Yoga poses for a happier back

Ease aches in your lower back with this selection of relaxed yoga poses.

The past year has taken a toll on our physical bodies. More time spent indoors and working from home on perhaps less-than-ergonomic seating has meant many of us have noted more aches and pains than usual – especially in our backs.

While a well-rounded approach to your wellbeing and a strong core is needed to maintain the health and strength of your back, there are a few yoga poses we can do that may help to relieve pressure in this area.

Remember, this sequence is only a guide. If something doesn’t feel right or causes you pain, come out of the pose.

Yoga poses for a happier back

Begin in child’s pose

Child’s pose is often recommended as a restful pose in between busy flows, but it’s an incredibly useful yoga pose to centre and focus the breath, while bringing relief to the back. There are a couple of ways we can modify this pose to make it more comfortable too. Having support underneath your forehead will help to relieve pressure in your lower back. If your forehead doesn’t reach the floor, rest your head on a block to bring the ground up to you. It can also feel especially comfortable to use a bolster underneath your belly for extra support.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees and bring your big toes to touch behind you.
  2. Keeping your knees wide (almost as wide as your mat), lower your bottom down to your heels.
  3. Stretch your arms out long in front of you (keep them by your sides if it feels better for your shoulders) and rest your forehead down towards your block or, if comfortable, the floor.
  4. Breathe here for three to five breaths, feeling your inhale expand your belly.
  5. To come out of the pose, slowly walk your hands back underneath your shoulders, pushing yourself up. Your head is the last to rise.

Build up to bridge pose

Bridge pose is a slight back bend that helps to stretch the chest and spine. It also works to strengthen the thighs and bottom. You may notice that it helps to relieve some back pain. There are two options for your arms with this pose. Either keep them down by your sides to push into the ground, or bring your hands into a clasp underneath you for a deeper shoulder stretch.

  1. Lie on your back and bend your knees, drawing your feet in towards your bottom. Lay your hands down by your sides.
  2. As you inhale, press down into your feet and peel your spine off the mat one vertebrae at a time. Lift your hips and bottom up to the sky. Keep your knees in line with your ankles.
  3. Hold the pose at the top for two to four breaths.
  4. On an exhale, gently lower your spine down to the mat once more, one vertebrae at a time.

Stretch your hips in happy baby

Happy baby is not only a great stretch for the hips, but it’s also guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Add this pose towards the end of a routine to bring space into the lower back. You can always vary this pose by gently hugging the knees in towards the chest instead.

  1. Lying on the ground, gently hug your knees in towards your chest, one at a time.
  2. Take your knees slightly wider than your torso, taking hold of either the outside of the shins, or the outside of the feet.
  3. Keeping a bend in the knees, begin to lift your feet up towards the sky, keeping the feet active (flexing your toes towards your nose).
  4. Draw your knees down towards your armpits, stretching into the hips and keeping your lower back on the floor.
  5. Breathe here for a few moments, rocking from side to side if you’d like
  6. To come out of the pose, slowly hug your knees into your chest, before placing your feet back onto the ground. Roll onto one side and gently push yourself back into a seated position.

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