Yoga for back pain and low impact exercises

Posted on 22/09/2023

Wellbeing, Health

It’s important to start this with the note that if you are experiencing any sort of chronic or ongoing back pain you should consult your doctor and approach any exercise with gentleness and mindfulness. But if you are looking for movement and wondering, ‘Can Yoga help with back pain?’ the answer is yes, there are some elements of yoga which can be an effective way to alleviate the symptoms of back pain and prevent against it by improving flexibility, strength, and posture.

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In this blog we look at some of the yoga postures (asanas) which could help relieve your discomfort and recommend some low impact exercises which will help get you started on the mat if you suffer from painful joints.

Yoga poses for upper back pain

  • Child's Pose (Balasana): This gentle resting pose stretches the lower back, hips, and thighs, providing relief to the back muscles.
  • Cat-Cow Stretch (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana): This dynamic sequence involves arching and rounding the back to mobilize and warm up the spine, which can reduce stiffness and improve flexibility.
  • Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): This pose helps lengthen and decompress the spine while also stretching the hamstrings and shoulders.
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): This subtle backbend, not to be confused with the upward facing dog which may put pressure on the back, gently strengthens the spine and may alleviate pain caused by tightness in the front of the body.
  • Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana): This pose stretches the spine and shoulders and can help release tension in the upper back.

Yoga poses for lower back pain

  • Sphinx Pose (Ardha Bhujangasana): This gentle backbend can be therapeutic for the lower back and may also help improve posture.
  • Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana): This hip-opening pose can relieve tension in the hips and lower back, which is particularly helpful for individuals with tight hip flexors.
  • Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana): This twist can provide relief to the lower back and may also help with digestion.
  • Extended Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana): This classic standing posture may help alleviate backache, sciatica, and neck pain. It stretches your spine, hips, and groin, and strengthens your shoulders, chest, and legs.

Yoga poses without kneeling and without using the wrists 

  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana): A simple but effective pose when you use while engaging your core, lengthening your spine, and relaxing your shoulders. It's a foundational pose that improves posture and promotes body awareness.
  • Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II): This standing posture strengthens the legs, opens the hips and chest. Warrior II develops concentration, balance and groundedness. This pose improves circulation and respiration and energizes the entire body.
  • Tree Pose (Vrikshasana): Remember not to place the foot on the knee joint for this, either go above and rest the foot on the inner thigh or below, resting on the inner calf. This pose promotes good balance and strength in the legs and increases focus.
  • Forward Fold (Uttanasana): As well as lengthening the spine and stretching the back of the legs, the forward fold can help boost metabolism by massaging the internal organs. It’s also a wonderful pose for releasing tension in the back and neck.

If you're a beginner or have reoccurring back issues, it's a good idea to practice yoga under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor like the wonderful ones we have at Grace & Gravity, who will always offer modifications and are focused on good technique to avoid any further strain or injury. If you are unsure, talk to us and we can help recommend classes that will suit you.

Consistency is key, so try to incorporate these poses into your regular yoga practice for long-term benefits.

Check out this video where our co-founder Yasmin, offers a 30-minute wall yoga sequence that will give your spine some love!