Yoga for a Strong Lower Back

A strong and supple lower back is one of the prime keys for getting through your hectic day without pain. A powerful back will not only let you lead a pain-free life, but it will help you to maintain a beautiful and healthy posture, increase your energy and make you feel better in all other aspects of your life.

Research in the UK supports the benefits of practising yoga to relieve lower back pain. [1] According to PubMed Health, the world’s largest medical library, a study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Manchester and York and at yoga studios in York and Cornwall found that lower back pain suffers who attended weekly yoga sessions had less pain during normal tasks than patients who did not.

There are many types of yoga to choose among. The Vinyassa form of yoga, often called ‘flow yoga’, is a natural choice for people who are interested in alleviating lower back pain. Vinyassa yoga focuses on stretching and moving the body in a controlled manner. Vinyassa yogi can either be performed slowly or more quickly, but this style concentrates on using your own breathe to control the progression of the yoga poses, or asanas as they these body positions are also called.

YogaJournal.com suggests that the four following simple yoga postures can help to strengthen your lower back muscles and increase your flexibility.[2]

Make sure to consult your physician before beginning this, or any other, exercise program.

Get warmed up with the Warrior Pose One

  1. Stand facing forward with your feet four feet from each other. Make sure that your weight is evenly distributed.
  2. Step your left leg back and bring your hands to your hips. Bring your right hip forward by bending your right leg. Make sure that your left hip is gently pushing backwards. Advanced students may want to bend their right leg until their right thigh is parallel to the floor.
  3. Inhale and raise your arms slowly over your head and reach high up towards the ceiling. At the same time make sure that your shoulder blades are pressed against your back and directed down towards the ground.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, exhale and bring your arms slowly down. Return to the starting pose and repeat on the opposite side.

Try the Cow Pose to provide a massage to your spine.

  1. Get on your hands and knees. Make sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders and that your knees are below your hips. Your head is down and you are looking at the floor.
  2. Inhale and your lift your lower spine and chest up towards the ceiling. Raise your head and look straight ahead.
  3. Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

For advanced yoga practitioners, the Cat Pose can be performed during the exhale portion of Cow Pose. For beginning students, each pose may be performed separately.

Use the Cat Pose to stretch the back, torso and neck.

  1. Get on your hands and knees and position your hands and knees in the same way the same way as the Cow Pose. Again, your head is down and looking at the ground.
  2. As you exhale, round your back and push it towards the ceiling. Let your chin slowly sink down. You don’t have to bring your chin to your chest, just let your neck hang down in a natural position.
  3. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Finish your back conditioning yoga with the Garland Pose

  1. Squat with your feet as close together as possible.
  2. Separate your legs slightly and lean forward, exhale and lean forward.
  3. Press your palms together and press outward with your elbows against your inner thigh.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.

[1] (2011) Yoga ‘helps chronic lower back pain’. PubMed Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2011-11-01-yoga-helps-chronic-lower-back-pain/

[2] Poses. YogaJournal.com. Retrieved from http://www.yogajournal.com/pose

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