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Published on June 10, 2014

8 Yoga Poses to Relieve Back Pain

Yoga isn’t only for hip, young urbanites. It can also be extremely therapeutic for those suffering from back pain.

Woman in a yoga pose

Yoga can help relieve back pain, strengthen
core abdominal muscles and relieve stress.

If you don’t believe it’s possible to find back pain relief in exercise, you’re not alone. Sure it seems almost counter-intuitive that stretching your back can actually help you, but recent research shows that it can.

According to numerous studies, yoga can increase core strength, flexibility and endurance in those with back and neck pain. It can also help reduce depression by helping patients physically and mentally relax.

But before you sign up for a random yoga class, it’s important to know the different types of yoga to find which one is best for you. Iyengar yoga is good for those whose pain limits their mobility, since it focuses on proper alignment and precise movements. Ashtanga yoga, also known “Power Yoga,” involves powerful flowing movements such as push-ups and lunges. Bikram yoga, aka “hot yoga,” is performed in a hot room and isn’t recommended for those with cardiovascular disease. And then there’s Viniyoga, which is good for most people with back and neck pain, as it connects breathing and movement through flowing exercises.

If you’re not sure which one to try, ask your physician for his recommendation. Otherwise, here’s a yoga sequence to help you get started:

  • Reclining Twist Part I: Lay down on your back with your arms up by your head. Lift your legs, bend your knees and hold them together. Twist your legs to the right. Look to the left and hold for six to eight breaths before bringing your knees and hips to the center. Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Reclining Twist Part II: Remain on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Exhale and lower your knees to the right keeping them at hip level. Hold for six to eight breaths.
  • Thread the Needle: Next, keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your right ankle right below the left knee. Bring your right arm through the space between your legs and your left arm around the outside so your hands are around the back of your left thigh. Pull your left thigh toward your chest and press your right thigh away from your chest. Hold for six to eight breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Bridge Pose: Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips and torso off the floor, pressing down on your feet. Bring your hands together under your hips and press your shoulders and upper arms into the floor. Hold for six to eight breaths.
  • Warrior II Pose: Stand with your feet a few feet apart. Raise your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with your palms facing down. Turn your left foot and leg 90 degrees to the left and turn your right foot in. Bend your left knee and keep it over your heel. Turn your upper body to the left and look over your left hand. Hold for five breaths. Straighten up and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Downward Dog Pose: Kneel on the floor with your hands flat on your mat. Bring your knees directly below your hips with your hands slightly forward in front of you. Spread your palms. Lift your knees away from the floor. Bring your top thighs back and stretch your heels down to the floor. Hold this pose for six to eight breaths.
  • Plank Pose: From the downward dog pose, lower your hips so you’re in a pushup position with your arms extended outward. Tighten your abdomen and hold for five breaths. Lift back to a downward dog and hold for five breaths. Repeat these poses five more times.
  • Cat Pose: From the plank pose, bring your knees down so you’re kneeling on the floor with your hands spread out on the mat. Round your back, tilt your head down and press your palms into the floor. Repeat for six breaths.
  • Cow Pose: From the cat pose, bring your head up, curve your torso towards the floor and turn your sit bones up. Repeat for six breaths.
  • Corpse Pose: Lie on your back on the floor. Keep your arms a few inches away from your body with your palms facing upward. Stay in this position for five minutes.

Looking for advanced orthopedic expertise?

The Crozer-Keystone orthopedics team is ready to help. Call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or visit our orthopedics webpage.

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