Lower back pain is a problem that a lot of people face as they get older. From continuous sitting, hunching over computer screens, driving or sitting on a soft coach, the vertebrae begin to gradually compress down. The natural inward curve that we have in our lumbar spine may slowly begin to straighten out, or there may be an excessive curve. In both cases, the vertebrae can rub together and cause immense pain.
Asanas that can help lower back pain
Tadasana or Mountain Pose
Practicing this active standing posture helps us to build awareness of our posture. When in Tadasana, close your eyes and bring your awareness inside the body. Find your breath, breathing deeply and fully through the nose. As you exhale, feel your feet grounding down into the earth, actively pushing the corners of your feet into the mat. As you inhale, feel yourself rise up through the top of the head, lengthening the spine, becoming taller. Try and find space between your vertebrae, decompressing your spine by rooting down and rising up simultaneously.
Cat and Cow Poses
This gentle sequence encourages movement in the spine and is excellent for releasing tension. Practice with care, listening to your body and how far you can comfortably move your spine. Synchronise your movement with your breath.
Twisting is so important for the health of the spine. Check out my blog article ‘Love your spine with yoga twists‘ for more information.
Often a major cause of lower back pain is tight hamstrings and hips. Forward bends generally aren’t recommended for people who suffer from lower back pain, but it’s still important to stretch out the legs. Legs-up-the-wall pose is an excellent pose for this as it gently stretches out the legs, but without adding any pressure to the spine. If you are particularly tight, have your buttocks a few inches back from the wall and bend your knees slightly. You can stay in this pose for up to 10 minutes.
Reclining Big Toe pose
Reclining Big Toe Pose is also good for stretching out the legs and hamstrings without compromising the health of the spine. If the backs of your legs are very tight, use a belt to wrap around to foot of your extended leg, and bend the knee of the opposite leg.
Asanas to avoid-
A practice with too much emphasis on forward bends such as Utthanasana (standing forward bend) or Paschimottanasana (seated forward bends) isn’t a good idea, especially if your spine is flattened in the lumbar region (lower back) and you have tight hamstrings. When we practice forward bends, our lumbar spine flexes, loosing its natural curve and more weight is put on the front of the discs. In forward bending, the weight of the upper body is on the vertebrae of the lumbar spine. This is why poses such as reclining big toe pose are so great, the health of the back is not compromised in order to stretch out the legs.
If you practice this short routine daily, you will notice an improvement in your back pain within a few weeks. Obviously each person is different, so please make sure to consult your doctor before starting a new routine and listen to your body and how it feels in the poses.
Classes run 6 times per week and are suitable for all ages and abilities.
Thank you for reading,