A strong lower back can assist you in maintaining a healthy posture and help prevent lower back pain. Specific yoga postures, or asanas, practiced regularly increase the strength of the lower back muscles. If you suffer from back problems, or any medical condition that could limit movement, consult your doctor before beginning a yoga practice.
Low Cobra Pose
Shiva Rea, a leading teacher of prana vinyasa flow and contributor to "Yoga Journal" magazine, recommends practicing low Cobra pose to strengthen the muscles in the lower back. From lying facedown on a mat, bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor under your shoulders. Slowly lift the upper body slightly off the floor focusing on using your lower back muscles, not your arms. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds, rest and repeat twice.
Warrior 1 Pose
Yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar recommends Warrior 1 pose, or Virabhadrasana, to strengthen the muscles in the back. Start in Mountain pose and jump or step your feet four feet apart, right foot front, left heel aligned with the right heel and left foot turned out about 45 degrees. Keep your hips square to the front as you bring your arms straight overhead with the palms facing each other. Bend your right knee, grounding the leg through the heel. Continue to lift your ribs as you reach up, pressing the outside of your left heel into the floor and feeling the energy up your left leg and spine, through the shoulders and arms. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute and then switch sides.
Ustrasana, or Camel pose, tones the back muscles, according to Iyengar. While kneeling on the mat, bring your palms to your buttocks. Lift and lengthen the spine and start to bend backwards, keeping the pelvis pushed forward. Place your hands on your heels and relax your head back. Lift the chest toward the ceiling and feel the stretch along the length of your entire spine, not just the lower back. Keeping your lower back as long as possible prevents compressing your spine . Hold for 30 seconds.
In the book, "Yoga as Medicine", contributing author Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T., recommends three Cobra pose variations to strengthen the muscles of the lower back. While lying on your stomach, stretch your arms straight at your sides. Lift the the upper body slightly up off the ground, focusing on the lower back muscles. Next bring your arms out to the side, keeping the upper body lifted. Then stretch the arms straight out in front of you. Hold each arm position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- "Yoga Journal": Strengthen Your Core
- "Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health"; B.K.S. Iyengar; 2001
- "Yoga as Medicine"; Timothy McCall, M.D.; 2007