14 Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain According to Experts (And Yogis!)

Geoffrey Lions
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Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

This easy pose stretches the hamstrings, spine, wrists, shoulders, and gums. Downward Facing Dog may seem like a strange exercise to do if you have back pain, but it’s provide one of the best stretches for back pain.

Stand post to get the most benefit from the pose. You can modify this pose by kneeling on a mat to cushion your knees, and putting your feet closer to your hands to reduce stress on your shoulders and wrists.

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

The Upward Facing Dog is a great yoga pose for your back. Start to get into a downward facing dog, then lift your hips up and back until they are in line with your shoulders. It’s the spine-stretching move that’s a staple in any yoga class.

If you have a bad back, the Upward Facing Dog pose helps stretch out tight muscles. It’s a good idea to do this yoga pose both in the morning and the evening.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

(Also known as the camel pose, ustrasana originated in ancient India as part of the yogic sun salutation. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit word “ustrai” meaning camel.

The camel pose is a very strong back-bending asana and is the seventh and the last asana in the sun salutation sequence. It is also a very significant asana for gaining knowledge of the inner self.

Many people have difficulty performing this asana since it requires a great deal of flexibility in the spine. It is an excellent pose for strengthening the back muscles as well as the arms and legs.

The camel pose is best performed at the end of a gentle, cleansing practice of yoga. It provides a complete massage to the spine and back muscles, allowing the practitioner to gain a sense of strength and unity.

The pose is also helpful in the treatment of chronic backache disorders, backache resulting from slips and falls, pregnancy-related backache and insomnia.

Camel pose can be practised by people with an existing back problem, but it is essential that it is performed under expert guidance and only after a thorough medical examination.

Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) – Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

These gentle backbends are excellent for tween and teens who are looking to melt away stress and ease sore backs. The Cat/Cow pose and its counterpart the Cat/Cow pose help to loosen up neck and back muscles. It also helps to improve spinal mobility and flexibility in the upper back.

Cat/Cow Pose can be performed at the beginning and/or end of your yoga routine. It can be practiced by everyone except for it’s a gentle pose that can serve as a warm up or cool down.

How to do it:

Start in Downward Facing Dog pose. Spread your knees and keep your hands under the shoulders with the fingers pointing forward.

On an inhale, you will slowly lower your back, your belly and your chest to the ground. Try and touch your nose to the floor while stretching your back.

Then roll onto your back, your belly and chest to the ceiling and look up while you inhale. Push your hands against the floor.

On an exhale, come back to Downward Facing Dog.

You can also place a block under your forehead to help with the up and down movement when you are working on shoulder flexibility.

Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Eagle pose improves flexibility and opens up the lungs as well as the shoulders and hips.

Standing with hands pressed together at heart center, exhale and press palms overhead, looking up to the sky and stretching your arms as far as you can reach. Turn thumbs toward the sky and breathe deeply and fully for five to ten breaths.

Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

You can expect to feel a stretch in the front of your body while also working on your balance. You’ll be working your quads and shoulders in this pose. Even though you are balancing and stretching out your body, you’ll find that it’s a little easier on the knees than some of the other poses because you are still standing. It is a good one for stretching out your hips and back. Start in Mountain Pose and then step your right foot out in between your hands. You’ll then want to focus on keeping the foot flexed and your knee over the foot, all while bending the front knee.

Fire Log Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

This pose can have tremendously good effects on your chest and shoulders. This is widely considered to be one of the best yoga poses for your back, because it can be pretty intense. If you do this pose as your warm up, you can prepare your body to get into asanas that are slightly more challenging, in terms of intensity.

If you want to practice this asana, you should know that it is not easy to perform at the first attempt. You must start finding the balance pose and balance on one foot. It can be more challenging if you are not flexible. When you have found balance on your foot, then you can try to bend towards the other knee and put the hand on the floor. You should be as straight as possible. Hold this pose for at least 10 seconds.

When you can do this pose without any problems, you can start bending the knee and the hip more, which means that you will move towards half lotus. Bend your hip and your knee as much as you can, and try to hold this pose for at least 30 seconds. This is considered to be the advanced edition of this pose.

If you are really flexible, you can try jumping in and out of the pose.

Now, just because this is a fire pose, it does not mean that it will be very hot. It depends on what you do with your hands. The posture will be harder if your arms are stretched far away.

Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Legs-up-the-wall pose is especially good for people who sit for many hours each day. This pose will help reduce the kinks from the lower back that would normally be created by sitting at the desk or in the car for too long. When you’re laying on the mat, grab a blanket and lay it across your lap. Now, you’ll want to prop yourself up using the blanket. You want your upper back to be flat on the floor, which is why you need to use the blanket roll so that your upper spine curves with the mat.

