The nagging pain in the back is not only discomforting but also a spoiler when it comes to enjoying life. Isn’t it? The lumbar region or lower back is often an area of concern for most of us who are accustomed to the comforts of modern day living. Long hours of sitting coupled with bad posture happen to be few common reasons behind back pain.
When the pain is consistent and severe, it is definitely advisable to visit your general practitioner for a diagnosis; however, for a mild to moderate low back pain, a carefully adapted set of Yoga stretches can be the best remedy.
Some facts about Low Back Pain
Lower back pain can be considered as the most widespread and common experience as almost everyone has it at some point.
Symptoms range from a dull ache to a shooting sensation, making it difficult to sit or stand straight.
Acute back pain may surface suddenly, especially after sports related injuries or heavy lifting; or due to your bad posture (slouching), sitting for long hours, carrying an overstuffed bag daily to work, being overweight, etc.
Overdoing it at the gym or extreme workout/activity on weekends after being inactive through the week are other common causes of low back pain.
If the pain lasts for more than three months, it is considered chronic. Spinal stenosis, spondylitis and fibromyalgia are other chronic conditions that can lead to back pain.
If back pain doesn’t go away in three months, there’s evidence that Yoga can help. In one study, people who took 12 weeks of yoga classes had fewer symptoms of low back pain than people who were given a book about care for back pain.
The age-old practice of Yoga includes different asanas, each with a specific purpose, targeting particular areas of the body. Stretching with breath awareness associated with the asana practice is one of the best remedies to get rid of a stiff back, loosen those muscles and bring back that lost agility.
Apart from relieving the pain and discomfort, performing Yoga on a daily basis acts as preventative care and the chances of recurrence are diminished.
Check out the following yoga asanas that are mainly a combination of flexion and extension exercises. In flexion exercises, you bend forward to stretch the muscles of the back and hips. In extension exercises, you bend backward to develop the muscles that support the spine. These poses can help you with that dull ache in your back and bring back that lost smile in your face.
Chakravakasana (Cat-Cow Pose)
One of the most common and recommended poses for back pain is the Cat-Cow Pose, popularly known as Marjariasana. The asana involves the movement of the spine which releases tension from the back and also strengthens your spine.
How to Do:
Be on all fours so that hips are over the knees and shoulders are over the wrists.
Inhale and while exhaling round the spine and bring your chin to the chest ?
Now while inhaling lift the head towards the ceiling while arching the back.
Continue the asana for 2 to 3 minutes.
Note: People with an injury in the shoulders should avoid the pose. Pregnant women should perform the pose under expert guidance.
Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Supine Twist)
This is another wonderful asana that will work on your stiff back muscles. This isn’t a difficult pose and can even be practiced by beginners.
How to Do:
Lie on the back.
Bring the knees to your chest and drop both of your knees on one side and turn your head to the opposite direction.
Your hips and knees and should be in line, and try to keep the chest facing towards the ceiling.
Hold the pose for a minute and repeat on the other side.
Note: In case of severe back pain, avoid this pose. Do not practice this asana if you had an internal surgery.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Balasana is an effective pose to give the body the much needed relaxation. Another great thing about this pose is that the hips and the backs are stretched to a good extent, keeping them flexible and free from pain.
How to Do:
Kneel on the mat with you knees hip-width apart.
The feet should be together, as you sit on your heels.
Inhale, and while exhaling come down in such a way that your torso is over the thighs.
Extend the arms in front and the forehead should rest on the mat.
Stay in the pose for 2 to 3 minutes.
Note: People with severe spondylitis should avoid the pose. Those with an injury in the ankle should also stay away from this pose.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
This basic Hatha Yoga pose is considered to be among the best asanas that stretch the back. Regular performance of the asana makes the back strong and flexible.
How to Do:
Lie down flat on the stomach with the arms by the side of your body.
The feet should be hip-width apart.
Inhale and lift the legs as well as chest off the ground.
Bend your knees and stretch your hands back to hold your ankles as you pull your leg back. Try and lift your legs higher towards the ceiling.
Keep breathing and relax your face muscles as your body assumes the shape of a bow.
Be in the pose for about 30 seconds and release.
Note: People with severe injuries in the lower back should avoid this asana. Also, people suffering from low or high blood pressure, migraines, neck injuries and headache should stay away from it.
Adho Mukha Svānāsana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Loaded with benefits, the Downward Facing Dog Pose rejuvenates the entire body and alleviates lower back pain as well.
How to Do:
Come on all fours in such a manner that a table like structure is formed.
Exhale and lift the hips gently while straightening your knees and elbows. Make sure that you form the shape of an inverted ‘V’ with your body.
Keep the palms shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart.
Press with your hands on the ground and gaze towards your navel.
If possible, try and press the heels into the floor to feel a deep stretch in the back of the legs.
Be in the position for about 30 seconds and release by bending the knees and getting back to the table position.
Note: People suffering from diarrhea, weak eye capillaries, dislocated shoulder, detached retina, high blood pressure and carpal tunnel syndrome should not practice this pose.
Halasana (Plough Pose)
The Plough Pose or Halasana happens to be an inverted posture that comes with multiple benefits. Daily practice of the pose calms the mind and acts a good exercise for spine health and the back.
How to Do:
Lie on the back with the arms placed by the side of the body and palms facing down.
Take a deep breath and lift both legs off the ground only with the help of the abdominal muscles.
Keep the legs at 90-degree angle.
Now support the hips with the hands
Bring the legs forward, over your head, and continue to lower them behind the head.
Try and touch the floor with your toes and as you do this, the chest moves closer to the chin.
Be in the position for about a minute. And slowly bring your legs down without any jerk.
Note: Women in menstruation should not practice this pose. Also, those suffering from high blood pressure, diarrhea and neck injury better avoid the practice of this pose.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Resembling the structure of a bridge, this pose relaxes the body and stretches the chest, neck, and back to a good extent.
How to Do:
Lie flat on your back.
Bend the knees and keep them hip-width apart. Ensure that the knees and ankles are in a straight line.
Your arms should be by the side of your body with the palms facing down.
Breathe in and lift the lower, mid and upper back off the mat.
Roll in the shoulders and touch the chest to the chin.
Tighten your buttocks and ensure that your thighs are parallel to the ground and each other.
Interlacing your fingers (optional), push the hands on the ground and lift your torso higher.
Stay in the position for about 30 seconds and release the pose while exhaling.
Note: Pregnant women should practice it under an expert’s guidance. Those with pain in their neck
s should avoid the pose.
Author Bio : Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He organizes 200 hour yoga teacher training in Nepal. Bipin Baloni conducts Yoga Teacher Training in India in different cities. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.