As a sufferer of upper and lower back pain, I have practiced yoga for several years in order to find relief. Here are five of my favorite yoga poses that help improve posture, strengthen, and release tension in the back.
Forward bend. Depending on your flexibility and which is most comfortable for you, you can do this either standing or sitting. What you do is simply bend forward. If you are standing, you can attempt to place your hands under your feet. If you are sitting, your goal should be to place your hand on your shins. In any forward bend, be sure to always keep your spine straight (never curl). You should take deep breaths in and focus on releasing the muscles of your lower back. To make this easier, you may have someone push you forward to help you release your lower back. I have found this to be a great pose to release lower back tension.
Bridge. Not only is this pose great for strengthening your lower body, but it is also fantastic for your back when done correctly. Lay on your back with your knees popped up. Place your feet so they touch your bottom and be sure that they are in line with your hips. Slowly raise your bottom one vertebrae at a time. Once you are completely up, put your arms under your back and clasp your hands together to push your shoulder blades together. Hold the pose for at least a minute, but it should be held as long as possible to have greater benefit. When you are ready to come down, place your arms at your side and come down very slowly one vertebrae at a time. I have found that the slower you come down, the better it is at releasing any pain in your back. This pose is extremely helpful at releasing any lower back pain.
Cat-Cow pose. Go into a “crawl” position on your hands and knees. Simply curl your spine upward to go into cat pose and then curl your spine down to go into cow pose. Repeat this as many times as you wish. These are two great poses to alternate between to stretch and release tension.
Child’s pose. Sit with your feet under your bottom and your knees pointed outward to make a “V”. Bend forward, placing your head on the mat, and stretching your arms out in front of you. This is a great pose for lengthening your spine.
Fish pose. I have personally found this pose to be great at releasing tension in the upper back and neck. It is also a great pose to open up the chest to improve breathing. Start by laying flat on your back with your legs out and arms at your sides. Gradually push up your chest by shifting the weight to your elbows and bringing your elbows slightly under your back. As you do this, keep the top of your head barely touching the ground. This should create an almost “U” shape in your upper back. Simply hold and breath deeply. I feel that I gain the benefit by staying in this pose, but if you want to make it even more challenging put your hands into a prayer position on your chest, put your feet together, and lift your feet up. This next step to the pose is great to help strengthen your core.
More by Jennifer:
10 Benefits of Yoga
Tips for Your First Yoga Experience
Four Benefits of Pilates