Yoga is a great exercise and one that can be done individually or in a group. When it comes to your spine, you want to strengthen those muscles around it and build up your core strength to support it — that’s where yoga comes in. Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that allows you to go at your own pace. It also helps those who are suffering from back pain, by focusing on your controlled breathing and mindful awareness. So whether you’re easing back into exercise, dealing with a flare-up, or just trying something new, these 11 yoga poses are a must.
Sit cross-legged. Place your palm on the opposite knee, and twist backward until you feel a stretch. The goal is to place your other palm onto the ground behind you while stretching. Repeat with the other side of your body. This stretch not only helps with the flexibility of your back muscles and spine, but it also stretches the upper chest and shoulders.
Place both legs out in front of you with your toes facing up. Bend forward while keeping your legs straight. Bend as much as you can towards your knees, and use your hands to hold your feet for adding in that extra stretching. This pose loosens up the hip joint and muscles, helps with training your back and legs to become more flexible, and gives a good stretch to your hamstrings.
Start on your hands and knees, head facing forwards. As you inhale you’ll want to lift your chest to the ceiling, allowing your stomach to sink towards the floor. On the exhale you should drop your head down, round your spine, and lengthen your arms. Both of these positions are stretching your torso and your neck (Cat Pose, your back torso. And Cow Pose, your front torso.)
Start on your hands and knees, back straight. You’re going to sweep one arm under the other with your palm facing the ceiling and hold that position. Repeat with the other side of your body. This pose will help stretch the muscles of your lower back and your waist.
From a kneeling position, place your hands out in front of you with your palms on the floor. You’ll then want to sit back onto your heels while keeping your face looking at the floor. While in Child’s Pose, you will be stretching your hips, thighs, and ankles. It is also a good pose for relieving stress.
This pose is just like Child’s Pose, but you are not sitting back on your heels. From a kneeling position, place your hands out in front of you with your palms on the floor. You’ll then want to drop your chest to the ground while keeping your face looking at the floor. This pose helps stretch your spine and shoulders.
Lie on your stomach with your hands facing forward, directly under your shoulders. While keeping your elbows by your side, press your hands into the ground and slowly lift your chest, head, and shoulders to create an arch in your back. You’ll want to maintain a slight bend in your elbows during this stretch. Cobra Pose is great for multiple areas of your body — number one it strengthens your spine, but it also stretches your chest, shoulders, and abdomen. It also helps sooth sciatica, and opens up your lungs and heart more.
Place your hands and feet on the mat in a pushup position. While keeping only a slight bend in your knees, and heels slightly off the ground, you’ll want to press into the mat and lift your butt up towards the ceiling. This position provides an increase in blood flow and circulation within your body. It also opens up your chest and shoulders, therefore allowing your spine to align straighter and improve your posture.
From a standing position, bring your left foot back and have your toes facing outwards. Bring your right foot forward with your foot pointing forwards. You’ll then bring your arms up to be parallel with the floor; palms facing down. Bend your right knee perpendicular to the floor. Make sure your knee does not go past your ankle and keep your head facing your right hand. Repeat with the other side of your body. Warrior II Pose can help ease sciatica and backaches, while also giving you a great stretch in your groin, legs, abdomen, and chest.
Continuing from your foot placement with Warrior II Pose; you want to keep your legs apart — right foot facing forward, and left foot facing outwards. You will keep your knees straight for this one. Bring your arms up to be parallel with the floor; palms facing down. From your hip, bring your right arm down to touch the mat next to your right foot. You’ll then turn your head to face the ceiling where your left hand is. Repeat with the other side of your body. This pose provides a very good stretch for your spine, hips, hamstring, and groin. It also challenges your balance and stability.
From a standing position, bend your right knee and place your right foot high on your inner left thigh. Keep your left foot pointed forwards, and your right knee out to the side. You can then either have your hands at chest level (palms pressed together), above your head with your palms pressed together or above your head with your hands reaching up and out above your shoulders. Do what is best for your balance. Repeat with the other side of your body. Tree pose is a great position for strengthening your core, working on your balance, and improving your posture.
Yoga can help not only with strengthening, but also with relaxation. These poses will help you focus on your breathing and balance, thus centering your mind and allowing yourself to harness the pain you might be feeling from a flair-up or back injury. While yoga might help ease your neck or back pain, coming in for a visit with one of our spine-specialized physicians will really help you to get back to a pain-free life!
Dr. Ehsan Jazini is a board certified spine surgeon at Virginia Spine Institute.
He has been the first in the nation, and in the world, to perform advanced surgical techniques in cervical disc replacement, augmented reality (AR) spine surgery, and robotic spine surgery. Dr. Jazini was the first in the world to perform Augmented Reality guided personalized spine implant surgery using artificial intelligence. As a leading published author in the field of spine surgery, Dr. Jazini was selected as the Editor in Chief of The Spine Health Journal for the National Spine Health Foundation. Learn more about Dr. Jazini.
Reviewed by: Dr. Ehsan Jazini, MD.
Reviewed by: Dr. Ehsan Jazini, MD.