Lower back Yoga Poses
"An important principle to embrace is that pain is typically a good thing as it can help us identify something in our lives that is not good for our long term health." Dr Mercola
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints I hear from both my athletes and from students who have to sit for long periods at work. What surprises me is that they’ve accepted that they’ll always have to endure some level of physical discomfort, not realising that a consistent yoga practice could eliminate the pain.
Working with pro athletes
I first designed this routine for a pro mountain biker who was facing back surgery, his pain had become so unbearable. When the pain was at its worst, he wasn’t even able to get out of bed without help. As soon as I taught him the first few poses, he felt instant relief, and over the course of the next few months, he experienced a complete recovery.
At first, he practiced the routine every day and now, a few years on, he just needs to do it once or twice a week when he’s riding or travelling more than usual.
What causes lower back pain?
As with most chronic pain conditions, lower back pain is cause by a combination of poor posture and muscular imbalances that get gradually worse over time. Here is the typical pattern:
- Over-reliance on the seated position leads to shortened, ‘overactive’ hip flexors.
- Overactive hip flexors lead to weak glutes through a process known as reciprocal inhibition. As the muscles on one side of a joint become overactive, the antagonist muscles become weak or ‘inhibited’.
- The absence of glute strength leads to tight hamstrings and lower back as these muscles are forced to assist in stabilising the hips and core.
- Tight hamstrings pull the pelvis out of alignment putting strain on the lower back.
These issues are exacerbated by regular participation in sports that involve running, jumping and other dynamic movements, without proper stretching.
How does this routine work?
This routine has been designed to correct the complete spectrum of muscular imbalances involved in lower back pain – loosening up tight hips, strengthening the core and glutes, stretching the hamstrings, decompressing the spine and realigning the pelvis.
Take it slowly and be careful not to overstretch or put your body in a position that it’s not ready for. Your muscles will lengthen gradually over time. If you try to force a stretch, you’ll only create more tension in the muscles.
Skip any poses that you aren't ready for and if you need further modifications, drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth throughout the sequence. You can use your breath to guide you in knowing how deeply you should go into each of the poses. If your breath becomes short and shallow, it’s a sign that you should back off and re-adjust.
Deliberately slowing down your breath will allow your body to relax. And when your body is relaxed, you'll find your muscles are much more receptive to stretching.
If you suffer from any lower back injuries, please get the all clear from your physical therapist before attempting any of these exercises.
The 10 poses
Begin your session with a few deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, to relax your body and calm your mind.