How Yoga Can Relieve Back Pain

Many people start practicing yoga to help alleviate back pain. As a yoga teacher, the most common question I'm asked is, "What can I do to stretch out my back?" While your back may feel like it needs to be stretched out, more than anything it needs to be strengthened. Our backs already have a decent amount of flexibility from day-to-day activity. But in our day-to-day activities—sitting at our desks, in our cars, and on our couches—the muscles that should be holding us up have just atrophied. If you take some time to build up the muscles along your spine, I guarantee you'll no longer have that feeling of needing a good stretch. Locust Pose is a great place to start.

Begin by lying on your belly with your feet hip's width apart. Press the tops of your feet down and into the floor. Press hard enough that your thighs firm and your kneecaps actually lift up off the floor. Lift your belly into your spine and press your tailbone down toward the floor. This will stabilize your lower back so that your upper back does most of the work in this pose. Interlace the fingers behind you and squeeze your arms as straight as possible. If this isnt possible, hold onto a towel or strap behind you. Lengthen your arms back and then begin to lift your head, chest, and shoulders up off the floor. You will notice that your arms slide back.


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Try to pick your hands up off of your body so they are in line with the shoulders, if possible. Dont jam your chin up—this can hurt the back of your neck and doesnt help strengthen the back at all. Hold for 5–15 breaths. Release and repeat 3–5 times. Afterward, take Child's Pose to give your spine some relief. Please make sure to do all of these moves slowly and gently.

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