People practice yoga for so many reasons such as stress relief, improved balance and flexibility, enhanced focus and concentration, and so much more. Today on the blog we’re back with yoga expert Dina Ivas to discuss some of the best poses for better posture and to help keep back pain at bay.
Working a sedentary job without standing up and moving the body around at regular intervals is one of the leading causes of lumbar (lower back) discomfort however, there are other, less obvious culprits such as wearing improper footwear, hip and hamstring tightness, and abdominal weakness. “Yoga works magic to help soothe and strengthen our spines,” Ivas attests, “Below are my 5 favorite poses for a healthy, happy back. You can perform them separately or linked together in the order presented.”
This restful posture elongates the entire spine and helps relieve head-to-toe stress after a long, hard day. Start on all fours with your arms stretched out straight in front of you in a wide V shape, palms face down. Sit your hips back towards your heels, big toes touching, knees as wide or as close together as feels best for your back. If your forehead does not reach the mat, or your hips do not reach your heels, plug up those spaces with a blanket to support your body. Stay for at least 10 deep breaths.
Downward Facing Dog:
This quintessential yoga pose is excellent for stretching the hamstrings. Come onto all fours. Create a stable base with your hands by spreading your fingers wide and positioning your shoulders over your wrists. Tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back. Softly bend your knees and press your rib cage towards your thighs to lengthen the spine and limber up the hamstrings. It may also feel good to slowly peddle the heels, pressing the right heel towards the floor while bending the left knee, then alternating side to side several times.
This pose is excellent for strengthening and toning the entire body, specifically the core muscles which are integral for healthy posture and spinal stability. From Downward Facing Dog, roll forward until your shoulders stack over your wrists. Keep your abdominals wrapping in and up, glutes and thighs engaged and drive heels back as if you were pressing them into an imaginary wall. Make sure to keep your cervical spine (neck) elongated rather than letting your head droop to avoid causing neck pain. Hold for about 1 minute. If this pose bothers your wrists, lower down onto your forearms, being mindful to keep your shoulders stacked over your elbows.
This is my favorite pose to ease lower back pain because it stretches the hip flexors, which when tight can aggravate the lumbar spine. From Downward Facing Dog, bring your feet together and draw your right shin towards the top of your yoga mat, being careful to land your right knee outside of your right wrist (rather than inside to keep hips from twisting), and your right foot somewhere behind your left wrist, making sure to maintain ankle dorsiflexion the entire time you are in this shape to protect your knee. Note: Your right shin does not have to be parallel to the top of your mat…in fact, it’s my recommendation that you keep your shin at about a 45 degree angle. Rest your back leg long behind you, toes untucked. If your right glute is far from the floor, plug up that space with a yoga block, blanket, pillow…whatever you have handy…so the muscles can give in to the stretch rather than bracing and fighting it. If you choose to keep your torso upright, make sure your abdominals are engaged to protect your back, otherwise fold forward, supporting your head either on the floor, on your crossed arms, or a yoga/blanket/pillow to keep the neck from tensing up. Stay for at least 3-5 minutes, breathing deep belly breaths, then switch sides. If this pose causes knee or hip pain, practice the modified version, laying on your back with the right ankle dorsiflexed and crossed over the left thigh. Thread your left hand through your legs, grabbing hold of the right hamstring, and reach your right hand around the right thigh from the outside, grasping the right hamstring as well. For a deeper stretch, grasp your right shin with both hands instead of your hamstring.
This gentle, supported twist is excellent for relieving spinal tension because it helps decompress the vertebrae without force. (Bonus…it’s also great for easing digestion!) To perform this pose, lay on your back with your arms in a T shape, palms facing up to soften the shoulders and pectoral muscles. Bend your knees and step your feet on the floor, then scotch your hips a bit to the left before softly dropping your knees to the right. If your knees do not make contact with the ground, and/or each other, place a pillow between and/or beneath them for support. Your head can remain neutral in the center, or if it feels good for your neck, turn your head gently in the opposite direction of your knees, which may help ease neck pain. Stay for at least 3-5 minutes, breathing deep belly breaths, then switch sides.
These are just a few examples of stretches that can help alleviate back pain. Don’t forget that, for some people, CBD can also be a good way to relax, improve sleep, or enhance a stretching routine. Learn more about CBD products by browsing the Asé Pure Naturals shop today.