Exercise can seem like torture to a sufferer of back pain, but the facts are in. Yoga helps to stretch those tired muscles, and breathe new life into your back.
Having back pain can sometimes render us useless. It’s a condition that’s hard to ignore, as more than 80% of the population will have back pain at some point in their life. For many of these people, it’s a chronic condition that is inescapable. While there are many treatments available for certain types of back pain, many of them are invasive, addictive, or downright expensive. Doctors around the globe agree that frequent exercise can help to alleviate back pain, and ease the recovery process. Many sufferers fear that exercise will make things worse, but the facts are quite the contrary. Regular exercise, like Yoga, can help to loosen stiff muscles, increase oxygen flow, and release stress from those aching bones. It can also help to align the spine, improve posture and balance, and increase overall strength. The mental benefits are endless, and it can aide in weight loss as well. If you are suffering from back pain, Yoga may help you. Try on a few of these positions a few times a week, and see how you feel in a month. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and place your hands on the ground. Lift your heels off the ground, creating a square angle between your feet and legs. Your body should be in the shape of a V. Keep your back and legs straight (for beginners, your knees bent a little is okay). Push your toes into the floor, and elongate your back and neck (rather than try to hold them up awkwardly). Breathe deeply and elongate your back, neck, and legs as you relax. Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths, or longer if you are comfortable enough.
Lie face-down, forehead resting on floor. Place hands on either side, at middle of ribcage. Draw legs together, pressing tops of feet into floor. Reach back through toes, lengthening legs, and press evenly through hands as you draw elbows close to ribcage. Using strength of back (not arms), lift head and chest, sliding shoulder blades down back. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths before gently releasing to floor, turning head to one side.
Child’s Pose is best done after the Cobra pose, as you are already close in formation. Kneel on the floor with your knees together. Exhale and lean forward into your thighs, placing your arms out in front of you. Reach forward with your back, and elongate your spine. Let your forehead rest on the floor if you can, otherwise rest your head on a yoga block to allow for full relaxation. Hold this pose for a minimum of one minute. Another variation is to move your arms behind you, palms face up, with your hands near your feet. Tuck tightly but comfortably, and allow your back to curve slightly and naturally. Hold for a minimum of one minute.
Stand straight. Spread your feet out, wider than your shoulders, maybe 3 ½ feet apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and left foot in by 15 degrees. Now align your center of right heel with the center of the arch of your left foot. Ensure that your feet are flat on the ground and the weight of your body is equally balanced on both the feet. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, bend your body to the right, downward from the hips, keeping the waist straight, allowing your left hand to come up in the air while your right hand comes down towards floor. Keep both arms in straight line. Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the waist. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at the left palm. Be sure that your body is bent sideways and not backward or forward. Your pelvis and chest should be wide open. Stretch maximum and be steady. Keep taking in long deep breaths. With each exhale, relax the body more and more. As you inhale, come up, bring your arms down to your sides, and straighten your feet. Repeat the same on the other side.
Two Knee Spinal Twist
Lay flat on the floor on your back. Breathe deep and exhale, and bring your knees up to your chest. Hold for 30 seconds. Lay your hands flat on the floor and slowly pivot both knees to the right, while keeping your heels off the floor. Slowly turn your head to the left, making sure your shoulders are flush with the floor. Relax and hold for 30 seconds, then repeat for the left.
From all-fours, bring your right knee behind your right wrist with your lower leg at a diagonal toward your left hip. Square off your hips toward the ground. Bend forward. Widen the elbows and place one hand on top of the other as a pillow for your forehead. Hold 2-3 minutes and then switch to the left side for 2-3 minutes.
Come to a standing position with your feet side by side and touching each other and your arms by your sides. Inhale, and as you exhale bend your knees, as if you’re going to sit back into a chair. Now, raise your arms straight out in front of you until your arms are parallel to the floor. Hold for 10 full deep breaths. If you think that you can go a little bit deeper, you can bend your knees more. You want to try to keep your knees from extending past your toes “ think about sitting in a chair and let your bottom release back as you squat more. Once you hit your edge, hold and breathe, then straighten your legs and release your arms to come out of the posture.