Most of us experience low back pain at some point or another. Sometimes the cause is easy to identify — you had a long car ride or lifted some heavy boxes. But other times, back pain seems to come and go daily, perhaps during your yoga class, while you’re riding your bike, or sitting at your desk. Super frustrating.
If you’re experiencing low back pain in your daily life, in your yoga class, or during other exercises, here is a 10-minute set of yoga poses you can do to strengthen up those muscles and relieve your pain. With these poses, we’re looking to do three things: release tightness in the muscles of your low back, strengthen your lower back muscles so they’re more resilient, and give your low back muscles support from a strong core.
Warning: the following post contains yoga gifs. They’re pretty hilarious, but so useful so you can see the movements I’m talking about! Thank you for laughing along with me. Continue reading…
But if you’re anything like me, you’ve resolved to start a meditation practice many times, and subsequently haven’t follow through with it, either because the actual practice of meditation is unfamiliar, or you begin and can’t seem to take the time every day to practice.
Sometimes you have to go off balance to be in balance.
Revolved Side Angle Pose. It’s a tough one, right? You’re trying to keep your balance, and you’re all twisted around…the temptation is to round your shoulders, crunch in, and protect yourself from falling. It’s understandable that you’d fear falling…your body is not used to being in such a precarious position!
But what if you press your belly to your spine, feel your tailbone lengthen towards your feet, and envision your breath filling up your side body and back? Rather than bringing your off center, these motions help you bring integrity and strength to the pose. Even though it seems further off balance, you actually get stronger and feel more secure in the position. Crazy right?
I had an amazing yoga class at Yoga Tree in San Francisco. One of the highlights was this variation of Ustrasana, which I hadn’t seen before. In this variation, you do Ustrasana with your thighs facing the wall. This variation has great benefits: by pressing your legs against the wall, you bend backwards with your abdominals rather than just throwing your head back. It helps you integrate your ribs with the rest of your front body and is a great way to focus on ab strength in your backbends! And we all could use a little more core.
Fold your mat in half 3 times and place it next to the wall to get a nice cushion for your knees.
Kneel in front of the wall with your legs pressing into the wall.
Bring your hands to your low back, fingers facing up or down.
Lean backwards, focusing on pressing your thighs and hip points to the wall, keeping length in your lower spine, and tightening your core muscles. The point of this variation is not see how far back you can bend, but to feel the backbend coming from your abdominal muscles.
After a few breaths, return to upright, and try it again!
What do you think about this variation? My lower back felt great in this pose, and I’m very excited to integrate this variation into my regular practice for a while.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,
Samantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.
Since Laura Marling’s album “Once I was an eagle” refuses to leave my head (not a bad thing)…let’s talk eagle pose (garudasana).
How does eagle pose reflect its namesake? It takes some focus to remain standing on one leg while your entire body is tied up in knots. As you twist one leg around the other, your bent standing leg ends up placing you in a little perched seat that can actually feel quite stable despite the fact that everything is off kilter, and to me, your twisted up arms in front of your face feel quite like wings.
To remember in this pose:
-lengthen the spine, keep your hips level and even
-keep the integrity in your stomach and low spine to stabilize you
-lift the arms so your triceps are parallel to the floor. If this is too much pressure on your shoulders, or you feel like you’re jamming your shoulders towards your ears, just give yourself a hug instead.
Eagle is a delicate balance, requiring strength and focus, but there is ease in the pose your body can find comfort in it.
Good counter poses: uttanasana (standing forward bend), trikonasana (triangle pose), or parsva konasana (extended angle pose).