The Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain and Strain

Back pain and strain is one of the leading causes of physical complaints in this country and around the world. Whether caused by overly assertive exercise, lifting something that’s too heavy or the most common cause – years of a sedentary lifestyle sitting in cars, in front of computers and on the couch – back pain affects almost 80% of the general population. You should try yoga poses to help eliminate these muscles tension and you should take proper care of your body to prevent injuries.

While some types of back pain originate in the back/spine itself, back pain is often a result of imbalance or weakness in another area of the body. A weakened core, tight hips and hamstrings, and poor posture can all lead to back pain. For this reason, doctors, nurses, and physical therapists often recommend yoga for the treatment of back pain. The practice addresses weaknesses and imbalance throughout the entire body. It is also great for building strength, increasing flexibility, reducing stress, and elevating mood – all of which contribute to a happy, healthy back.

woman doing yoga

Several recent studies have shown yoga to be very effective at reducing back pain. In fact, in an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Jeffrey Smith, a professor of neurology and a practitioner of yoga, was quoted as saying: “Yoga offers benefits that have real clinical significance in the treatment of back pain. It is very safe.” Although there are no long-term studies on the efficacy of yoga for the treatment of back pain, those who have tried it have had favorable results. Most studies on yogic medicine have been in seniors. Yoga has been shown to significantly reduce pain and to decrease the need for medical treatment.

So what are the best postures for back pain?

Yoga strengthens the vital muscles of the spine and helps regulate the spine and relieve chronic pain. If you are having back pain and you’re not able to do the many different types of hatha yoga exercises to keep the stress away from your body, we have picked the best yoga poses to work off your back pain. Yes, these yoga poses are hard for your body but if you are prone to injury, you don’t have to do them. Your body is strong enough and tough enough to handle the yoga poses. These yoga poses are the best to work off your back pain. If you are having back pain, you don’t have to strain yourself to do these poses.

Here are SIX simple yet effective poses that relieve low back pain:

Cat / Cow: Fluid posture performed on the hands and knees that moves the spine in a wave-like motion from flexion (rounded or dome-shaped) to extended (gentle arch). Cat / Cow warms the body, releases spinal tension, and prepares the body for movement.

Seated Spinal Twist: This sweet and gentle spinal rotation is performed in a seated position. Twisting is a safe way to re-align the vertebrae while “wringing out” (like a wet towel) internal organs and releasing toxins.

woman performing yoga

Triangle Pose: This pose is a spinal “triple threat.” It opens up the hamstrings and the outer hip muscles while lengthening and strengthening the back muscles and the sides of your body. In this standing position, the triangle shape is created by the legs, arms, spine, and the floor.

Dolphin Pose: A more advanced pose that lengthens and strengthens upper back, core, and shoulder muscles. In this posture the body takes on an upside down V shape, similar to downward dog, and is supported by the forearms and feet.

silhouette photography of woman doing yoga

Runners Lunge (Lizard): A low, wide stance lunge that opens and elongates the hip flexors (psoas) and inner thighs muscles to relieve tension in the low back. This posture can be performed on the palms with the back knee down or, for more intensity, on the forearms with a lifted back knee.

Bridge Pose: This back strengthening supine pose performed by floating the hips off the ground (knees bent, feet hips-width apart). A precursor to backbends, this pose builds core and lower body strength while lengthening and strengthening the spine.

Notwithstanding of whether or not you have back pain, strain or just mild discomfort, yoga is a great way to align, strengthen, stretch and restore your spine to optimal wellness. Look for yoga classes that begin with gentle warm-up movements that focus on the six movements of the spine: forward flexion, extension, right and left rotation, and right and left side bending. These warm-up exercises open and prepare the body for movement.