Yoga for a Strong Lower Back

A strong and supple lower back is one of the main ingredients for getting through a hectic day without pain. A powerful back will not only let yogis lead a pain-free life, but it will help one maintain a beautiful and healthy posture, increase energy and make one feel better in other aspects of life.

Research in the UK supports the benefits of practicing yoga to relieve lower back pain. According to PubMed Health, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Manchester and at yoga studios in York and Cornwall found that lower back pain suffers who attended weekly yoga sessions had less pain during normal tasks than patients who did not.

There are many types of yoga to choose from to aid in lower back strengthening.  Vinyasa yoga, often called ‘flow yoga’, is a natural choice for people who are interested in alleviating lower back pain. Vinyasa yoga focuses on stretching and moving the body in a controlled manner. Vinyasa yoga can either be performed slowly or more quickly, but this style concentrates on using the breath to control the progression of the yoga poses (asanas).

The Yoga Journal lists the four following yoga postures to help strengthen lower back muscles and increase flexibility.

As with the commencement of any exercise program, consult a physician before beginning these yoga poses.

Get warmed up with Warrior One:

1. Stand facing forward with the feet four feet from each other. Make sure that body weight is evenly distributed.

2. Step the left leg back and bring hands to hips. Bring the right hip forward by bending the right leg. Take care that the left hip is gently pushing backwards. Advanced students may want to bend their right leg until their right thigh is parallel to the floor.

3. Inhale and raise the arms slowly overhead and reach them high towards the ceiling. At the same time make sure that the shoulder blades are pressed against the back and directed down towards the ground.

4. Hold for 30 seconds, exhale and bring the arms slowly down. Return to the starting pose and repeat on the opposite side.

Try Cow Pose to provide a massage to your spine:

1. Get on hands and knees in  a tabletop position. Make sure that the hands are directly under the shoulders and that the knees are below the hips. The head is down and the gaze is towards the floor.

2. Inhale and lift the lower spine and chest up towards the ceiling. Raise the head and look straight ahead.

3. Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

For advanced yoga practitioners, the Cat Pose can be performed during the exhale portion of Cow Pose. For beginning students, each pose may be performed separately.

Use Cat Pose to stretch the back, torso and neck:

1. Get on hands and knees and position the hands and knees in the same way as Cow Pose. Again, the head is down and one’s gaze is looking at the ground.

2. Upon an exhalation, round the back and push it towards the ceiling. Let the chin slowly sink down. Let the neck hang down in a natural position.

3. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Finish the back conditioning yoga with Garland Pose:

1. Squat with the feet as close together as possible.

2. Separate legs slightly and lean forward, exhale and lean forward further.

3. Press the palms together and press outward with the elbows against the inner thigh.

4. Hold for 30 seconds.

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Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2011-11-01-yoga-helps-chronic-lower-back-pain/
http://www.yogajournal.com/pose