Back pain plagues us all, at some point---especially the older we get. And it can be downright debilitating! Thankfully, there's yoga to the rescue. Here's a nice, five-minute yoga sequence to relieve back pain. If you follow it every day, you'll no doubt ease back pain, and perhaps even prevent it from plaguing you in the first place.
Seated Cat/Cow Pose
Seated cat/cow pose is just like the traditional one, where you're on your hands and knees. Only this time, you're sitting cross-legged, on your yoga mat. This pose is an excellent one with which to begin because it's a gentle way to warm up the spine. Do several rounds of seated cat/cow to warm up your spine.
Knees to Chest
From seated cat/cow pose, slowly roll down your spine, one vertebrae at a time, until you're lying on your back. Now, pull your knees into your chest. Rock from side to side, and then around in small circles, massaging your spine as you do. This is an excellent and simple movement to massage, relax, and stretch the back.
From this position, stretch one leg straight out onto the floor, and take the bent knee out to the side to open your inner thigh. Then bring that bent knee over to the other side to end up in spinal twist. Spinal twist stretches the back to release and relieve back pain. Now, do this all on the opposite side.
Reclined Hamstring Stretch
For this posture, lie gently on your back. If you have a yoga strap, place it around the arch of one foot. The other leg is outstretched straight on the floor. If you're without a yoga strap, hold onto your hamstring, your calf, or your big toe---depending upon flexibility. Now, pull with your strap (or hands), so that the leg comes towards you. Feel a nice stretch in the hamstring as you do this. Breathe deeply into that hamstring and then switch sides. Â
Reclined hamstring stretch, also known as supta padangusthasana, prevents chronic back pain because it stretches the hips, hamstrings, thighs, calves, and groins.
Lie on your back with the legs outstretched on the floor. Using your abdominal muscles, raise the legs up and over your head, so that your feet come to touch the floor behind you. Breathe into your back and feel the tension float away. This is a powerful pose, and you'll no doubt feel it.
Plow pose, also called halasana, is one of the most beneficial poses for the back. It's shown to reduce backache while stretching almost every vertebrae of the spine.
From plow pose, it's a natural transition into shoulder stand. Simply raise your straight legs upwards over your head, while supporting your lower back with the hands.
Going upside down in an inversion like shoulder stand is like taking your back out for a day at the spa. It's totally rejuvenating! This "mother of all yoga poses" strengthens the shoulders and upper back, and increased strength is a natural antidote for pain. This pose also strengthens the nervous system while boosting immunity---to boons for those who suffer from back pain.
To come into bridge pose, bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor and close to your sits bones. The legs are hip's distance apart. Lift your tailbone upwards, towards the pelvis, so that your bottom raises upwards while your feet and thighs are parallel to one another. Your upper back and shoulders support you, and you can clasp your hands, while rolling the shoulder blades under.
Bridge pose is a powerful back pain reliever, as it opens the back and lengthens the spine. When it comes down to it, bridge pose is a kind of back bend, but much easier than the gymnast's traditional one.
Windshield Wiper Knees
From bridge pose, lower your bum to the floor and then windshield wiper the knees back and forth. This releases the back and feels really good in the process.
Reclined bound angle pose
Reclined bound angle pose is the perfect posture to come into next. Simply lie down on your back, placing the soles of your feet together. It's the same posture as the traditional bound angle pose, only this time you're lying peacefully on the floor. Feel into your hips as they open, and breathe into your hips and lower back. Imagine tension release from these areas as you inhale and exhale deeply. Hold here for several deep breaths.
Reclined bound angle pose, also known in Sanskrit as supta baddha konasana, helps relieve back pain because it opens up tight hips. The looser your hips, the less likely you'll be a candidate for chronic low back pain.
Neck rolls relieve tension in the neck. When your neck is overly stressed and the muscles tied up in knots, your back is inevitably affected---and not in a good way. Therefore, it's nice to end this sequence with several rolls of the neck---to the right, and then to the left. Breathe deeply as you do this and go slow, working out the kinks as you go.
Now that you've finished this sequence, it's nice to end with just a few minutes of meditation. Sit tall, with your hands on your knees, and breathe in to a count of four. As you do this, imagine any back pain you might be carrying to effortlessly float away. Hold the breath at the top of the inhale for a count of four, and then exhale to a count of four. At the bottom of the exhale, pause for another count of four before inhaling to begin the cycle again. Do this for as long as you like. Meditation helps relieve tension in all parts of your body---including your upper, mid, and lower back!