9 Yoga Poses to relieve and soothe back pain
As any woman knows, back pain is no joke. It can make even the simplest tasks feel impossible, and it can be hard to find relief. For black women, back pain can be especially debilitating. Studies have shown that back pain is more common among black women than in any other group, and it is often chronic and severe. In fact, according to a recent study, nearly 60% of black women experience back pain at some point in their lives. The good news is that yoga can be an excellent way to ease back pain and improve your overall health. Yoga can be an effective way to manage back pain, but many black women feel hesitant to try it. This may be due to a lack of representation in yoga classes or a lack of knowledge about the benefits of yoga for back pain. However, there are many instructional videos and classes specifically for black women that can help them get started. With a little bit of effort, black women can find relief from back pain and improve their quality of life. When we asked certified pilates and yoga coach Rosemarie Mitchell a common myth women believe about yoga she shared "women often feel they need to be very flexible and able to bend themselves into a pretzel in order to do yoga. They disqualify themselves from this multi-purpose mind-body movement because of age, size or agility, and miss out on its stress-relieving benefits. Each yoga pose has modifications, and many of the poses can actually be done in a chair. This makes yoga an excellent choice to help manage stress in the workplace. Yoga is accessible and adaptable, and appropriate for women of all ages, sizes and levels of flexibility."
The benefits of yoga for back pain sufferers
Yoga has many benefits for those suffering from back pain. Yoga helps to strengthen and lengthen the muscles that support the spine, it also helps to take the pressure off of painful joints and disks. In addition, yoga increases flexibility and mobility in the spine, which can help to reduce stiffness and pain. Plus another bonus, yoga helps to improve posture and alignment, which can also prevent or alleviate back pain. So if you're looking for a natural way to relieve your back pain, give yoga a try. First, it's important to find a class that is tailored specifically for beginners. Second, be sure to listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain. And finally, don't be discouraged if you don't see results immediately – the benefits of yoga are cumulative and often take time to be felt. If you prefer not to start your yoga practice at a studio, you can try some yoga poses at home. Below are nine beginner-friendly yoga poses you can try to reduce your back pain:
The Cat-Cow pose is a gentle way to stretch the spine. It helps improve flexibility and mobility in the spine, reducing back pain.
To Do the Cat-Cow Pose:
- Begin on all fours with your hands aligned under your shoulders and your knees aligned under your hips.(Also known as the all-fours position.)
- As you inhale, drop your belly towards the mat and lift your chin and chest, looking up towards the ceiling. This is the Cow pose.
- As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest and round your back towards the ceiling, dropping your belly. This is the Cat pose.
- Continue alternating between the Cow and Cat poses, moving with your breath.
2. Cobra Pose
Cobra pose helps to strengthen the muscles in the lower back and can also help to ease the pain.
To Do the Cobra Pose:
- Lie on your stomach and extend your legs behind you. Next, align your hands underneath your shoulders.
- Slowly lift your head and chest off the ground as you inhale, keeping your hips planted on the mat firmly.
- Hold the Cobra pose for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
3. Downward-Facing Dog Pose
The Downward-Facing Dog pose is a popular yoga pose that can help ease back pain. It also promotes flexibility in the spine.
To Do the downward-facing dog pose:
- Start in the all-fours position with your hands aligned under your shoulders and your knees aligned under your hips.
- As you exhale, tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back, coming into an upside-down “V” shape.
- Keep your arms straight and press firmly into your hands as you lengthen your spine.
- Hold the Downward-Facing Dog pose for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
4. Sphinx Pose
The sphinx pose can relieve sciatica pain caused by a herniated disc. It also puts your lower back muscles in a more relaxed position. When in this pose, be sure to be gentle and remember to listen to your body.
To Do the sphinx pose:
- With your legs straight, lie flat on your stomach. Hold your forearms close to your sides with your elbows on the ground beside you.
- Lift your chest off the ground by pushing your arms up and tightening your legs. Forearms and palms should remain on the ground.
- Keep your hips, legs, and feet in contact with the ground. Also, align your elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
- Hold the sphinx pose for 3-5 breaths.
5. Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is a gentle backbend that stretches the spine, hips, and hamstrings. If you’re having difficulty maintaining this pose, you can modify it using a yoga block or a strap.
To Do the Bridge Pose:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your feet flat on the ground.
- As you inhale, slowly lift your hips off of the ground, keeping your shoulders and head on the mat.
- Hold the Bridge pose for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
6. Locust Pose
The Locust pose is a gentle backbend that helps with lower back pain. Muscles in the upper thighs, buttocks, and lower back strengthen during the pose. It also extends the spine proving flexibility in the joints.
To Do the Locust Pose:
- Lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and your hands by your sides.
- As you inhale, slowly lift your head, chest, and legs off of the ground. Your arms should also extend behind you.
