Whether your back pain stems from your workout, stressful schedule, or sitting all day at a desk, stretching out the right way can help you release all that built up tension. That’s where yoga comes in: Practicing poses that emphasize strength and stability can work wonders for your aches, explains Caitlin Casella, a YogaWorks teacher and teacher trainer who has dealt with low back pain.
But group classes can get tricky, she says, and some poses can end up doing more harm than good if you’re not careful.
“Don’t be so concerned about flexibility. Be more concerned about getting stronger, more stable, and improving the quality of breath when you rest,” Casella says.
So what moves should you focus on? The following poses will encourage you to find length on all four sides of your body as you stabilize your core and back muscles. Move slowly through each one and pause in each pose for at least 10 breaths. Feel free to linger a little longer in child’s pose, supported bridge, and constructive rest.
Why it helps: If you think your back pain stems from poor posture, this pose can help stretch out your spine, and strengthen it in the process.
How to do it: Lie face-down, forehead resting on floor. Place hands on either side, at middle of ribcage. Draw legs together, pressing tops of feet into floor. Reach back through toes, lengthening legs, and press evenly through hands as you draw elbows close to ribcage. Using strength of back (not arms), lift head and chest, sliding shoulder blades down back. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths before gently releasing to floor, turning head to one side.
Extended Child’s Pose with Blocks
Why it helps: Child’s Pose is grounding and lengthens the sides of your body. “It provides gentle traction on the spine, and brings awareness to the midline of the body,” says Casella.
How to do it: Come onto your hands and knees. Place two flat blocks shoulder-distance apart at the front of your mat. Bring your palms onto the blocks, and press your hips back and down toward your heels. Press your palms into the blocks, straighten your arms, and lengthen through the sides of your torso.