Are you ready to try some quick yoga for back pain? Mimi Ko, fitness coordinator at Spa Pechanga in Temecula, California, weighs in on easy yoga poses to help you to have better mornings, give you much needed pain relief while adding some mental clarity to your day. If you're ready to go, grab a mat and let's get started!
Cat-Cow SequenceCat and Cow poses, which are often paired together, are easy yoga poses that can help alleviate your back pain. They form a warm-up sequence that when practiced together, help to stretch your back, and prepare your body for your day's activity.
Benefits of Cat-Cow SequenceCat-Cow flows between two, beginner friendly, yoga poses that bring openness and flexibility to the spine. Along with helping with back pain relief, cat-cow stretches the torso and neck through its breathing sequences also provides stress relief and calms the mind. "This is my go-to pose to warm up because it's a very invasive and soft movement to the spine. It stretches the back muscles and the massage-like movement creates circulation throughout the lower back especially in the cat variation," says Ko.
Ko's Tip: Do cat/cow with your breath (one movement per breath) for roughly 10 cycles of breath to see the maximum benefit.
Spinal TwistThe spinal twist is a quick yoga pose that allows you to engage your core and open up your lower back. As you already know, this area of your back is often overly tight first thing in the morning and can lead to back pain up to your neck and down your legs.
Benefits of Spinal TwistSpinal twist is a yoga pose that can help with upper back pain relief and strengthen upper back muscles. It’s also good for stretching spinal muscles. This gentle movement releases tension in your spinal muscles—ideal for people dealing with back pain all day who work in office environments and need periods of relief throughout the day. "Twisting activates the muscles around the lumbar spine (lower back), helping to strengthen them and increase blood flow, which in turn creates oxygenation to the area. This is a pain-subduing cocktail," says Ko.Ko's Tip: Hold this for 2-3 minutes on each side to get the maximum benefit.
How to Do the Cat-Cow Sequence
Before you begin, Ko offers the following advice, "When doing yoga with low back pain, pay close attention to the instructor's cues. A knowledgeable instructor will guide you into poses safely, cueing movements to engage muscles around the lower back, ultimately taking the pressure off the area," she says. Knowing your limits and performing the poses safely and accurately will ensure successful form and reduced chance of creating additional pain.
The first yoga pose, called the cat-cow pose starts with you getting on your hands and knees.
- Find a comfortable place.
- Spread your hands and knees shoulder width apart. You want to make sure that your wrists are directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath the hips. Feel free to tuck your toes for more support or, if you feel more comfortable, with the tops of them flat on the ground.
- Start the yoga poses by getting into a neutral position keeping your back nice and flat.
- Press up, rounding your back and pressing your arms away from the ground while tucking your head and chin into your chest. You want to form a nice arch, hollowing in your belly.
- Inhale, and then do the pose in the opposite direction dropping the navel to the floor, lifting the tailbone up, and gazing up towards the sky again while pressing your shoulders back down.
- Repeat the yoga poses, inhaling into cow and exhaling into cat.
How to Do the Spinal Twist
The next yoga pose for back pain relief is a spinal twist. You can do this by sitting down in a comfortable position on the ground or in your favorite chair.
- You're going to take your shoulders roll them back and down, staying nice and upright while tightening your core.
- Take one hand bring it to the opposite knee. The back hand is going to go right behind you, or if you're on a chair and you can hold onto the back of the chair. As you exhale you're going to gently twist using your hand to add a little pressure and you're going to look back as far as you can. You want to make sure that you stay nice and tight and upright and you're exhaling with this yoga pose. There should be no sharp pains or pinches. Breathe here for a few deep breaths. Anywhere from five to six deep breaths and then on your last inhale, come back to center.
- Take a nice big deep breath and then exhale twisting the other way. Do five to six deep breaths again before repeating the twists on both sides for a total of three to five times or however many you like.
Done daily, these simple yoga poses can help you to feel back pain relief from the start of your day.
"Back pain is one of the most common injuries people seek yoga for and it's one of the best ways to relieve the pain, as it's natural and healthy for the rest of your body as well," says Ko.
Yoga, like other forms of physical activity, carries the risk of injury. Prior to trying these beginner yoga stretches, understand that it is your responsibility to determine if poses listed within this article meet your level physical ability. Yoga is a form of exercise and is not a substitute for medical attention or treatment. Talk to your health care provider before trying yoga if you have concerns about the effect of yoga on your existing condition.