Whether it’s due to working at a desk, carrying/lifting children, slouching when we stand or any number of other reasons, ‘non-specific’ lower back pain is so widespread today.
This simple sequence will give you much-needed relief. You can do it at any time of the day.
If you have very little time, just do the first and/or last pose.
If you have a medical condition involving your back, please consult your healthcare advisor before doing this sequence.
1. Half downward-facing dog
For the gentlest possible start, take the position in this photo. You can see how length is created in the spine in this fully supported, effortless, restorative version of half downward-facing dog. It feels great.
Feet are parallel and hips-width apart.
Fold forwards from the hips, not the waist which will round the back. Use blankets if you need to raise the top of the table so that you fold from the crease between the bottom of your torso and the top of your legs.
Stay here for 5-10 breaths in and out. You can have the head straight, with your forehead resting on your hands or turned to one side and then the other for the same number of breaths. Whichever feels most natural and comfortable for you.
For a more active version in which you will feel your legs, arms, core and deep back muscles work, try one of the two options below.
Only go down as far as feels comfortable. If you go too low without the strength to sustain the pose you will feel the strain and are likely to collapse somewhere along the spine. You don’t want any compressed curves in your back, just a nice long spine. Engage your abdominal and front thigh muscles. Press into the wall through your palms and down into the ground through the soles of your feet.
Again, stay for 5-10 breaths here. To exit the pose, walk slowly towards the wall.
2. Knees to chest
Draw one knee in to your chest, stay there for 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side. This will give a sense of length in your lower back and possibly a sense of space further up the spine or elsewhere in the back too.
Then rest for 3 breaths with both knees bent and the hands resting limply on top, without drawing the knees towards you.
To exit, roll over to one side before coming slowly back up to sitting and standing.
3. Reclining twist
This gives a wonderful sense of undoing and spaciousness in the lower back.
Once lying down, bend your knees so that your knees are above your heels. The feet are parallel and hips-width apart. Allow the knees to fall to one side and the head to turn in the opposite direction if this is comfortable for the neck.
It is not important whether the knees touch the floor or not (they probably won’t). You can slot a cushion between your knees if that feels good. Stay for 5 breaths.
For the other side, breathe in, engage your abdominal muscles and press down through the soles of your feet to bring the knees back to centre before repeating the other way.
To exit, bring the knees and head carefully back to centre again before rolling over to one side and gently coming back up to sitting and standing.
4. Put your feet up
Finally, rest and settle. The height of the chair should allow you to have your pelvis comfortably flat on the floor, giving support to your lower back. Hands can be open as in this photo, or rest on the tummy. Stay for 5-10 breaths.
To exit, draw the knees in to your chest, roll over to one side, and slowly come up to sitting and then standing. Feels better, doesn’t it?
If you feel ready to strengthen and encourage the suppleness of your back on another occasion, you can see my tips for 3 basic yoga backbends that will do just that here.
Yoga is a great way of keeping your back in good shape and preventing pain in the future.
Please feel free to share this with any friends who would also benefit from some simple, self-directed lower back relief. You’re welcome to leave a comment below if you found this helpful. I hope so.
Photos: author’s own