The Best Yoga Poses for Every Type of Back Pain

patrick-malleret-1307561-unsplashYour sore back isn’t alone in the world. Back pain is ubiquitous: about 80 percent of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives, and it’s the leading cause of job-related disability. Luckily, for sore backs, there’s yoga. Here, we’ve listed out a couple of poses for upper, middle, and lower back pain — but no one’s stopping you from trying all of them.

(Reminder to check with your doctor to check if these poses are right for you.)

Yoga Poses for Upper Back Pain

Much of your back pain may be caused by poor posture — your upper back is no exception. When you’re looking for poses that will help relieve your upper back, find those that talk about opening up the shoulders. The following poses will help you do just that.

Cat-Cow Pose

  •  Start on your hands and knees. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrists and your hips are over your knees.
  1. Inhale and arch your back, tipping your tailbone up to the sky and gently pushing your belly down to the floor. Squeeze your shoulders together and elongate your neck.
  2. Come back to center and move into cat pose: round your spine to the sky, tuck your chin to your chest, and stretch through your mid and upper back.
  3. Continue to flow in and out of these two poses for as long as feels good.

Double V Pose

  •  In this pose, you’ll be crossing your arms underneath you while you lie on your belly. To start, place a block at the top of your mat.
  1. Lying on your belly, prop yourself up and cross your right arm underneath your collarbone so your fingers are pointing to the left side of the mat.
  2. Cross your left arm under your collarbone so that your fingers are pointing to the right of the mat. At this point, both forearms should be crossed beneath your chest.
  3. Walk your fingers as far as they can go to bring your chest as close to the ground as possible, and rest your head on your block. Breathe.
  4. Once you’re ready, switch the top arm out so they both get a stretch.

Yoga Poses for Mid Back Pain

Many of the poses meant to relieve mid back pain will talk about strengthening the spine. For the mid back, strengthening the muscles around the spine will help keep everything steady, making it more resistant to pulls or tweaks. These two poses should help you get a stronger back.

Puppy Pose

  •  Think downward dog, but modified. Begin in table top, with wrists and shoulders in line and knees and hips in line.
  1. Walk your hands towards the top of your mat, elongating the spine, pulling your chest down, and bringing your forehead to the floor to rest. Your hips should still be stacked on top of your knees.
  2. Breathe.

Cobra Pose

  •  Start in downward dog. Bring your hips down and body forward into a plank pose.
  1. Lower yourself to the ground, keeping your elbows tucked.
  2. Gently push up through the floor, keeping your hips down, opening your chest and keeping the back of your neck long. Roll your shoulders back and down as you lift your chest as high as it will go. Try to straighten your arms fully.
  3. Breathe.

Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain

Pain at the seat of your spine is likely also related to tight ligaments and muscles in your hips and legs. The following two poses target the lower back, but they also stretch key parts of your lower body, including your hamstrings and hips, to help release tension at the base of your spine.

Wide Leg Forward Fold

  •  Start with your legs wide apart (the wider you have them, the easier the pose).
  1. Begin to fold forward from the hips, keeping the spine straight. Keep your hands on your hips to steady the fold.
  2. Place your palms on the mat, inhale and lift your body up halfway, and exhale into the fold, putting your palms back onto the mat and folding into your elbows, bending them as necessary. If you’re flexible, move your palms to be right between your legs, resting the top of your head on your mat.
  3. Inhale up, exhale down for a few counts. When you’re done, fold back up, keeping your spine straight.

Half Butterfly Seated Pose

  •  Start in a seated pose, legs crisscrossed in front of you.
  1. Extend your left leg out straight in front of you and bring your right foot to your left leg’s inner thigh.
  2. Turn your torso and upper body toward your left leg.
  3. Inhale, bringing your arms above your head, and exhale and fold into your left leg, letting gravity do most of the work. Allow your chin to fold into your chest (but if this is uncomfortable for you at any point, bring your neck to neutral).
  4. Breathe.

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