Yoga for back pain – Introduced in India over 3,000 years ago, yoga is still being practiced today and is a great way to ensure your mental, physical and spiritual health. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit (an ancient Indian language) and it simply refers to the union of the mind and spirit.
Yoga poses also known as asanas are basically the physical part of yoga practice; although, they offer many more benefits. Practicing basic yoga positions has the potential of getting your day off to a great start.
The benefits of yoga are almost endless as once made a part of your daily routine, you will definitely notice a variety of positive changes to your overall health.
Additionally, yoga has been proven to aid people with anxiety and depression issues while offering curative solutions to a host of other health problems via its healing properties. Yoga has definitely stood the test of time with proven abilities to provide natural stress relief and ease or reduce pain in strategic locations in the body.
In a generation suffering from increased stress levels coupled with a worrying report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which estimates that between 70% to 90% of human will experience neck or back pain or both, the practice of yoga has become increasingly important.
Yoga is indeed useful for easing pains associated with the neck and back.
Effective Yoga Poses for Neck and Back Pain Relief
1. Warrior Two Pose
The warrior two pose is a standing pose aimed at stimulating power and strength. This yoga pose also stretches the back and lower body and puts emphasis on the arms which are required to be held out to the side while the head looks forward.
Warrior two helps in relieving neck pains by strengthening your chest and shoulders to become better support for your neck. You can achieve the warrior two by;
- Standing up straight while stepping your left leg to about 4 feet.
- Bend your right knee directly above your ankle.
- Ensure your back foot is positioned at an angle of 90 degrees.
- Hold out your arms to the side while your head liiks forward.
- Hold for about a minute and repeat while reversing the leg positions.
The warrior one pose compels all the main muscle groups to work in synergy which results in increased energy levels, strengthened legs, back, arms, hip and shoulders. The warrior one pose also improves good circulation and respiration.
One of the most prominent causal factors for back pain is tightened hips and what the Butterfly pose does is to open the hips up without putting pressure on the back. The butterfly pose can be achieved by:
- Lying on your back while ensuring that the soles of your feet come together.
- Allow your knees fall out to the side.
- Relax your shoulders as you close your eyes.
- Rest your hands on your tummy and breathe in deeply and slowly; your stomach expands.
- Now breathe out completely as you feel your stomach contracting.
- Repeat as many times as you can.
The butterfly pose targets your spinal, gluteus and hamstring muscles and when performed properly, it can also enhance your core stability by targeting your abdominal muscles as well as your hip and lower back.
3. Standing Forward Bend
Simply put, the straight forward bend is a gentle forward fold for relief of the lower back and neck. You can achieve the standing forward bend by:
- Standing on your feet while it’s being spread apart to the width of your hip as you allow your head to hang towards the floor.
- Maintain a gentle bend in your knees while you grab opposite elbows.
- Sway your hips gently from side to side as you relax your head and neck completely.
- Breathe in and out deeply and calmly through your nose.
The Standing forward bend yoga pose also helps in stretching the hamstrings, hips, and calves while building up strength in your knees and thighs.
4. Knees to Chest
As the name suggests, this pose involves bringing your knees up to your chest and this is indeed an effective pose to relieve a stiff lower back. You can achieve the knees to chest yoga pose by:
- Wrapping your arms around your legs and pulling them on to your chest.
- Maintain a totally relaxed shoulder.
- You can also bring your forehead towards the knee.
- Gently sway from back and forth and from side to side, while massaging your lower back on the floor.
- Breathe in and out from your nose and keep at it for as long as possible.
The knees to chest pose stretches and eases tension in the lower back while massaging the abdominal area. This pose is also great at adding more diaphragmatic space in the spines in addition to specifically targeting the biceps, triceps and deltoids muscles.
5. Gentle Seated Twist
The gentle Seated twist can be compared to twisting a wet towel and this is not only a good pose for flexibility. It also helps in lengthening and mobilizing the thoracic spine while providing relief.
You can achieve the seated twist by;
- Sitting with your legs straight.
- Bend your knees while putting your feet on the floor.
- Put your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip
- Lay the outside of the left leg on the mat
- Ensure your right leg is put over your left while your right foot stands on the floor outside your left hip.
- Your right knee points up directly towards the ceiling.
- Perform upper body twists as far as your waist and shoulders can allow you to turn.
- Hold on for about 30 seconds and then stretch the other way.
The gentle seated twist pose also helps with detoxification as it reduces stress and anxiety. This yoga pose specifically targets muscles surrounding your hips and its rotators, as well as abdominal muscles.
6. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a very effective restorative yoga pose that works on the lower back and is a perfect yoga pose especially for those who sit down for long hours. The child’s pose can be achieved by:
- Elongating your arms by reaching out and inhaling through your nose.
- Then, take a long exhale through your mouth.
- You will notice that with each exhalation, your chest softens a little more towards the floor.
Also known as child’s resting pose, this yoga pose specifically targets and stretches the muscles and joints surrounding the hips, thighs and ankles.
7. Corpse Pose
The corpse pose allows you to relax while letting go of any stress or tension in your body. The corpse pose can be achieved by:
- Lie down on your back with your feet positioned a little wider than your hips while your toes are splayed out sideways.
- Place your arms alongside your body in a resting position while facing your palms upwards.
- Align your head, neck and spine by adjusting your body appropriately.
- Breathe deeply as you focus on releasing any tightness or stiffness in your body.
- Maintain this pose for at least 5 minutes.
Often used for relaxation at the end of a session, you stand to gain a whole lot of additional benefits from the corpse pose including; improved concentration, improved blood circulation, relaxation of muscles as well as a panacea for insomnia.
8. Downward-Facing Dog
Regarded as the ‘mother of yoga poses’, The downward-facing dog pose helps free up stiff spines and shoulders which in turn helps in easing pains in the neck and back.
To achieve the Downward-Facing Dog,
- Press your upper back down like a dog
- Bend your knees and lift your butt up high.
- Straighten your legs slowly.
- Hold the posture for 5-10 breaths while pedaling your legs.
The Downward-Facing Dog rejuvenates the entire body as it focuses on muscles surrounding the hamstrings, shoulders, hands, arches, spine, and calves.
9. Sphinx Pose
The sphinx pose is a gentle backbend that helps in stretching your shoulders and strengthening your spine. The sphinx pose also opens up the chest, lungs and shoulders in addition to lengthening the abdominal muscles.
This yoga pose can be achieved by:
- Lying down flat on your stomach with your elbows placed under your shoulders while pressing into your forearms and palms.
- Lift your upper torso and head while you tighten your thighs, lower back, and buttocks for support.
- Gaze straight ahead and ensure your spine is being lengthened.
- Maintain the pose for at least 2 minutes.
The Sphinx Pose also specifically targets the muscles surrounding the spine and buttocks while ensuring that the body is invigorated and devoid of fatigue.
10. Cow Face Pose
The Cow Face Pose is a seated yoga posture that aids in stretching and opening up your chest, hips, and shoulders.
This pose can be achieved by:
- Positioning yourself in a comfortable seated position.
- Raise your right elbow and bend your arm in a way that your hand comes to your back.
- Use your left hand to gently pull your right elbow to the left.
- Maintain this pose for 30 seconds and then do it on the other side.
The Cow Face Pose also helps in calming the mind while bringing balance to the whole body. This pose specifically targets essential muscles in the body, including the hips, thighs, ankles, axilla, shoulder, triceps, and brachial muscles.
11. Cat-Cow Pose
The cat-cow is a great relief for neck and back pain as it opens up the whole spine. By flexing and extending the neck, there is a release of tension, which aids in relieving any pain in the surrounding area.
To achieve the cat-cow pose,
- Firstly, you get down on your mat on all fours.
- Gaze up to the ceiling while you drop your back downwards to the floor and inhale.
- Look down at your belly button, arch your back up just like a cat while you exhale.
- Repeat the above steps for a few minutes.
The movement achieved by the cat-cow poses increases the flexibility of the neck, shoulders, and spine while focusing on muscles surrounding the hips, abdomen, lungs, and back.
Here are some additional benefits you stand to enjoy from these Yoga Poses
- Practicing these yoga poses for back pain helps you feel more calm and relaxed, thereby eliminating signs of stress.
- Yoga has been proven to improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and slowing the heart rate, which is ideal for people recovering from a stroke or having experiences with high blood pressure or heart conditions.
- It also boosts the immune system by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Yoga enhances mental clarity and focus, which is important for being effective and efficient in your daily activities.
- Good night sleep is important for a healthy lifestyle, and yoga enhances your sleep life allowing your brain function properly, which in turn regulates your sleep cycle.
- Yoga builds your endurance and stamina throughout your daily activities, thereby eliminating the occurrence of fatigue.
It is hard to debate against the proven benefits of these yoga poses for back pain.
However, if these steps are taken and improvement is not noticed on neck and back pains, it is advised that the visit the doctor for professional diagnostics and treatment programs if required.