Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people are referred by their medical professional to try yoga. So this week I am going to share 5 simple poses, some which use props, which can help alleviate generalised back pain. If you are suffering from acute back issues, then always seek professional medical advice.
We start by looking at Child Pose - Balasana (Variation)
Come to the mat on your hands and knees. Keep the toes together and widen the knees to the width of the mat. Send the sitting bones down close towards the heels and bring the forehead to the mat.
Once there, lengthen the arms out in front of you and find your breath. By widening the knees you are able to release the chest lower and reduce rounding in the spine. This is a gentle release of back muscles that may be tight or fatigued. After several breaths, use your hands to support you as you rise out of the pose, so you avoid engaging the back muscles you just released. If you wanted to get more release, then try placing a yoga bolster or block on the sacrum which adds as an additional weight to help get deeper release down within the hips and to help release deeper into the back muscles and tissue.
Seated back extension
Here we look at introducing a yoga block, a lovely instrument to assist with extension and stability of the spine. If you don't own one, then a A4 hardback book or even a large lunch box can be just as effective. Come to a seated position on your mat (or in a chair) with your spine upright and long. (If sat on a chair, have the feet hip distance apart and the feet parallel to each other). Hold the block in both hands (with fingers extended) about shoulder-width apart in front of you.
If your shoulders are tight, then use a yoga belt, a scarf or even a normal belt and take the hands wider than shoulder-width apart to avoid pinching. On an inhale, begin to lift the block overhead with straight arms. Hold the block overhead as you take slow, full breaths. Begin to reach to block higher toward the ceiling to find length along the entire back. If you have a partner, they can stand over you and gently lift the hands to accentuate the lengthening of the spine.
Tadasana - standing pose with a pole
Stand with both feet under the hips, here we are going to use a pole (this could be a mop or broom if you struggle to find one) and vertically position and centre it between your feet, pressing into the floor. Firmly grip the pole with two hands in front of your nose, ( if the pole is long enough) drop the elbows, and begin to press the
pole into the floor so you lift and extend the spine. Watch that you do not overarch the low back or flare out the chest. Take a few deep breaths here. This pose decompresses your vertebral discs, releases the muscles of the back, and creates length and strength along the spine and core. It’s also a reminder of what good posture feels like.