lower back painBy Kimaya Singh

What to do about lower back pain? Should you call your doctor? If your pain is chronic, you should contact your doctor first. Your doctor may recommend gentle Yoga classes for you. Can your local yoga instructor help you with solutions for backaches?  Back pain causes many people to suffer greatly, day after day. Although there are many causes of lower back aches, the result is often the same: pain, tenderness and irritability. When your back is sore, the pain often can’t be ignored. Many people spend thousands of dollars annually on painkillers to ease their discomfort. Yoga provides an easier and much cheaper way to reduce the pain. If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, try yoga to strengthen and lengthen all of the body’s muscles. The results may surprise you.


A complete yoga practice involves breathing deeply, stretching all of the body’s muscles and relaxing the mind. When you suffer from chronic pain, it’s easy to let the pain take over. Yoga helps you release the pain from your mind as well as your body. Try sitting in a comfortable position and taking several deep breaths through the nose. Draw the air into your abdomen and allow it to fill your entire chest cavity as well. Breathe the air out while thinking positive thoughts, such as, “I have a strong, healthy back,” or, “My breath will ease my pain.” For maximum benefits, incorporate the breathing and mantras with a series of asanas. Below are postures to reduce discomfort in your lower back.


Downward Dog

This simple yoga pose will stretch all of the muscles in the back of the legs, allowing the lower back muscles to relax and release. Begin on all fours, placing your hands below the shoulders and then moving them forward several inches. Come up off of your knees, pushing your bottom up and back with the arms. Rest in this position with your feet flat on the floor about hip width apart. You can raise your heels up if there is discomfort in the legs. Push your hands into the yoga mat to provide stability. Hold for several deep breaths.


Modified Downward Dog with a Chair

It’s important to understand all Yoga teachers are not equal. Some have more experience and knowledge than others. Some teachers know how, when, and why to use props. Not every student will be able to practice Downward Dog with a mat. Using a chair or wall is another solution. Some students may only be able to reach the top of the chair or straight out to a wall. With a chair, you can use the back or front to reach out at different angles. The Modified Downward Dog with a Chair has so many options that chairs should be in every studio. This method decompresses the spine, helps students with muscle aches in the back, and relieves some discomfort for students suffering with frozen shoulder. Is it a cure? No, I can’t promise any cures, but I can say it relieves pain with steady and gentle practice, it feels great, there should be no force.


Modified or Baby Cobra

All forms of Cobra Pose are backbends. That said, a standing or seated backbend is a litmus test for pain. So, you could sit in a chair and try a mild backbend with no force, while keeping it gentle. In other words, backbends might help or they might just cause more pain. This is why we’re starting with a mild form of Cobra Pose first.  You can adjust your spine to any upward angle you like.  You could also practice modified Cobra, while standing and place your hands on all wall. It’s not a contest, but it is a mild introduction to gentle Cobra variations.



Cobra pose might help relieve lower back pain by improving posture, while opening the chest and abdomen. Lie flat on your stomach, placing your hands palm down next to your armpits. Tuck your elbows in so they point behind you. Keep the legs together, pressing the thighs and tops of the feet into the floor. Using your back muscles, slowly push up with your arms as gentle leverage, raising the chest off the floor. Keep the hips planted on the mat. Keep the shoulders down and elbows slightly bent. Lift and open the chest while gently pointing your chin upward. Bring your elbows down to a lower angle if this pose causes you any pain. Don’t forget to breathe.


Notes for Yoga Instructors and Students

There are many other asanas to choose from and the above-mentioned postures may not help everyone.  Among the postures, you would learn at Aura Wellness Center are Triangle, Revolved Triangle, Half Downward Dog, Half Chair Pose, and Half Moon.  If you are a Yoga instructor, you need to modify these asanas for some of your students.  The reason being: Students who come into your classes for therapeutic needs are less likely to be flexible.  If you are a student, you need to find a competent yoga teacher who has the compassion and knowledge to make modifications and physical adjustments.


© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.


Yoga for a Healthy Lower Back: A Practical Guide to Developing Strength and Relieving Pain


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by Rina Jakubowicz.


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by: Gail Boorstein Grossman.


by B.K.S. Iyengar

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