Certain yoga poses stretch the muscles in the back, which can create motion in the spine to counteract back pain, according to Dr. Peter F. Ullrich, Jr. Yoga poses can also provide support to the entire back by building core muscles, which include the abs and lower back, relieve tension in the back muscles and improve your posture. These attributes might improve your bad back, but it’s important to work with a professional to learn the cause of your back pain and the proper form for poses.
Flow From Cat to Cow
Performing a series between Cat pose and Cow pose helps you gently stretch your back in two different directions between an arch and a backbend. This stretching can improve the flexibility in your back so it is less stiff and painful. These poses are also very gentle, so they are not likely to strain your back. Start on all fours on the floor. Start in Cat pose by breathing out as you slowly arch your back and look toward your belly. Move into Cow pose by breathing in as you lift your chest, head and tailbone up, keeping your gaze forward and lengthening your spine. Move back and forth between the poses as you inhale and exhale. Perform the series 10 to 20 times.
Bend Your Back
Sphinx pose is a beginner's yoga backbend that provides a gentle stretch to the back to increase its flexibility. Perform backbends gently with proper form to prevent injury. Lie on the floor face down. Tilt your pelvis forward and lengthen your legs, stretching your toes behind you with active leg muscles. Lengthen your spine as you lift your chest and head off the floor to create a curve in your back. Support yourself with your forearms shoulder-width apart on the floor in front of you, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Hold this pose for five to 10 breaths.
Do the Twist
Bharadvaja’s Twist stretches the spine and the twisting motion relaxes the muscles in the back, especially the lower back. Sit on the floor, bend your knees and swing your legs to your left side so they are on the floor. Your feet should be near your left buttock with your left ankle sitting on your right foot’s arch. Lengthen your spine, breathe out and turn to the right by twisting your torso. Bring your right shoulder back with your right fingertips on the floor behind you; put your left hand on your right knee. Look behind your right shoulder. Hold the pose for five breaths, then switch sides. If you have difficulty, put a folded blanket or pillow under the buttock you are twisting toward.
Ease Your Tension
You can also experience tension and pain in your back muscles because of stress, explains Judith Hanson Lasater in the book “Yoga as Medicine.” Yoga stretches, yoga breathing and relaxation exercises can help ease this tension and stress. For example, try progressive muscle relaxation where you focus on relaxing one muscle group at a time until your entire body is relaxed.