One of the most common ailments we experience, especially as we age, is lower back pain. If your yoga class doesn’t have at least one student with pain in their lower back then you may have stumbled into an alternate reality! There are many causes of back pain – injury, degeneration – even tight hips and glutes can lead to strain in the lower back. The good news is that yoga is one of the best practices to provide relief and healing. Try these poses as a sequence, or sink into your favorite one after a long day.
1 – Yin back release with a yoga blanket
Place a rolled-up yoga blanket widthways along with your mat. Lie down so that the blanket rests on your lower back, just above the tailbone (you’ll find the sweet spot). The thicker you roll the blanket, the stronger this pose will be. Keeping the blanket straight along the lower back (no diagonals) hold this pose for 2-5 minutes with the arms resting by the sides. Then, move the blanket to the upper back, just below the shoulder blades, or gently resting on the shoulder blades (whichever feels most comfortable). Here, you can take the arms up above the head and rest the hands on the floor. Spend another 2-5 minutes in this pose. Finally, move the blanket up a little higher so that the natural curve of the neck is supported. Stay for a minute or two then release.
2 – Bridge pose with a yoga block
With a yoga block handy, lie down on your mat. Bend your knees, bringing the soles of your feet to the floor under the knees, setting up for Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose). Bring the palms of the hands to the floor beside you and gently start to lift your hips. Take the block on its low or middle edge and place it onto the sacrum – the flat area above the tailbone (again, you’ll find the sweet spot!). Now, trust the block to support you as you take your palms to face up. Rest here for 2-5 minutes. When you release, gently windscreen wipe the knees from side to side to release any tension.
3 – Child’s pose with a yoga bolster
Place your bolster lengthways along with the mat. Sitting on your knees with the bolster in front of you, take your knees wide. Straddling the bolster, walk your hands along either side of the bolster as you release into Balasana (Child’s Pose). Hug the bolster and rest one cheek down. Stay for 2-5 minutes then rest the opposite cheek down, staying for an equal amount of time.
4 – Pigeon pose with a yoga bolster and blanket
Take a bolster lengthways onto your mat and have a folded blanket nearby. Come to hands and knees behind your bolster, then take your right knee behind your right wrist for a One-legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana).
Move the right foot as far forward, towards the front of your mat, as comfortable. Lengthen your left leg back behind you. If you experience any knee or hip pain, try letting the right seat come down to the floor and walk the right shin forward until you feel a nice opening through your hips. If there’s no pain, keep the hips square and the lower back flat. If you’d like some support under the right glute then place a folded blanket here. From here, walk your hands forward along either side of the bolster, resting one cheek onto the bolster. Stay for 2-5 minutes then switch sides (remember to rest the opposite cheek down).
5 – Supine twist with a yoga block
Come to lie down on your mat with a yoga block nearby. Bring your knees up into your chest and place a block between the legs. From here, taking the arms wide, let the knees release to the right, resting the legs onto the floor if they reach. Let this pose be restful. Stay for 2-5 minutes then gently move onto the other side.
Words by Jessica Humphries for Yoga King