Most of us have experienced lower back pain at some point in our lives.
Lower back pain is one of the most common body ailments, and can significantly affect the quality of our lives.
Lower back pain is especially common for those of us who spend hours each day sitting in an office, as continual sitting can lead to chronic shortening of muscles supporting the spine and pelvis, resulting in tension and pain in the lower back region.
The following are four yoga postures that can help ease lower pain due to chronic shortening of the muscles from continuous sitting. (If you have a serious back injury such as a slipped disc or sciatica please consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any exercises to relieve your condition.)
1. Cat and Cow Pose
This set of 2 poses works on the entire spine from the tail bone to the neck.
It is dynamically done with smooth movements from one to the other. First come down on all fours on the mat, straight arms with wrists below the shoulders at shoulder width distance, and knees below the hips at hip width distance. Keep your feet behind the knees, parallel to each other. As you inhale, sink your belly down and tilt your head up. As you exhale, round your back upwards and tuck your chin to your chest. Keep the arms and legs stationary during the movements. Breathe calmly and feel the gentle stretch and contraction of your neck, back, chest, and abdomen through these 2 movements.
2. Child’s Pose
A simple and effective pose to stretch the lower back. Bring your knees wider than hip distance and the front of your feet on a mat, big toes touching each other. Then sit your buttocks on your feet and stretch your arms forward as you sink your chest between your thighs and your forehead on the mat. If your buttocks cannot rest on your feet and/or your forehead does not touch the mat then use a block or blanket under your forehead and/or between your buttocks and the heels. And if your shoulders are tight that it is uncomfortable to fully stretch the arms forward then bend the elbows or take the arms back (palms facing up) to your feet. Take long deep breaths, and feel a soothing stretch at the lower back region.
3. Reclined Twist Pose
A delicious twist to release the tightness around the back region. Lie on a mat, keep both knees together and raise your knees and feet off the mat.
Keep the knees vertically above your hips and shins parallel to the floor.
Stretch both arms sideways on the mat. Take your right arm on your left knee, and gently pull both knees onto the right side for the right knee to touch the mat. Turn your head to the left. Keep both shoulders on the mat. If the right knee does not touch the mat then put a blanket or block under your knee for support. Feel the twisting effect on stretching the back and core muscles as you breathe calmly. Do the opposite side.
4. Sphinx Pose
This pose helps to lengthen the abdominal muscles so as to alleviate lower back pain. Lie down on your belly, straight legs with your feet at hip distance apart. Set the front of your feet on the mat. Place your elbows on the mat so that they are directly below your shoulders, at shoulder width distance. Align your forearms so that they are pointing forward and parallel to each other, palms facing down. Roll and relax your shoulders down away from your ears, and avoid shrugging the shoulders. Head is facing forward or slightly tilted up. Press your feet and press your pubic bone firmly down. Feel the expansion of your chest moving forward as well as a comfortable stretch of your abdomen. Take long deep breaths in this position.
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