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Yoga Asanas that can help relieve back pain

Yoga for Back Pain: 12 Asanas which Can Strengthen your Back Muscles

We are all probably familiar with Yoga, at least to the extent of hearing the word thrown around at the gym or stumbling upon a video about it on YouTube. But to reduce Yoga into just “exercise” would be a shame. Originating in ancient India over 5000 years ago, Yoga is now a way of life for millions around the globe. Practicing Yoga can ensure one’s mental and physical well being, and is a source of spiritual enlightenment. Even though Yoga poses or asanas for beginners may seem boring or too easy, some are in fact so challenging that it takes years to master. But do not be discouraged; even basic yoga poses give noticeable results, and train you for the harder ones. As mentioned before, Yoga is an effective tool in strengthening the body and mind, but you would be surprised to know that there are asanas which can even help you deal with specific problems, such as that annoying back pain that refuses to go away, much like rehabilitatory exercises. Read on to learn about 12 such asanas which might just be the cure you were looking for!

Note: It is always advisable to buy a yoga mat first before practicing yoga, or repurposing any mat you may already have into one. To do Yoga on the cold, hard floor would not be the relaxing and enjoyable experience you are looking for!

Yoga Poses to heal Back Pain

1. Balasana

Balasana literally translates to the Child’s Pose, referring to the fact that when executed, it closely resembles the fetal position. It is a resting pose, and even though it is advised to start slow, you can gradually increase the time that you hold the pose for. The Balasana is a very calming pose, and is also great for stress relief. It relaxes the frontal muscles while gently stretching the back and torso. When doing yoga for back pain, it is recommended that you do this asana while giving some support to your torso.

How to perform Balasana?

  1. Sit on your knees with some space in between, keeping your upper body straight.
  2. Then, get on all fours, with your palms, knees and toes firmly planted on the ground.
  3. Pull your hips and buttocks back till they rest on the heels of your legs. Stretch your arms forward.
  4. Slowly bring your face forward and rest your forehead gently on the ground.

how to perform balasana

Duration
Start off with 30 seconds, and increase to 2-3 minutes gradually.

Frequency
3-4 times per session.

2. Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

The Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, better known as the Dolphin Pose, is another pose that is an example of a yoga pose good for back pain. The pose gives a V-shaped appearance, with the forearms, palm and toes firmly rooted to the ground, and the rest of the body forming the mentioned V. In addition to helping with back pain, the Ardha Pincha Mayurasana also aids with digestion, shoulder strengthening and stress. Since it requires a mild inversion of the body, it might cause a bit of strain for beginners. Start with small durations of half a minute and work your way up slowly.

How to perform Mayurasana?

  1. Start by kneeling on all fours.
  2. Then, slowly pull your hips and buttocks up, bending your spine.
  3. Slowly straighten your knees.
  4. Keep your legs as straight as possible and push your buttocks out as much as you can.

How to perform Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

Duration
Start with around 20 seconds and work your way up.

Frequency
2-3 times per session.

3. Uttana Shishosana

When talking about yoga for back pain, the Uttana Shishosana is extremely important. At first glance, it is closely related to the Balasana. It, however, stretches the spine a little bit more, and is hence better to alleviate back pain. It is a backward bend posture. On execution, the pose resembles a stretching puppy, and hence it is commonly known as the Extended Puppy Pose.It is also good to relieve pain in the spine and shoulders, and is an effective stress relief asana as well.

How to perform Uttana Shishosana?

  1. Start by sitting on your knees, arms by your side and your upper body straight.
  2. Raise your arms up high such that they are parallel to each other.
  3. Bring your arms forward and touch the ground. Bring your face and upper body forward too till your forehead gently rests on the ground.
  4. Now, bend your legs at the knees and thrust your hips and buttocks upwards.

How to perform Uttana Shishosana

Duration
30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Frequency
2-3 times per session.

4. Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana

The Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana is another pose that resembles one of a dog, in this case, the Upward Facing Dog. It is popular as a step involved in the Surya Namaskar, an important sequence of yoga poses that offer salutations to the Sun. It is a simple pose that bends the back and provides relief from back pain by strengthening it. It also helps with strengthening the arms and wrists.

How to perform Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana?

  1. Begin by sitting on all fours.
  2. Bring your upper body forward, with the knees, feet and palms still planted on the floor.
  3. Bring your upper body to the ground, with arms bent by your shoulders.
  4. Push your upper body up such that your back is curved.

How to perform Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana

Duration
Start off with 45 seconds and work your way up.

Frequency
2-3 times per session.

5. Ardha Bhekasana 

The Ardha Bhekasana literally translates to the Half Frog Pose. It stretches the hips and gently bends the back. It is an asymmetrical pose, and is a little harder than the ones discussed so far. But the Ardha Bhekasana is great as yoga for treating back pain, and is also good for the hips and shoulders. This pose stretches one side of your body at a time, and it is important to hold the pose for each side an equal amount of time. As usual, start off with small intervals of time and increase gradually with practice.

How to perform Ardha Bhekasana?

  1. Start by laying down on your belly, with your elbows underneath your shoulders on the ground and your arms extended forward.
  2. Stretch your thighs together with a little space between your knees. Slowly pull your left leg inwards towards your hips, and stretch your left hand backwards.
  3. Hold your foot with your hand.
  4. Further pull your foot inward with your hand. Try to make it touch your left buttock.

how to perform ardha Bhekasana

Duration
Start off with upto 40 seconds on each leg. It is important to maintain the same duration for each leg.

Frequency
2-3 full full cycles per workout.

