Therapeutic Yoga for Back Pain

yoga for back painBy Faye Martins

Back pain can take over every aspect of your life, making even day-to-day existence a chore. Many people turn to doctors and medications to relieve back pain, but there’s actually a much simpler solution. There are many yoga poses that will stretch the back and leg muscles to relieve discomfort. Yoga is more than a temporary solution; it provides long-term results for as long as you continue your practice. Even beginners can perform simple stretches for nearly instant results. If you’ve never tried yoga before, it’s definitely worth a shot at relieving the discomfort and added stress that back pain can bring.

Causes of Back Pain

 

Chronic back pain can be misleading, because its root cause might actually be weak abdominal muscles, tight hamstrings, or just a general lack of flexibility in all of your body’s muscles. In order to get your back feeling better, your body needs overall stretching and strengthening. Long, lean muscles will support your frame and eliminate extra pressure on your back. The hips, spine, and legs being out of alignment with each other might also cause back pain. All yoga poses work to bring the body back into proper alignment, thereby reducing or eliminating back pain.

Standing Forward Bend Posture – Uttanasana

 

The forward bend is a wonderful pose to release and stretch all the muscles in the back of the legs and thighs. It can also be invigorating for the mind, as it renews the blood supply to the brain upon coming out of the pose. To perform a forward bend, stand with feet about hip width apart with the toes pointed forward. Reach up with both arms, then tip forward and down from the hips. Release your head and neck, allowing your body to hang with your torso touching your thighs. Hold each elbow with the opposite hand. Breathe deeply and slowly, allowing all of your muscles to release. When you’re ready to come out of the pose, slowly lift your torso up, keeping your spine straight. Allow the blood to flow back down your head, neck and spine before going into the next pose.

Half Forward Bend – Ardha Uttanasana

 

The Half Forward Bend is similar to the forward bend, but not as deep. Stand in front of a wall, so your outstretched hands will be able to rest flat on the wall. Firmly plant both hands with the fingers flat and pointing upwards. Step slowly back from the wall, bending from the hips, until your back is flat. Your body will form an L-shape. Elongate the spine by lifting the navel in towards the spine. Breathe deeply and slowly, holding the pose for as long as it feels comfortable. Slowly lift your torso up to release the pose. Decompression of the spine often reduces back pain. It is not a guaranteed solution, but gentle spinal decompression often helps reduce pain. If you have pre-existing skeletal injuries or conditions, please consult your doctor before participating in any exercise program.

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Williams KA, Petronis J, Smith D, et al. Effect of Iyengar yoga therapy for chronic low back pain. Pain. 2005;115:107–17.

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Erro J, et al. Comparing yoga, exercise, and a self-care book for chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2005;143:849.

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Galantino ML, Bzdewka TM, Eissler-Russo JL, et al. The impact of modified Hatha yoga on chronic low back pain: a pilot study. Alt Ther Health Med. 2004;10:56–9.

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6 thoughts on “Therapeutic Yoga for Back Pain”

  1. Dear Faye Martins,

    Back pain is a common problem even with persons doing Yoga in one form or the other. You have given both these postures on forward bending. Well relaxation is as much important in Yogasana as doing yoga postures. So what relaxation asana you suggest for back pain?
    I have been practicing bridge pose and Merudandasana as a counter pose for back pain with some relief.
    Please comment.

  2. Dear Faye,
    Namaskar; I am an ardent fan of Aura Yoga and I love reading articles published on different yoga poses along with the reasons for practising the asanas. Now the relief for back pain is really wonderful and a timely cure for me because I am suffering from one such pain for the last few days, may be because these days I am not regularly practising yogasanas, thanks for your informative as well as a timely article on the subject, please continue the service towards mankind for ever, thanks once again, with regards – Kalaiselvan

  3. Dear Dr. R K S Rathore,

    You are correct and you bring up many good points. The asanas i mentioned were for the purpose of decompressing the lower spine. Unfortunately, many people are sitting far too long due to working with computers, which causes the spinal compression.

    I really like your suggestions. For relaxation, it depends on the source of the back pain. For example: If the problem is Sciatica, Supta Padangusthasana might be a solution and it could be modified by bending the lower leg, which will bring the lumbar region into a neutral position.

    I would love to read your suggestions.

    Aum Shanti,

    Faye

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