Once you’re laying out flat on the mat use the blanket as a frame for your lower body and legs by placing your feet over the top of the blanket. From here you want to let your feet dangle to the ground, while resting your head and neck on the floor.

The sole purpose of this pose is to allow your body to relax as much as possible so that it can replenish its stress and engage in physical activity later on.

This pose is great for helping with circulatory problems and even rehydrating the body.

Locust Pose (Salabhasana)

This pose strengthens the back muscles in your spine as well as your arms and your abs. In addition to relieving backache, this pose stretches the groin, knees, shoulders, and chest area.

How to do it: Paintain this pose for 15-30 seconds, then do the other side. Repeat two more times.

How it relieves back pain: This pose strengthens the back by giving the lower back muscles more support and flexibility. It also relieves stiffness in the chest and shoulder area, while increasing your lung capacity and thigh strength.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

This pose allows for slow breathing and massage of internal organs in the abdomen, chest, and throat. Camel pose also eases chronic bronchitis, intestinal disorders, constipation, and insomnia.

How to do it: Start on your hands and knees. Lift the right knee up and the left leg behind you with the knee off the floor. Balance on the right foot, holding the left foot with the left hand. Inhale and lift the chest up, looking forward, then exhale and bend the head down and bring it between the knees. Reassume the starting position and repeat on the other side. Then exhale and bring the chest forward, inhale and arch back, looking up towards the ceiling. Relax and rest in the final position and repeat 2-3 times.

Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

The Sphinx pose is one of the traditional yoga poses that’s said to relieve back and neck pain. It also improves muscular tone, which can help to loosen up the stiffer and tighter muscles of your back.

To do the Sphinx pose, lie face down on a mat or carpet. Put your forearms on the mat/carpet, with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Stretch out your legs behind you, keeping them as straight as possible.

Your head and neck should be the only part of your body that’s touching the floor. Hold the pose for as long as you can and always check in with your body when doing a yoga pose to see if it’s right for you.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Rest your knees on the ground and hands on the thighs. 2. Press the buttocks down. 3. Rest your head on the ground and close your eyes. 4. Relax the whole body.

Benefits:

This pose stretches the neck and shoulders, relieves tension in the lower back and the legs. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and heels a few inches from your buttocks. Lift your feet and put your left heel in your right groin and your right heel right on the base of your left buttock. Apply pressure with your elbows as your press your inner thighs together. Your back can be flat or arched slightly.

Perform this pose daily for regular relief to the spine and back muscles.

Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Twists are an incredible way to reduce tension and stress, and are even more effective when paired with deep breathing. This particular twist is perfect for those suffering from lower back pain, because it releases tension and stress from your lower back and abdominal muscles.

How to do it:

Lie on your back with your knees bent.

Bring your arms alongside your body, with your palms placed flat on the floor.

Slowly lift your upper body until you're in a diagonal line with your knees.

Keeping your knees bent, slowly allow your knees to move toward your chest until they’re just above your shoulders.

To deepen the stretch, gently pull your knee towards your chest.

Hold for 10-15 seconds and release.

Repeat 3-5 times, before switching to the other side.

Plank Pose (Phalakasana)

A strong core is pivotal to take pressure off of your spinal column, which is why this pose is one of my favorites. It’s perfect if you have a weakened core, but even if you’re fit enough to do a giant wheel, there’s always a way to benefit from it.

From a push-up position, place your weight on your forearms, with your elbows and wrists directly under your shoulders; ignore your hands. Extend your legs behind you and rest your toes on the mat.

Push firmly into the hand-foot position, lift your hips up and off the mat, adjusting your weight to your toes. Engage your core and your gluteal muscles and keep your legs parallel.

Relax your shoulders, head and neck. Keep your face parallel to the mat, and then drop your head toward the floor, or gaze toward the ceiling.

Supported Corpse Pose (Salamba Savasana)

As the title indicates, this pose is done lying on your back. This is very important for people suffering from back pain as the spine needs to be completely relaxed. We are all so very used to slouching in dank and dark offices and homes, that we have to get used to lying down on a perfectly flat surface again.

The best thing about this pose is that you do not have to use a specialized mat. However, it is important to lie down on a mat or carpet, because the last thing you want to do is lie down on an uneven surface. When doing this pose on a carpet, roll it up so it is only about an inch or two thick. Now lie down on one side, and pull the leg on top of the other. Bring your hands behind your back and interlock the fingers. This pose helps relax the shoulders and helps the person to feel completely relaxed. The chest and abdomen area should be completely relaxed, and there should not be any tension in the back, either. You will instantly feel your back muscles relaxing when you do this pose.