caution, as doing them incorrectly might result in serious back problems.
Respect your body. Each body type is unique and has different parameters of flexibility. Only do as much as you comfortably can.
These yoga postures are helpful in strengthening the back and maintaining the general health of the spine. If you have a serious back issue like a slipped disc or arthritis, we strongly recommend that you consult your doctor before trying out any of these yoga postures.
Pregnant women should consult a doctor before doing these yoga postures. Most women accept back pain as a common symptom of pregnancy, but it is important to attend to it so that your back does not trouble you after delivery.
Top 7 yoga postures for relief of back pain
Click each of the following links for step-by-step instructions.
, warms up your back and loosens up the tight spots.
, elongates the spine and releases tension and stress.
, releases tension from the lower back.
, strengthens your spine and back muscles.
, quickly relieves lower back pain.
, lengthens the torso and back muscles and builds strength.
, releases tension in the spine.
Some of the above asanas can also be explored in the following video:
An easy 5-minute yoga sequence to soothe back pain
All direction back stretch
You can comfortably practice this yoga pose at your desk, in an airplane, in front of your television, or on your yoga mat.
How to do all direction back stretch
Sit comfortably on your sitting bones. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Most importantly, smile. If you prefer to practice these yoga postures while standing, keep your feet parallel.
Lengthening the spine
Breathing in, slowly lift your arms above your head.
Interlace your fingers so that the thumbs touch each other gently. Gaze straight ahead.
Stretch up as much as you comfortably can, lengthening your spine. Keep your upper arms straight, with your biceps close to your ears. Let your shoulder blades spread out.
Hold the posture and breathe deeply.
To deepen the stretch, gently pull the belly button in towards the spine.
Twisting the spine to right and left
Keep your arms extended and fingers interlaced above your head.
Breathing out, gently twist to the right side. Hold this position for 2-3 long breaths.
Inhale, come back to the center.
Exhale, turn to your left side, and hold this position for 2-3 long breaths.
Inhale, return to the center.
Bending the spine right and left
Keep your fingers interlaced above your head.
Exhale, and slightly bend to the right side. Hold, and keep breathing.
Breathe in, and come back to the center.
Exhale, and bend to the left side. Ensure that you are not bending toward the front or back, and that both your right and left arms are equally stretched.
Breathing in, come back to the center.
To deepen the stretch, engage your abdominal muscles.
Bending the spine forward and backward
Breathing out, stretch your arms out in front of you with fingers interlaced.
Breathe in, and then as you breathe out, stretch forward, bending at the lower back.
Breathe in, and as you exhale, turn to your right side. Ensure that the arms are parallel to each other and stretched equally.
Breathing in, return to the center.
Exhale, and repeat the stretch, turning to the left.
Return to the center as you breathe in, and slowly bring your arms up above your head.
Unlock the fingers, and stretch back in a gentle backbend.
Inhale, and come back to the center. As you exhale, slowly bring your arms down alongside your body.
Twisting the spine from side-to-side
Place your left hand on your right knee. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, slowly twist to your right side. Press your right palm firmly on the mat beside your right hip.
Stretch upward by pressing the right palm into the mat. Keep your upper torso nice and tall. Do not lean backward or forward.
Inhale, and return to the center.
Exhale, and repeat the stretch on the left side. Place your right palm on your left knee and your left palm on the mat. Remember to keep your back straight and stretch tall.
Breathing in, return to the center.
Reverse your cross-legged position. If your right leg was placed over the left, now place the left leg over the right, then repeat the stretch as explained above to the right and left sides.
To deepen this stretch, engage the abdominal and hip muscles.
Benefits of all direction back stretch
Quickly eases lower back pain by gently releasing tension
Improves overall posture
Strengthens the back and abdominal muscles
Completely relaxes the back
Warms up the body before practicing other yoga postures
Helps open up the lungs so that they can be used to their full capacity
Note: We strongly advise those suffering from a herniated disc to practice yoga postures only after consulting your health care provider. You may also want to seek help from a trained yoga therapist if you have chronic pain. Forward bends and several other poses are contraindicated if you have any kind of disc condition.
Try breathwork and meditation for stress relief
Stress is one of the main causes of muscular tension, spasms, and back pain. Learn some simple breathing techniques and participate in a guided meditation by joining a with a live instructor.
Sejal Shah, E-RYT 500 Sri Sri Yoga Teacher, YACEP, C-IAYT, Meditation Teacher, NYU Post Graduate Medical School approved Yoga-CME retreat facilitator, Mind-Body Wellness Writer, Homeopath. She can be followed on , , and .