By: Riaz Chaudhry
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.
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.
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.
Triangle Variation at the Wall
Why it helps: You’ll “lengthen and strengthen the side body, arms, and legs,” with this move, says Casella.
How to do it: Next to a wall, step your feet wide apart so they are parallel. Turn your right toes 90 degrees toward the wall, and angle your left foot in slightly in the same direction. Bring your right hand to the wall and crawl it up to lengthen your side body. Stretch your left arm alongside your ear, root down through the sole of your left foot, and lengthen up through the left fingertips. Work to evenly lengthen the front, back, and both sides of your torso.
Why it helps: Like the supine twist, this move will ease tension in your lower back by opening up the hips.
How to do it: Lie on your back. Pull your knees to your chest and turn both of your legs to the left. Your right knee should lie on top of your left, as if they are stacked, resting on the ground. Do not force your knees down to the ground if you feel pain. Instead, tuck a pillow or block under your left knee for support. Stay in this position for 1 to 2 minutes, and then repeat on the other side.
Why it helps: This move “pacifies the muscles around the hips, abdomen, and low back,” says Casella.
How to do it: With bent knees, walk your feet wider than hip-width. If it’s comfortable, let the knees fall together. Let the weight of the legs hold each other up so you can relax the muscles around your thighs, hips, and abdomen.