Most of us Westerners sit in a chair for the better part of the day, which is incredibly harmful for our mental and physical wellbeing. The lack of movement and engagement of muscles weakens our back muscles and stiffens our hips and the psoas muscle, which play a big part in back health. Even when walking, many of us find ourselves looking down at our phones. However, an increasing amount of people turn to yoga to find short-term release or to heal our back pain for good, with remarkable success.
Yoga supports the health of your back. If there is no medical cause for back pain, such as a slipped disc or sciatica, pain is usually caused by holding too much tension in the back, wrong posture or weak back muscles.
Here are a few postures that can help you. A demonstration of the poses can be easily found on YouTube. Here are six tips to get started:
1. Yoga Releases Tension
Our neck and shoulders store a lot of tension caused by sitting too long in front of a computer or hunched over our phones. Some gentle yoga exercises like neck and shoulder rotations help release this stiffness. If you’re suffering from pain and pressure in your lumbar spine, Cat-Cow is perfect for you.
2. Yoga Keeps the Spine Supple
Yoga asanas keep the spine flexible, which helps to protect it from injuries and chronic pain. Practice spine movements from all of the following five categories: Flexions (Forward Folds), Extensions (Cobra), Lateral Flexions (Side Bends), Axial Extensions (Downwards Facing Dog) and Axial Rotations (Twists).
3. Yoga Strengthens the Back Muscles
Healthy backs have strong muscles. Most yoga postures strengthen the muscles that support the spine on both sides. They are necessary for good posture. Try Locust Pose or Reverse Warrior (see image).
4. Yoga Strengthens the Core
Our abdominal muscles are connected to the lower back which supports the lumbar spine. A strong core is crucial for lower back health. Integrate Boat Pose in your practice.
5. Yoga Stretches & Strengthens the Psoas
The psoas muscle is part of the hip flexors and is a much discussed muscle in the yoga community, as it plays a big role in back health. Tension and stiffness of the psoas can cause back pain. For a healthy psoas, practice Pigeon, Tree Pose or Crescent Lunge.
6. Relax & Breath
It’s not only the physical yoga postures that help us release and prevent back pain. Relaxation and proper breathing play an equally important role in our physical health. Stress and fear cause us to round the back and shoulders, protecting the heart; it’s a survival instinct.
Taking deep, calm breaths is one of the most important things we can do for our body. Not getting enough oxygen not only decreases our mental state, but also weakens our body.
Regular relaxation or meditation also alleviate pain and heightens our pain thresholds. Furthermore, practicing self-love in yoga teaches us to be compassionate with oneself and accept our body’s limitations, all of which go a long way in improving our physical well-being.