6. Garudasana

The Garudasana is also known as the Eagle Pose. It helps with back pain by stretching and strengthening the muscles on the upper back. It is also good for your hips and shoulders. It is a standing pose, with your weight supported alternately on either feet. It immensely strengthens your lower back, and hence is a good asana considering yoga for back pain. Interestingly, Garuda does not literally translate to Eagle as it does for most poses. Garuda is in fact a divine creature in Hindu Mythology with the face of an Eagle and the body of a Man, which is similar to how the Garudasana looks on execution.

How to perform Garudasana?

  1. Start by standing straight. Cross your arms in front of your body while keeping them straight.
  2. Bend your right arm at the elbow and bring in front of your body. Intertwine with your left arm, at the elbow and the wrist.
  3. Bend your knees slightly.
  4. Bring your right foot off the ground, and cross it over the left leg at the thighs.

how to perform garudasava

Duration
This asana can strain your hips, so start slow and stop at any discomfort. 20-40 seconds is a good time frame.

Frequency
3-4 full repetitions per workout.

7. Virabhadrasana I

The Virabhadrasana series of Yoga poses are named after the warrior Bhadrasana, and are also known as the Warrior Poses. They are standing poses and are good for strength and stability, and to increase concentration levels. The poses are particularly graceful and satisfying to watch and perform. The Virabhadrasana I strengthens the hip and the lower back.

How to perform Virabhadrasana I?

  1. Stand straight on your feet. Then, widen the distance between your feet to a comfortable stretch.
  2. Turn the right leg perpendicularly to the right side. Face the direction the leg is pointing, and bring your arms around you over your head so that the palms meet.
  3. Bend your right knee so that your knee and ankle are in a straight line. Face upwards, stretching your hips, back and spine.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, straighten your knee, bring the arms back down and turn your leg back straight.
  5. Repeat with your left foot and hold for an equal amount of time to complete one cycle. Repeat 3-5 times.

How to perform Virabhadrasana 1

Duration
20 seconds to a minute per leg at a time.

Frequency
3-4 cycles per session.

8. Virabhadrasana II

The Virabhadrasana II is a Warrior Pose that focuses on the legs and ankles. However,this asana  helps with back pain as well by strengthening the lower back. It also offers relief from lower back cramps.

How to perform Virabhadrasana II?

  1. Begin by standing in a wide stance with your upper body straight.
  2. Now raise your arms sideways with the palms facing downwards.
  3. .Point the right feet perpendicularly to the right side. Face right, the same direction your toes point.
  4. Bend the right knee so that the knee and ankle are in a straight line. Keep your left leg as straight as possible, in order to form a fallen “7” with your legs.

how to perform virabhadrasava

Duration
20 seconds to a minute per leg at a time.

Frequency
3-4 cycles per session.

9. Virabhadrasana III (H3)

The Virabhadrasana III is the last Warrior Pose. In addition to strengthening the back muscles and reducing back pain, it is also good for the shoulders and calves. It firms up the abdominal muscles as well.

How to perform Virabhadrasana III?

  1. Stand straight with your arms by your side.
  2. Bring your right foot slightly forwards, and bend the right knee. Place your arms at your hips.
  3. Now, bring your upper body forward while facing down, and lift your left foot off the ground. Your right foot should be firmly planted on the ground, and the left and right feet should be perpendicular to each other.
  4. Move your hands from your hips and stretch them out in front of you.

How-to-perform-Virabhadrasana 3

Duration
20 seconds to a minute per leg at a time. But since all weight is on one leg, stop if you feel discomfort.

Frequency
3-4 cycles per session.

10. Ustrasana

The Ustrasana is also known as the Camel Pose. It is a backward bend pose. It is extremely effective as yoga for treating lower back pains. The Ustrasana also aids digestion. It is again advisable to start by holding the pose for small amounts of time before increasing the holding time.

How to perform Ustrasana?

  1. Start by standing on your knees with your upper body straight. Place your hands on your thighs.
  2. Slowly bend the upper body back.
  3. Bring your hands down so that your arms are touching the heels of your feet.
  4. Simultaneously pull your upper body backwards towards your feet, and push your chest out as far out as possible.

how to perform ustrasava

Duration
For a beginner, 30 seconds is good. Gradually increase to around 2-3 minutes.

Frequency
2-3 times per workout

11. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

The Sethu Bandha Sarvangasana is another important yoga pose for back pain. Also known as the Bridge Pose, it is a backward bend, and enforces your spine and hips as well. The pose is very versatile, it can be modified for different benefits and can also be done as a precursor to more advanced poses.

How to perform Setu Bandha Sarvangasana?

  1. Begin by laying on your back with your legs bent at the knees. Keep your hands at the sides.
  2. Supporting your weight on the legs, push up your buttocks, hips and torso. Bring your palms together on the ground underneath your body.

How to perform Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Duration
Anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Frequency
2-3 times per session

12. Salabhasana

The Salabhasana is better known as the Locust Pose. It is fondly called a baby backbend because it is a pose a beginner can easily perform. But it pays rich dividends, and is good for the back, spine and the torso. It involves suspending your weight on your frontal torso.

How to perform Salabhasana?

  1. Begin by laying down on your belly. Lift both legs and hands off the ground.
  2. Stretch your feet and hands as far up as possible.

How to perform Salabhasana

Duration
20 seconds to two minutes.

Frequency
3-4 repetitions per workout

Parting Shot

There are many more asanas that are considered to be good for back pain, and to list them all would be tedious. But the most important reason to choose yoga as your way to a pain free life is that it promotes your general well being as well. Yoga strengthens all parts of your body, and even helps alleviate stress and depression. It heals you physically, mentally and spiritually. Ayurvedic medicine is another organic remedy for body pains. It can be done at home with little to no equipment. A Yoga mat is all you need for most asanas. And to top it all off, as long as one is careful and avoids injuries, Yoga has little to no side effects. So go grab that Yoga mat and get started today!

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