Soon after we published “9 Yoga Stretches to Help Relieve Hip and Lower Back Pain,” the comments started rolling in. Or perhaps “flooding in” is more like it. Either way, the message was clear: People wanted more poses for easing back aches, moving with greater ease and fluidity, and enhancing total body mobility and power. If you were one of those people, this article is for you.
If you haven’t read that first piece (and we highly recommend you do, as you can never have too many weapons in the fight against back pain), this article is still for you. Indeed, it’s for anyone who has ever felt a twinge of back pain, grimaced from tight hips, or simply needed to hit their body’s refresh button after a long day.
Run through any or all of these moves whenever you feel stiff, achy, or mentally or physically spent. As with any exercise, go deeper into the move if it feels good, but back off if you feel even a hint of pain or acute discomfort. Treat your body well, and it will do the same to you.
Seated Forward Fold Pose – Paschimottanasana
Tight hamstrings are a common cause of lower back pain, and if you have a desk job, you’re at risk for both. Perform the seated forward fold paschimottanasana several times a day to stretch your shoulders, hamstrings, and spine. Sit on your mat with your legs straight, your feet together and flexed, your torso erect (but not arched), and your chin lifted like you’re proud to be performing this pose (which you should be!). Take a deep breath in, straightening up as much as you can, and then fold forward, walking your hands down the sides of your legs as you lower your torso as far as you can. Hold the pose for eight to 10 breaths, and then slowly reverse the movement to raise your torso back up.
Head To Knee Forward Bend Pose – Janu Sirsasana
This pose is similar to seated forward fold, and provides the same benefits. It also stretches your groin. Assume the same starting position as the forward fold, but slide the sole of your left foot against your right inner thigh. Keeping your right foot flexed, lower your left knee as far as you can into a half-butterfly position. Walk your hands down the sides of your right leg as you fold forward as far as you can with your torso. Hold for eight to 10 breaths, and then slowly rise back up. Switch legs and repeat.
Seated Wide Leg Forward Bend Pose – Upavistha Konasana
This pose targets your spine, groin, and the backs and insides of your legs. Sit tall with your feet flexed, and your legs straight and spread as wide as possible. Place your palms on the floor in front of you, pressing them into it as you straighten and stretch your spine. Keeping your torso erect, inhale deeply, and then exhale completely, walking your hands forward as you lower your torso as far as you can towards the floor. Stop when you feel a deep stretch in the areas mentioned above. Hold for eight to 10 breaths, and then slowly raise your torso back up.
Cat/Cow Pose – Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) and Bitilasana (Cow Pose)
Transitioning between these two poses will stretch your entire back, as well as your hips, core, chest, and neck. Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly above your hands and your hips directly above your knees. Spread your fingers and press your palms into the floor. As you breathe in, arch your back, lift your tailbone and head, and look toward the ceiling or sky. As you exhale, round your back and tuck your tailbone, tucking your chin against your chest as you shift your gaze to between your knees. Oscillate between these two poses for 10 to 15 breaths.
Reclined Spinal Twist Pose – Supta Matsyendrasana
This pose is one of the most comfy ones for the lower back and hips. It will also stretch your neck, shoulders, and chest. Lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Breathe in deeply, and then exhale completely, lowering both legs to the floor on your left (keep your knees higher than your hips). Position your arms out to your sides, or place your left forearm on your right thigh (as pictured) to encourage a deep stretch, relaxing both shoulders to the floor. Shift your gaze over your right shoulder. Close your eyes, take 10 deep breaths, and then release. Repeat to your other side.
Downward Facing Dog Pose – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward facing dog can help stretch and strengthen your feet, calves, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders, neck, and hands. Begin on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly above your wrists and your hips directly above your knees. Spread your fingers wide and press your palms into the floor. Now lift your hips and push back with your hands to form an upside down V with your body. Work your heels toward the floor, and let your head hang to relieve any tension you’re holding in your neck. Take eight to 10 breaths, and then release.
Child’s Pose – Balasana
This restorative pose will stretch your shins, knees, hips, spine, and arms. Start with your hands and knees on the mat. Point your toes behind you, allowing your big toes to touch, and spread your knees slightly wider than your hips. Keeping your back flat, sit back on your heels and lower your torso between the legs as you reach as far forward as you can with your arms. Keep your elbows elevated, and rest your forehead on your mat if you can. Take 10 to 15 breaths, and then release.
Eye of The Needle Pose – Sucirandhrasana
An ideal pose for stretching out your hips, lower back, glutes, hips, and knees, it also can help to relieve sciatica. Start on your back with your knees bent, and your feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor. Raise your right foot and rest it on top of your left thigh above your knee. Thread your right hand between your legs and grip the back of your left thigh, bringing your left hand to meet it. Pull both legs toward your chest as far as you can. Take eight to 10 breaths, and then release. Switch legs, and repeat.