Sitting at a desk for hours on end can cause low back pain or worsen an existing back problem. Prolonged periods of sitting can weaken the core, overstretch the low back ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures of the spine. Doing yoga is a great way to relieve tension, realign the spine, and strengthen the core.
Here are some of the best yoga poses to achieve a healthy lower back:
Benefits: Whether you are in the beginning, middle, or end of your practice, Child’s pose is a great position to get into to stretch your back out and relieve tension in your spine, shoulders, and neck.
Proper form: Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position. Separate your knees hip-width apart and exhale as you sit your glutes back toward your heels. Fold your torso over your thighs and reach your arms straight out in front of you or resting along the sides of your body. Allow your forehead to rest on the mat as you stay in this de-stressing pose for 10 breaths.
Cat and Cow Pose
Benefits: Cat and Cow pose are a pair of yoga poses that feel great on overworked back muscles. Cycling between Cat and Cow is the perfect way to begin your practice because it warms up your spine and loosens sore muscles.
Proper form: From Child’s pose, come up to tabletop position with a neutral spine. On an inhale, arch your spine drawing your belly to the floor, your head up to the ceiling, and your tailbone up to the ceiling. As you exhale, pull your belly in as you round your back upward, tucking your head and tailbone down and inward. Continue to move through these poses, gracefully transitioning in sync with your breath. Repeat both movements 10 times.
Benefits: Downward Dog is a great way to stretch your whole body and improve your posture. It targets the large muscles that help form your lower back, support your spine, and support your back when lifting heavy objects.
Proper form: Transition from table top into Downward Dog with your hands shoulder-distance apart as you raise your tailbone to the ceiling. Spread your fingers wide and lay your palms flat. Engage your abs with a straight back and legs, lifting your tailbone and pressing your heels down toward your mat, encouraging spinal lengthening. Relax your head and face as you continue to hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
Benefits: This pose is important to practice consistently in order to have a healthy back. If your job entails long hours sitting at a desk, this stretch will help counteract that position. It also stretches and strengthens the front of the hips and chest, which helps to improve posture.
Proper form: Lie face down on your mat with the tops of your feet on the mat, hip-width apart. Place your palms flat on the ground alongside your chest and lift your body off the mat. The only things touching the mat should be the tops of your feet and your whole hands. Make sure that your arms are fully extended with your wrists, elbows and shoulders aligned. Look straight ahead with a neutral neck, breathing deeply. Stray in this position for 5 – 10 breaths.
Benefits: This pose is a great way to loosen hip rotators, flexors, and extensors, which can contribute to lower back pain.
Proper form: Begin in Downward Dog. Draw your right knee in behind your right wrist with your lower leg diagonal towards your left hip. The closer your right root is to the top of your mat, the harder this position will be. Keep your left leg straight with your hips squared towards the ground as you slowly lower your chest down to rest on your right leg. You can rest your forehead on your arms in front of your right knee. Breathe deeply in this position for 2 – 3 minutes, before switching to the other side.
Benefits: Spending a lot of time sitting tends to compress the spine. The Forward Fold is a great way to counteract that compression by creating length and space in the spine. This stretches the hamstrings, back muscles, and tense shoulders.
Proper form: Standing hip-width apart, exhale down and reach for your toes, keeping a micro bend in your knees. Make sure to fold at your hips, not your waist. As you inhale, lift and lengthen your torso; and as you exhale, release further into the bend. Let your head hang lose as you continue breathing for 30 seconds to a minute. Roll up one vertebra at a time to come out of forward fold. You can place your hands on your thighs to support your back.