Back pain is among the most common ailments felt by people today, due largely to our tendency to spend most of our waking hours sitting down and developing incorrect postures.
For most of my adult life, I’ve dealt with various degrees of back pain, from mere discomfort to chronic pain that left me bedridden for long periods on end. The benefits of yoga for my back are life changing to say the least and I fully credit the practice for healing my back. If you, like me, have stubborn back pain, try these 3 poses and practice them regularly. You’ll be amazed by the difference it makes!
Big Toe Pose
One contributing factor to my nagging back pain, believe it or not, is my flexible back. I was a trained rhythmic gymnast during my early schooling years, which resulted in the hyper-mobility of my back. Long after I stopped gymnastics, I could never get into a comfortable sleeping position because of a nagging back pain.
The Big Toe pose (Padanghustasana) offered me much relief as it helped release any pressure placed on the lower back. It helps to lengthen the spine and release any build up of compression in the joints.
To practice this pose, bend forward while keeping the spine long. Take extra care to not concave the body. Instead, lift the lower sternum up. Keep your knees straight. Hold pose for at least 5 breaths.
You might now be thinking that I would be kidding to be recommending a pose traditionally from the backbend group as part of this series of poses to relieve back pain. But this is indeed the case! Though a backbend, the Camel pose (Ustrasana) is a great pose to relieve and prevent back pain problems simply because it teaches you to move in correct alignment.
Backbend poses in yoga are not meant to hurt the back. They are meant to lengthen the spine and increase the back’s mobility without compressing the joints. So, for backbends such as the Camel pose to be effective, the alignment has to be right.
For the Camel pose, be extra careful to not shorten the lower back by moving the tailbone forward toward the pubis. Tilt the pelvis forward to support the movement of the tailbone. If you are familiar with bandhas, now is a good time to activate tha uddiyanna and ha mula bandhas. Caution: If you feel tightness in the lower back, come out of the pose!
Some time in my third trimester of pregnancy, the discomfort on my lower back increased to a point where it became quite unbearable to stand for long periods. At this point, the Big Toe pose felt too difficult with my belly in the way, while the Camel pose felt too heavy to be anywhere near comfortable.
The only other pose aside from Downward Dog that could offer me some relief was the Triangle (Trikonasana). Triangle pose helps you lengthen your spine as well as the sides of your body, releasing any tension in the surrounding joints. It also helps to loosen tight muscles in your back and stretches the shoulders.
In Triangle pose, remember to bend from the hip joint and not the waist (the latter will cause you to arch and hurt your back). Keep awareness on your feet, making sure that you firmly anchor the outer heel of your back leg down. If you are pregnant, keep the distance between your legs shorter and only bend as much as it feels comfortable.
Want to gain a deeper understanding in how correct yoga alignment helps relieves aches in the body? Try a restorative yoga teacher-training course! Book one with us today!