Back pain can cause all sorts of added discomfort such as headaches, tightening of the chest, restricted mobility and stress. Routine stretching can help ease back pain by improving blood and nutrient circulation, keeping the muscles lissome and the bones aligned.
In this post, we sought recommendations from British yoga teacher Heidi Cevik, who teaches yoga internationally and is certified through the School of Sacred Arts in Ubud, Bali.
Her training in Yin yoga incorporates slower paced movements and holding poses for longer periods, focusing on tension and compression areas such as the hips, legs, and spine. Cevik advises working with a teacher to build a tailored Yin practice for you and your body.
Try these poses and spinal stretches that can alleviate and soothe your back pains.
If done regularly, Tadasana can significantly improve posture as it stretches the shoulders, the spine and the muscles supporting the upper back. When doing Tadasana, be mindful of your connection with the ground as well as where you carry your weight. This might seem overly simple but finding your centre and making sure the body is aligned can be more challenging than it looks.
Step1 – Stand with your feet, hip distance apart and engage the thigh muscles or lift the knees.
Step 2 – Roll the shoulder blades down the spine and lift the chest with each inhale. Tense the belly muscles with each exhale.
Step 3 – If it feels good for the shoulders, raise your arms above your head and put your palms together. At the same time, push your hips slightly forward. Do this in time with your breathing. Exhale and lower your arms slowly and widely on your sides as your hips go back in line with your body in a smooth, fluid motion.
Anahata is a back bend pose that helps relieve tension on the upper and middle back. It opens the heart and extends the spine. This asana is good for tight shoulders but not advised for lower back pain and knee pain.
Step 1 – Position yourself on all fours, down on your hands and knees. Keeping your hips lifted above your knees, stretch your arms forward to the top of your mat, keeping them apart, and slowly lower your face towards the mat.
Step 2 – Check that your hips are still over your knees and not too far forward – imagine them on a vertical line – so as not to push your tummy too close to the mat or too far back. Keep your forehead on the floor and your shoulders lifted. Stay in this position for at least ten full, deep breaths. You might feel intense sensations throughout your arms and shoulders.
Step 3 – To come out of the pose, use your core strength to slowly move your hips back and get into Balasana, the Child’s Pose. With your knees still on the mat, rest your forehead on the ground, your hips on your heels and your arms by your sides for 30 seconds.
Salabhasana: The Locust Pose
Our spine supports the weight of our body and we can, in turn, support it by strengthening the abs and back muscles. Lower back pain may come from from curling the body or slouching – when we’re sat on our office chairs, for example, or driving for long hours. Salabhasana helps tone the abs and bends the spine backwards, as if to counter slouching, but in a horizontal way. This pose can be intense and is a good exercise for mindfulness.
Step 1 – Lay on your front, arms by your side, palms facing up. Rest your chin on the mat so you’re facing forward rather than facing the ground.
Step 2 – Keeping your head in line with your spine, slowly lift your shoulder up. Don’t lurch your neck back. Keep it long and elongated. Bring your chest off the mat as you inhale, then lift your arms off the mat as well. Hold this position for at least ten breaths. Slowly bring your shoulder down and lay your head comfortably on the mat.
Step 3 – Repeat Step Two, but instead of bringing your torso back to the ground, bring your feet and legs off the ground at the same time. You lower abdomen and pelvic bone should be the only parts touching the mat. Hold for a few breaths then release back to the mat. Do this as many times as you feel comfortable. Short, sharp pain is a warning from your body so if you feel this at any time, gently come out of the pose and rest.