One of the most common things people ask for help with is low back pain. In fact, according to a recent study with the CDC, low back pain is the most common type of pain. The study showed that 25% of people reported low back pain in the last 3 months!!! That’s why I wanted to share some of my favorite yoga poses for low back pain with you.
The low back, or lumbar spine, is one of the most common areas to have pain. To be honest, the low back can get aggravated pretty easily, especially if you do a lot of sitting. In addition to sitting, poor posture, poor body mechanics, repetitive movement, overuse, underuse can all lead to an achey low back.
The problem for most people is that low back pain can effect the work you do, your ability to show up at work and your general health and wellbeing. While everyone’s body and anatomy is unique to them, it’s important to incorporate stretching into your daily routine. With a 60-70% lifetime prevalence of low back pain according to this article from The WHO, understanding your body and ways to find relief is key.
No matter what’s going on, creating space in and around the low back can often provide instant relief. It’s important to note that these poses may not feel good for everyone, that’s why I often recommend Private Yoga Therapy sessions. In addition to our unique anatomy, what we do and the way we use our bodies play a MAJOR role in the cause of our discomfort and also finding a solution.
Private yoga therapy can be an extremely effective way to not only resolve your pain, but understand why it happened and prevent it from happening again.
Knee to Chest Pose
Knee to chest pose is one of the most simple yoga poses for low back pain you can find. I love the accessibility of this pose. You can practice this on your mat or in bed when you wake up!
My recommendation is to move slowly as you explore this pose. In general, this movement helps to relieve tension and create space throughout the low back. When done in coordination with the breath, you can also incorporate using the core to build strength in a gentle way.
Try this pose by lying on your bed, bending your knees and slowly bringing your knees towards your chest. Check out the video below for a visual reference of the movement. If you have any questions, reach out to me here and I’d love to support you.
Bridge pose is a great way to relieve tension, create space in the front of the body and engage the back of the body. My favorite variation of bridge pose is called Rolling Bridge pose. Rolling bridge pose is done by slowly lifting and lowering the hips and spine one vertebrae at a time. This version helps to link your breath and movement: a powerhouse combination for targeting your nervous system.
When practicing Rolling Bridge Pose, explore lifting and lower your spine on the exhalation. This way you can engage your core as you move.
There are a few really specific cues I offer to Rolling Bridge pose depending on what effect we’re going for. As I stated earlier, everyone’s body is different, so the focus of this pose can vary. I offer a lot of variations and discuss this more in depth in my monthly membership program, Aligned Online.
Aligned Online is a yoga therapy membership program that gives you access to over 150+ on-demand classes inside the vault. In addition, you get 8-10 new classes every single month delivered to your inbox and onto the vault! Starting in January 2022, I’ll be adding in an 8-week Yoga Therapy series. The first one of the year begins in January and is called Yoga for a Healthy Back. For more details on Aligned and to join the membership, click here.
Try Rolling Bridge pose by using the video below for a visual aid. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
3-Part Strap Series
What most people don’t realize is that our hamstrings play a big role in the health of our low back. That’s why I love this 3-part strap series. Try this by laying on your back with a yoga strap. Although a yoga strap is perfect for this pose, you can also use a scarf, belt or a tie when you’re in a pinch!
The hamstrings, a muscle group on the back of our upper leg, are attached to the lumbar spine. That means when the hamstrings are really tight, they can pull on the vertebrae of our spine and cause compression. Unfortunately for us, sitting and a lot of exercise activity can cause tightness in our hamstrings.
Whether you have low back pain or just tight hamstrings, try this 3-part strap series for relief. It’s my favorite, and one that I teach often inside my Yoga for a Healthy Back series in Aligned.
Figure 4 Hip Stretch
Piggy-backing off the last paragraph, this stretch is one of my favorites for low back health. In addition to the 3-part stretch above, Figure 4 offers a release in tension on the outside of our hips/glutes. If you sit for extended periods of time or you spend a lot of your time exercising, I highly recommend doing this one regularly.
There are many variations you can explore for this pose, including a gentle rock of the legs side to side, using a block under the bottom foot for support, or doing it against the wall.
Listen to your body, stay for several long, slow breaths, and allow your body to relax as best as you can. If this pose bothers you, or you want to explore it more deeply, simply reach out to me and we can talk about details!
Rolling Cat Cow
This is my go-to pose for everyday living. Traditionally cat/cow is done with two movements. Rolling Cat Cow allows for greater range of motion, and in my opinion, is more versatile than traditional cat/cow. You can do this pose from a table top position or seated in a chair! Hello, office yoga!
Check out the video below for a visual representation of this movement practice. I recommend exhaling as you round your back and inhaling as you arch your back and open the chest. If you have limited movement in your low back, knees or feet, you can lessen your range of motion here.
Give this one a try when you wake up the morning to create space and release tension throughout your back, shoulders and hips. This one is my go-to pose after I’ve been sitting on the computer for a while.
