In the United States, lower back pain is one of the most common ailments. How many of us run to our doctors to complain of mild discomfort to severe pain? Pain medication helps, but it doesn't fix the source of the problem.
More often than not, chronic back pain is the result of injury or lifestyle habits. Sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, and lack of exercise all contribute to poor spinal health, which can lead to chronic lower back pain or sciatica over time. Since most of us will experience lower back pain at some point in our lives, it's a good idea to start doing restorative yoga poses to help heal your spine and prevent further damage.
Try this yoga sequence each day to strengthen your back muscles, improve core strength, and relieve pressure in your spine and connective tissue.
1. Child's Pose
Balasana, or the commonly-known child's pose, is one of the best all-around restorative yoga poses. It is often used as a beginning pose or a rest between more challenging poses. Not only will it gently stretch the spine, but it also relieves tension in the neck, shoulders, and hips.
How To Do It: Begin in tabletop position on all fours. Sit back towards your heels and stretch your arms far in front of you. In order to make this position effective, practice deep breathing. If unsure how long each breath should be, use this guide.
2. Cat & Cow Pose
This is my favorite pose for back pain, because you will notice a huge release pressure as you complete a few rounds. It's a great way to decompress the disks in your spine and give your back full range of motion from the low back to the neck.
How To Do It: Start in tabletop with shoulders directly over wrists and hips tracking over knees. Press your shoulders and spine upwards, tucking belly button in and arching your back like a cat. Breathe out. Next, lower belly button towards the floor while lifting head and buttocks. Breath in. Repeat the sequence until your spine feels loose and neutral.
3. Downward-Facing Dog Pose
You're not likely to go to a yoga class that doesn't have this pose included. While downward-facing dog is a back stretch, it primarily stretches connective tissue in the hamstrings and calves, which will lead to better back health.
How To Do It: Once again, begin from tabletop but this time push up into a v-shape with bum in the air, arms outstretched, and heels intending towards the floor. Pedal the feet if the stretch is too intense at first. Always make sure to take a deep breath before exiting this pose, as the blood in your body has begun to pool in your head.
4. Triangle Pose
This pose is excellent for strengthening your back muscles and other crucial support muscles in your low abdominal wall, hips, and IT band. If you can't hold this pose for long, that's okay! Keep practicing and you'll see a difference as you build balance and strength.
How To Do It: You'll need a bit of balance for this one. Place a block in front of you for support and begin in a standing position. Lunge one foot backwards and place the foot at a 45-degree angle. Slowly reach opposite arm towards the block while circling the other arm towards the ceiling. Hold your belly in for a strong core and count to 30 before switching to the other side.
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