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Suffering from acute back pain?

Perhaps it’s related to an old injury, poor posture, a recent surgery, or another chronic condition that produces discomfort and pain in your back. Living with such a condition can be quite distracting and frustrating. But do you have to necessarily live with that chronic pain? What can you do to help feel better? Can yoga help with back pain? Yes, it can. As the Yogis say, “You cannot always control what goes on outside but you can always control what goes on inside”, there are a numerous benefits to practicing yoga.

Before we dive into the benefits of yoga for back pain, be sure to consult a doctor to receive the proper diagnosis and mode of treatment before trying these yoga poses. You want to be certain that you are safe with your body when approaching a physical practice like yoga. That being said, there is no need to push yourself  into a pose that would produce more pain or discomfort. If you think you do not have the needed strength, flexibility or balance to do any of the above poses, use a Maji Sports Yoga Bolster to get optimal lower back support & deep stretch without any strain. It also has a 100% cotton twill cover that allows you to breathe freely and it is completely free of allergens, synthetics or chemicals. 

Now let's take a look at one of the best yoga poses for back pain.

Top yoga pose to relieve tightness around your back:

1.) Seated Forward Fold

Start by sitting on the floor or yoga mat. Extend your legs out in front of you. If you need to, place a slight bend in your knees. To create a full length in your spine, place your hands on the floor next to your hips. Press firmly into the ground in order to lift and lengthen your torso and spine. This also produces space between the vertebrae so that you can eventually fold forward.This is a very useful and beneficial yoga posture that can assist your body when you experience some tension, minor pain, or tightness throughout your entire back. The posture initially targets the low back area (the lumbar spinal region and erector muscles) but also creates relief for the entire back. Here's how you do it:

Take a full breath in to increase the length throughout your back and raise your arms into the air. Exhale, and begin to slowly fold over your legs. Take your time and move slowly. You may begin to experience a stretch feeling along your back. Pause when you feel a sufficient stretch. The idea is to create a light flexion or stretch sensation to ease any tension that has settled into your back. Hold the posture for 10 to 20 breaths to ensure a good stretch.

Seated Forward Fold

2.) How Cat & Cow poses done together will align your back

Another way to release some tension in your sore back is to re-introduce steady movement throughout the whole spinal column and the muscles supporting the spine. A simple, yet effective movement involves flowing through two yoga poses: Cat Pose and Cow Pose.

Begin the posture on your hands and knees. Be sure your hips are stacked directly over your knees and your shoulders align over your wrists. Inhale and lift your head to look forward. As you do so, allow your back to arch (like you're doing a minor back bend.) Your pelvis will also tilt back. As you exhale, tuck your pelvis under, and allow your back to round. Your chin will also tuck in toward your chest. Continue the breath and this flowing movement of the spine for 10 more breaths. This undulation of the spine creates good mobility throughout your back. This articulation is like a gentle massage that positively effects your hips, spine, back muscles, and neck. 

3.) Strengthen your abdominal muscles with Seated Spinal Twist

Just as the Cat & Cow movements return mobility to your stiff back, another movement to practice is a spinal twist or rotation. A twisting motion rotates the spine along its own axis. When you're stiff or sore, turning like this can be limited or painful. Re-gaining mobility in a rotating action is ideal for your back. And because you're twisting, it will also strengthen your abdominal muscles.

Sit on the floor or yoga mat with your legs crossed. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you on the floor along your spine. Take a full breath in while pressing your right hand into the floor to lengthen your spine. Exhale and draw your navel inward toward your spine to engage your core. Then slowly twist your body toward your right knee. Do this one more time then hold the posture for 10 breaths. This is a multi-functional movement. As mentioned, a rotation conditions the spine and abdominal muscles. Further, as you hold the position, it is allowing any tight muscles in the back to loosen and eventually give you a greater capacity to move. The light movement also helps relieve lower back pain. Be sure to practice the twist in the other direction. For such poses that involves movements of any kind, use Maji Sports Yoga Mat, made of natural jute fibers, to get a good grip and it also has anti-microbial properties for extra sweaty practices. 

Strengthen your abdominal muscles with Seated Spinal Twist

4.) Downward Facing Dog pose for your lower spinal region

Our livelihoods may create a condition where our spines become compacted: sitting or standing all day, driving, etc. This can result in back pain particularly in the lower spinal region. To reduce and relieve this constricted feeling, the back could benefit from regular lengthening.

Start this pose on your hands and knees. Curl your toes so that you can lift your hips into the air. Your body will form an inverted "V" shape. Press your hands firmly into the ground to lengthen and strengthen your arms and upper body. Place a slight bend in your knees and continue to send your hips up. This will create the length in the entire back the body needs. By sending your hips upward, while your hands press into your yoga mat, it produces an elongation in the body that will help soothe compressed and tight back muscles.

Downward Facing Dog pose for your lower spinal region

5.) Best yoga pose to strengthen your back muscles: Cobra Pose

In addition to the lengthening the back requires, the back also needs to be strengthened. Often, back pain can be a result of a lack in muscle engagement in your back. Try this pose to begin the process of strengthening your supportive back muscles.

Cobra Pose in yoga is a backbend, so you will start the posture by lying flat on your stomach. Place your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders. Be sure your legs are straight with your toes pointing toward the back of the room. As you inhale, imagine your are dragging yourself across the floor (like a snake) by pulling gently with your hands. At the same time, reach through your toes to the wall behind you. As you exhale, engage your abdominal muscles to support your body, and then slowly lift your chest off the floor. You really don't need to lift very high in order for this pose to be effective. Because you have engaged your abs muscles, you are supporting the erector muscles along the lower back as you rise. Hold this posture for 5-10 breaths. Rest for 30 seconds to a minute then do the pose again. This is a very effective way to bring strength and stability into your back. It can help with preventing any future back pain or injuries.

Best yoga pose to strengthen your back muscles: Cobra Pose Cobra Pose

6.) Relax your back with Child Pose at the end

After all this engaging and stretching of the back muscles, it is also important for your back to rest when it is sore, tired, or in pain. A simple relaxation pose, like Child Pose, can help with this.

Come to your hands and knees and sit back until your hips touch your heels. Extend your upper body forward and rest your forehead on the floor with your arms extended out in front of you. Simply hold this pose for several minutes. While in this position, your back is lengthening, stretching, and relaxing all at the same time. It's a wonderful way to finish your yoga for back pain practice.

These are just some simple, but very effective ways to help relieve back pain and discomfort using the techniques of only six yoga poses. “By mindfully practicing yoga, people can safely improve their mobility and strength while stretching tight and aching back muscles,” says Dr. Elson, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. Daily practice will definitely give you good results and restore your sore back for a longer period of time. Do not forget to give it a try!

Relax your back with Child Pose at the end

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