Yoga for Back Pain

This is a beginner-friendly sequence of 10 easy yoga poses for relieving and preventing back pain. This practice is gentle and restorative, intended to stretch and relive stress in the spine and back muscles.

The 10 poses are described in more details below:

  1. Makrasana / Crocodile Pose – Begin the practice by laying prone on your belly. You can rest your forehead on your hands, or if it is more comfortable, turn your head gently to one side and lay your head directly on your mat with hands folded above you. Take deep belly breaths and feel how your breath causes your lower back to rise and fall, relieving tension and giving a slight massage. Take 12 breaths (at least a minute).
  2. Balasana / Child’s Pose – Press up and back into Child’s Pose. You can choose one of two variations, whichever is more comfortable for you. The first variation is to keep your knees together so that your chest can rest on your thighs, with arms relaxing alongside the body. The second variation it to bring your knees apart as wide as the mat, keeping toes touching, and stretching your arms forward.
  3. Marjaryasana-Bitilasana / Cat-Cow – Come into a table-top position: shoulders over wrists, hips over knees. On an inhale, open the chest and look up. Exhale, round the shoulders and look towards your belly. Yes, you are encouraged to navel gaze here! Repeat with the breath at least 5 times.
  4. Anjaneyasana / Low Lunge – From a table-top position, step forward with your right leg into a low lunge. Place hands on your right thigh for support, squeeze your glutes and feel the stretch in your left hip flexors. On an inhale, raise your arms up, circle the right wrist with your left hand. On an exhale, bend to your left. Come back to center on the next inhale, circle left wrist with right hand, and on the next exhale, bend to your right. On an inhale, come back to center and reach both arms straight overhead. On an exhale, cactus or goal post your arms, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Repeat the lengthening and “cactusing” movement 3 times along with your breath. Switch legs and repeat this sequence on the other side.
  5. Salamba Bhujangusana / Sphinx Pose – Lay prone on your belly. Prop your upper body up with your elbows directly under your shoulders and forearms parallel to each other in front of you, belly stays on the mat. Push shoulders away from ears and find length in your neck and spine. Gaze at a point toward on the floor several feet in front of you. Take a block and pick the height that is comfortable for you to prop your forehead upon for a supported version of Sphinx Pose. Sink into this pose for 1-2 minutes. If and when it gets too uncomfortable, pull back into Child Pose (whichever variation works for you) as a counter pose to Sphinx Pose and rest there for a moment.
  6. Uttanasana / Forward Fold – Find a wall. Stand with back to wall about half a foot away. Lean back to press hips against the wall. Fold forward, bending knees as much as necessary for torso to rest on thighs. Let head hang down. Hug opposite hand to opposite elbow, or let hands rest on the floor. Sway side to side.
  7. Tadasana / Mountain Pose – From Forward Fold, roll up, vertebrae by vertebrae to standing so that head comes up last. Spread toes. Plant feet. Distribute weight evenly across feet. Stack knees over feet, hips over knees, shoulders over hips, ears over shoulders. Imagine you are a marionette and a puppeteer is pulling a string connected to the crown of your head straight up. Slide shoulder blades down your back and extend your arms down through your pinkie fingers.
  8. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana / Bridge Pose – Lay back down on your mat. Bring your heels as close as you can toward your butt. Engage your glutes and lift your butt off the floor. Slide a block under your sacrum at the height that feels good to you. Rest into the supported Bridge for at least 5 breaths. You can put one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest to make sure you are taking those deep belly breaths.
  9. Reclined Twist – Removing the block and coming back down to the ground after Bridge Pose, keep your knees bent and gently sway them to the left and then to the right, “windshield wiping” your legs. Extend arms out into a T-shape for stability. You should feel a massage in your lower back. When ready, cross right ankle over left knee and twist to the right. Rest here for a few breaths. You can cactus your arms and look toward your left. When ready, switch sides.
  10. Savasana / Corpse Pose – If you have two blocks and a bolster, you can set yourself up in one of two supported savasana variations. The first is a heart-opening Savasana, with one yoga block set on its middle height to support the head and one yoga black set on its lowest height to support the back with a bolster set at an angle on the blocks for comfort. The second variation is to create a “Stonehenge” like structure with two blocks and a bolster to elevate your lower legs in Savasana. Reference the illustration above. Ideally, you should take 5-10 minutes in Savasana at the end of this practice. When you are done, roll to one side off your props into a fetal position and gently push yourself back up to a seat. Give yourself a hug for doing yoga!

You can download a FREE printable PDF of the illustrated sequence below:

Please let me know if this helps you!

Yoga stick figure notation in the style of Eva Lotta Lamm’s Yoga Notes.