Aside from strengthening every muscle group in your body and improving flexibility and overall health, yoga is also great for alleviating body pain, including the pestering backache.
It’s time to admit that we are not perfect and can sometimes be afflicted with ailments. A very common one is back pain, for example.
While it’s easy to reach for that shiny little bottle of ibuprofen, wait! There is another way: yoga. This is when choir music floods your ears, the great Pearly Gates push open and your subconscious urges you to get off the couch.
Here is our roundup of five yoga poses that will help alleviate back pain and increase your strength. Take your time; some of these are more challenging than others. You can do all of these in order (we’ve organized them to flow) or just a few. To be clear, if you experience unbearable pain, please desist.
Upward-facing dog and downward-facing dog poses
- To begin with upward-facing dog, lie flat on your stomach with your hands facing down by mid-rib cage.
- Using your back, lift your chest off the floor, with your hands/arms propping you up for support.
- Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths. Repeat as needed.
- When ready, shift back to step 1 position.
- Push yourself off the floor, tailbone toward the ceiling, arms and legs straight, feet flat on the mat. Your back and arms should be in line. You should look like a human 90-degree angle.
- Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
Extended triangle pose
- Begin in mountain pose (feet together, hands at sides).
- Place your feet about 4 feet apart, left foot pointing forward and right foot turned approximately 90 degrees to the right. Right and left heels must be aligned.
- Raise your arms parallel to the floor. Bending at the hip, lower your left hand to your ankle (you can rest it there). Keep your arm straight. Raise your right arm to the ceiling. Your shoulders should remain in line with both arms.
- You can either gaze forward or turn your head up and look at your right thumb. Keep the pose for 5 to 10 breaths. Come up and switch feet.
Cat and cow poses
- To move into cat pose, begin on all fours.
- Lift your spine up, arching your back. Hold for a few seconds.
- Then moving into cow pose, arch your back toward the floor, scooping your spine in. Lift your head up.
- Move between the cat and cow poses 5 to 10 times.
- Kneel on the floor with knees hip width apart, legs perpendicular to the floor.
- Now, for beginners, place your hands on the back of your pelvis and lean back, keeping your chin up. For seasoned yogis, place your hands on your feet while keeping your thighs perpendicular to the floor.
- Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then bring the torso back up.
- This is easiest if you start in downward-facing dog.
- Bring your left knee forward (toward your chest), and bend it to the left so it is perpendicular to your right leg. Lower both legs to the mat.
- Keep your right leg straight behind you. Arch your back. You can keep your hands on your left knee or by its side.
- Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths. Switch legs.
These poses are simple and perfect for beginners. We do recommend grabbing a yoga book or attending a class to learn about the many other benefits of the practice. Experiment, and let us know how it went!