Back pain is reported to be one of the leading causes of pain in the world, according to the World Health Organisation, and yoga could be the answer. Yoga is known for its ability to strengthen and stretch these muscles, and more people are discovering the benefits of yoga to manage lower-back pain.
It’s a good first step to speak to your doctor if you are suffering from any sort of pain before you start yoga. If you’re all set, try these five yoga poses to help strengthen the muscles in your lower back.
Standing Forward Bend
Uttansana, otherwise known as the standing forward bend, is useful for hip and back strengthening. Holding the pose not only strengthens connective muscle and tissue but offers a soothing, long, backstretch. This pose is also useful for the relief of fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
How To Perform: Begin by standing straight with hands at your hips. Slowly bend at the hips, lowering your torso forward and down. As you lower your head toward the ground, let out an exhale.
Try to keep your knees straight and place your fingertips on the floor beside your feet if possible. With hips aligned over your ankles, slightly extend your back on each exhale while holding the pose.
Supine Cow Face Pose
The Supine Cow Face Pose (Supta Gomukhasana), is a helpful pose for a sore and achy back. The controlled hip and leg opening pose helps to relax and loosen muscles around the buttocks, hips, and back. Holding this position for longer can also strengthen the spine and abdominal area.
How To Perform: Lay down on your back, and bring your knees up above your waist. Cross one leg over the other, and place each hand on the shin of the opposite leg. Gently pull your legs toward yourself until you feel a nice stretch. Keep your spine and neck lengthened and flat to the floor throughout.
The Anjaneyasana pose or low lunge works well in strengthening and stretching your whole back. As the hips and thighs are important in providing stability to the back, it’s good to build strength and support in these parts.
How To Perform: Start in downward-facing dog and bring your left foot up to the outside of your left hand, forming a right angle with your knee. Gently lower your right leg to the floor, and press the top of your right foot to the floor.
Pull your right knee back until you feel a stretch, then inhale and lift your torso to an upright position. During this, bring your arms up and perpendicular to the floor. Finally, look straight up to the ceiling, bring your hands straight above your head, and hold. Switch legs afterward and repeat.
Eye Of The Needle Pose
The official name for the eye of the needle pose is Sucirandhrasana. Similar to the Supine cow face pose, it’s a lying down pose that helps relieve tension in both the lower back and hip area. This is an especially useful pose for those who experience tightness from sitting at their desks all day.
How To Perform: Begin on your back and bring your knees up past your hips. Cross your left ankle so that it hovers above the top of your right knee. Then, grasp both hands together behind the thigh of your right leg. On an exhale, use your hands to gently pull your right leg towards your chest.
This motion should also be pushing your left leg toward your chest as well. Extend your spine, tuck in your chin to your chest, and hold. Then switch legs and repeat.
Reclining Hand To Big Toe Pose
Supta Padangusthasana is a restorative yoga pose widely recognised as the reclining hand to big toe pose. It is a gentle, controlled and strengthening position that helps to strengthen connective muscles from the hips and lower back regions. You can increase the difficulty at your own pace to deepen the benefits to your lower back.
How To Perform: Lie flat on your back and lift your left knee up to your chest. Wrap a strap or towel under the arch of your left foot, and grip the ends of the strap or towel with each hand. Raise your leg toward the ceiling while keeping the strap held tautly. Hold and repeat with the opposite leg.
Related Methods To Relieve Lower-Back Pain
Myofascial Release: It’s been shown to significantly reduce chronic back pain. Areas targeted for myofascial release should include not just the lower-back, but also the glutes, hip flexors, and hamstrings.
To do it, place the targeted muscle group on a foam roller or hardball, and gently roll back and forth. Any tightened muscle knots will eventually loosen up over time.
Posture: Fixing your posture can go a long way toward relieving day-to-day lower-back pain. This applies for when you’re at rest as well as during activity.
When sitting at a desk or in a chair, you should sit up straight with shoulders pulled back, and ears aligned evenly with your shoulders. When lifting, whether casual or weightlifting, you should focus on keeping a neutral spine alignment further inflammation of the back muscles.
About the author
Lana Anderson is the head instructor of Yoga By Blisstopia in Blaine MN. She’s been teaching yoga for over 20 years and is certified through The Yoga Institute. She has a Master’s degree in Counseling and Psychological Services and is a certified Healing Touch Practitioner through Healing Touch International. Lana is also a certified doula through Doulas of North America (DONA), and has helped deliver over 400 babies.