Yoga is one of the best and most fun ways to care for your spine. Each practice is unique and you can modify any movement to fit your particular spine health needs. Many yogis have dedicated classes or movements toward relieving back or neck pain.
We want to offer you a few poses to consider using if you are attempting to deal with that kind of pain.
- Seated Figure Four
Use this common yoga pose to stretch both hips and relieve back pain. Notice the comforting feeling of stretch. Sit on your tailbone, lean back slightly onto your hands. Place your ankle over the knee of the opposite leg, keeping the shin parallel to the floor. Hold stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
2. Bridge Pose
Begin by laying flat on the ground or a mat. Bend the knees leaving your feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise hip upwards, paying attention to any pain or discomfort. Keep core tight and lean into the shoulders. Raise hips as high as is comfortable. Be sure to squeeze the glutes and core. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
3. Cat-Cow Pose
This is one of the most common yoga poses, used in nearly every practice. Position yourself on all fours. Take a deep breath as you extend your belly downward and your neck upward, slowly. Slightly arch the back and let all the air out to full cow pose. As you breath in, raise your spine and lower your neck in line with the spine (not putting the chin to the chest) toward cat pose. Repeat these two exercises slowly each at least five times.
4. Pigeon Pose
Bend one knee in front of your body. Extend other leg straight back and settle in on the bent leg. After getting into position, attempt to balance the weight of your body equally to both sides. Focus on the stretch in the hip of the bent leg. If you’d like, you can lift both hands, as in this photo. You can also put your hands on either side of the body or lean slightly forward. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on opposite leg.
5. Downward Dog
Another basic pose, but one that’s great for your spine. Start on all fours. Slowly, lift your buttocks upward, bringing your hands and feet a few steps in at a time until your body is positioned upward. Keep the core tight, your neck neutral, and really feel the stretch through your shoulders. Pay attention to any pain or discomfort. Be sure to pedal feet up and down to get the body used to being in position. Hold position for 20 seconds. Repeat multiple times.
6. Sphinx Pose
Lie on your belly. Squeeze the glutes and core. Then, raise up slowly on your elbows. Lift just slightly on the elbows, noticing any pain or discomfort. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
This is not a comprehensive list of poses, but start using them in your practice several times a week and notice how your back tension begins to change over time. If something isn’t working for you, modify, replace or simply eliminate. Always speak with your doctor about your plan.
Learn more about yoga for spine health here.