- Hold the Locust pose for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
7. Two Knee Spinal Twists
The two-knee spinal twist not only helps with back pain, but also stretches the chest muscles and improves digestion. During the pose, if you have discomfort in the back area, try placing a large pillow between your legs.
To Do the Two-Knee Spinal Twist:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
- As you inhale, slowly lift your knees to your chest.
- As you exhale, twist your knees to one side, letting them fall over to the other side of your body.
- Hold the two-knee spinal twist for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
8. Seated Twist Pose
A twisting yoga pose helps tone the belly, relieving back pain. The seated twist pose encourages spinal mobility and helps improve digestion. It's often performed at the end of a sequence. Also, the pose is suitable for people who have difficulty twisting while lying on their back.
To Do the Seated Twist Pose:
- Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you and your feet together.
- As you inhale, lift your right leg and place your right foot on the ground next to your left thigh.
- As you exhale, twist your torso to the right, placing your left hand on the ground behind you and your right hand on your right knee.
- Hold the seated twist pose for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
More Advanced Yoga Poses for Those Looking for a Challenge:
Surprise, here are more yoga poses you can do if you’re up for a challenge. But, remember to listen to your body and be careful if you feel pain.
King Pigeon Pose
King Pigeon pose helps open hip flexors for greater flexibility and mobility. Sitting for long periods of time causes tight hips to be the culprit of low back pain. But, stretching these muscles can offer relief to mild back pain.
The pose is generally safe, but you increase your risk of injury if you go beyond your body’s abilities. Also, those who suffer from chronic pain or are pregnant should avoid doing the Pigeon Pose.
To Do the King Pigeon Pose:
- Begin in a downward-facing dog position.
- As you inhale, lift your right leg up and back, bringing your right foot to meet your left hand.
- Once you’ve found your balance, lower your right knee to the ground and slide your right leg forward so that your right shin is parallel to the front of your mat. Your left leg should be extended straight behind you.
- If you want a deeper stretch, you can lower your torso down onto your right thigh.
- To come out of the King Pigeon pose, lift your torso back up and return to the downward-facing dog position.
The wheel pose is an advanced version of the bridge pose. It is a fun and empowering yoga pose, but be extra careful! One wrong move, you can seriously hurt yourself.
If you’re willing to try it, start warming up your body with a few bridge poses and then rest. After resting, place your hands behind your head. Practice lifting your head and shoulders off the ground. Do this a few times and rest again. Once comfortable, you can try doing a full Wheel pose.
To Do the Wheel Pose:
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
- As you inhale, place your hands on the ground next to your ears and press your palms into the ground as you lift your head, shoulders, and feet off of the ground.
- Once you’ve found your balance, slowly straighten your arms and legs.
- If you want a deeper stretch, you can walk your hands closer to your feet.
- To come out of the Wheel pose, slowly lower your back down to the ground and return to the starting position.
Advanced Bow Pose
The Advanced Bow pose stretches the shoulders, chest, and neck. This advanced yoga pose reduces slouching and relaxes tight muscles while improving posture.
It strengthens the spine’s extensors and the hamstrings, reducing low back pain. Also, if you have trouble bending backward, this pose will help.
To Do the Advanced Bow Pose:
- Begin by lying on your stomach with your legs extended behind you and your arms by your sides.
- As you inhale, lift your head, chest, and legs off the ground.
- Bend your knees and reach back with your hands to grab your ankles.
- As you exhale, press your feet into your hands as you lift your head, chest, and legs higher off the ground.
- Hold the Advanced Bow pose for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
The Camel pose is great for anyone who needs to strengthen their lower back muscles after having invasive spinal surgery. The pose emphasizes the lower back's natural curve. It also stretches the chest, abdomen, and quadriceps muscles.
To Do the Camel Pose:
- Begin by kneeling on the ground with your legs hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
- As you inhale, lift your chest and press your hips forward.
- During your exhale, reach back with your hands and grab hold of your ankles.
- As you inhale, lift your head and chest up off the ground and press your hips forward.
- Hold the Camel pose for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
Thunderbolt is a seated pose that provides a deep sense of calm throughout the body. It is an excellent pose to help improve body posture, ease low back pain, and tone the glutes and pelvis muscles. Many people perform the pose during a meditation practice.
To Do the Thunderbolt Pose:
- Begin by sitting on the ground with your legs and feet extended in front of you.
- As you inhale, lift your right leg up and back, bringing your right foot to meet your left hand.
- While exhaling, press your right hand into the ground and lift your hips into the air.
- Lift your left leg up and back, bringing your left foot to meet your right hand.
- Hold the Thunderbolt pose for a few breaths, then return to the starting position.
These Are Not the Only Yoga Poses for Back Pain
There are many other yoga poses that can help to ease back pain. So, don't think you're limited to only doing these.
Remember: If you are experiencing back pain, talk to your doctor or a certified yoga instructor to see if yoga may be right for you.