Back pain is a common ailment that can affect anyone, regardless of age or lifestyle. Factors such as improper posture at work and the natural aging processes can lead to back discomfort, impacting our daily activities. Many people have to resort to medicine or physical therapy, but others swear by yoga as a successful and more accessible treatment.

Now, the question is, can yoga really help with back pain? In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of yoga for back pain and discuss the best poses that may offer relief and improve your quality of life.

The benefits of yoga for back pain

A study published by the British Medical Journal found that yoga is a viable method for alleviating and managing chronic back pain, potentially as beneficial as physical therapy administered by professionals. Participants reported reduced pain, improved function and reduced usage of pain medication.

Yoga is good for the back because it can help strengthen back muscles and improve flexibility, supporting the spine and improving your posture for better overall body alignment — this relieves pressure on the intervertebral discs and prevents back strain.

Additionally, yoga can help reduce stress levels, which are often linked to chronic pain. To sum it all up, yoga for pain relief is an effective treatment that offers a holistic approach to pain management and physical health. 

Best basic yoga poses for back pain

If you’re a beginner to yoga, don’t worry — there are many basic poses you can do with limited guidance while still experiencing their optimum benefits. Here are the best basic yoga poses to alleviate back pain:

  1. Cat-cow stretch — While on all fours, alternate between arching your back upwards (Cat) and dipping it downwards (Cow). This motion increases spinal flexibility and can relieve tension in the torso and neck.
  2. Child’s pose —Sitting on your heels with knees apart, extend your arms forward and lower your forehead to the ground. It stretches the spine, hips and thighs, promoting relaxation and reducing back pain.
  3. Downward-facing dog — With hands and feet on the ground, lift your hips to form an inverted V-shape. This pose stretches the spine, hamstrings and calves, strengthening the arms and legs.
  4. Pigeon pose — Starting from a plank, bring one knee forward between your hands and extend the other leg back. It opens the hip flexors and relieves tightness in the lower back.
  5. Cobra pose — Lying on your stomach, press your hands into the ground to lift your chest. This strengthens the spine and stretches the chest and abdominal muscles.
  6. Sphinx pose — For a gentler backbend than Cobra, rest on your forearms with elbows under your shoulders, lifting the chest. This will also strengthen the spine and gently stretch the chest, shoulders and abdomen.
  7. Locust pose — Lying face down, lift your head, chest and legs from the ground to strengthen the muscles in the back of the body and alleviate lower back pain.
  8. Bridge pose — Lying on your back, bend your knees and lift your hips towards the ceiling. This pose strengthens the back, glutes and hamstrings, which can help relieve tension in the lower back.
  9. Spinal twist — Lying on your back, bring one knee across the body while keeping your shoulders flat on the ground. It stretches the back muscles and spine, promoting flexibility and relieving pain.

Practicing yoga with back pain

You may have noticed that most of these poses can be done lying down or even in bed, which is exactly why they’re great for beginners or those with nearly debilitating back pain. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before starting your yoga practice for back pain:

  • If you suffer from extreme chronic pain, have recently been injured or are currently pregnant, consult with your doctor before starting your yoga practice.
  • Start out slowly and listen to your body so you don’t push it too far and risk more pain or injury.
  • Modify poses as needed, and don’t be afraid to use extra support, such as a yoga block or pillow, to make each pose easier on your body.
  • If you don’t have access to a yoga mat or equipment, or you are experiencing severe pain, we suggest doing very gentle yoga while lying down in bed.
  • Finally, it’s best to practice yoga with the help of an instructor to ensure proper technique and maximize its benefits.

Build your yoga routine with Yoga Holmes

Safely start your yoga practice and experience the full benefits of yoga for back pain with Yoga Holme’s beginner yoga classes. At Yoga Holmes, we provide personalized guidance to ensure you get the most out of your practice, no matter your skill level.

Learn more about the best online yoga classes to do at home, or contact us for more information on our expert instructors and subscription packages.