Did you know that the discs between our vertebrae stop receiving nutrients naturally after we reach a certain age? That’s why movement like this is crucial to keep your spine healthy. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Side to Side Childs Pose
After you practice Rolling Cat Cow, you can rest your hips back towards your heels into childs pose. Again, there are many different variations of Childs Pose, so if you have a smaller range of motion, you can still access this pose. If you have questions about that, connect with me here.
In my opinion, this is one of the best yoga poses for low back pain for most people. I will say that if you have tightness or limitation in your hips, feet or low back, try puppy pose instead!
Lateral Bend Variation
What’s interesting is the amount of muscles that play a role in the health of our low back. Similarly to the hamstrings, there is a muscle hat goes up the length of the spine called the Quadratus Lumborum (QL), that also plays a significant part.
When we sit for extended periods of time especially, our QL muscles can get super tight and become short. This lateral bend (side bend) can help to release tension in that area. There are a few movement cues that can really help get into the QL if you don’t feel it initially. I love teaching this pose and different cues for helping our tight QL muscles inside my monthly membership, Aligned Online.
Explore this movement with the visual below and hopefully you’ll understand why it’s one of the best yoga poses for low back pain. Make sure to incorporate long, slow deep breaths to help fascinate a deeper stretch. Our breath actually plays a HUGE role in helping to reduce tension in the muscles especially in this pose. Because we’re targeting the muscles on the side of the body, when you take a deep breath and expand the lungs, our rib cage and muscles connected to our rib cage expand too!
In addition, the breath is directly correlated to our nervous system. When you’re breathing slowly, you can target the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a relaxation response in the body. Take some deep breaths and dive into this pose–seated, standing or in your office chair!
7 Yoga Poses for Low Back Pain
As you can see from this article on the Best Yoga Poses for Low Back Pain, there are so many ways that we can find relief in our low back with different stretches. You can try these poses together in this sequence or you can break them up one-by-one and explore them. Either way, make sure to slow down your breath and pay attention to how your body feels as you move.
Awareness of your body is one of the most important ways to not only be able to resolve pain in your body but prevent discomfort from happening in the future. That’s why I love Yoga therapy. Not only can yoga be therapeutic for resolving pain, but it also teaches us tools for mindfulness and self-awareness. To learn more about yoga therapy, check out my website here.
In addition to stretches, breathing, and mindfulness of your body, correcting your posture is also really important. I recently created two blog posts to help you sit with more ease. This blog post gives you details on how to sit with better posture, and therefore, reduce pain, injuries and disability. I share different ways to relieve pain from sitting in this blog post.
If you’re looking for additional support to help relieve low back pain, recover from an injury, or support better posture and alignment, I offer private yoga therapy coaching. Click here to fill out an intake form so we can hop on a call to see how I can best support you in feeling your best!
Free Healthy Posture Masterclass
Register to join me for a free Healthy Posture Masterclass! I’ll teach you tools to help improve your posture and feel better throughout your daily life!
About the Author
My name is Caitlin, I’m a chronic pain survivor, Certified Yoga Therapist, Registered Dental Hygienist, and founder and CEO of Caitlin Parsons Yoga Therapy, a yoga therapy and wellness company. I recently made my dreams a reality by quitting my full-time job as a dental hygienist to pursue my passion and purpose helping others get back into alignment.
Now I use my personal and professional experiences with chronic pain, stress and anxiety, and injury recovery to help women step back into their own alignment – in their bodies, minds and throughout their lives. I help empower women to create balance in their bodies and minds so they can access greater levels of freedom in their lives inside my monthly membership program (Aligned), group coaching program for hygienists (The Aligned Hygienist), a Yoga + Coaching Program for Dental Teams, and private yoga therapy coaching.
I love to share my knowledge and expertise on mindfulness and therapeutic yoga for back pain through my blog and social media platforms as well as guest appearances on other inspiring and like-minded podcasts.
Client Success Stories
“I started working with Caitlin because I had recently gotten surgery from a brain tumor. I had very little mobility in my shoulder and arm. I was concerned that the lack of mobility, discomfort and reduced strength would increase chances for more pain and injury. Working with Caitlin was amazing, I would recommend her personal approach to anyone. She is dedicated to her work, has great knowledge and communication. Caitlin does a wonderful job guiding you back to your body and yourself.” – Ania
“I started working with Caitlin because I had chronic low back pain and regular flare-ups. I was told by multiple doctors that I would always be in pain and my posture would never improve unless I had surgery. The pain got so bad that I couldn’t play volleyball anymore, which created a negative spiral in my mood, energy and throughout my life. The results I got with Caitlin was amazing. I no longer have chronic pain or chronic acid reflux which I was on medication for. I’m much healthier and happier now than I ever have been!” – Russ M.
“I started working with Caitlin because I had neck pain, shoulder pain, neck congestion and ringing in my ears. I was working a lot, taking care of my family, and I was beginning to spiral downwards in a state of stress and pain. With all of that, life became a chore. I wanted to learn how to take care of myself so I could live a happy life and take care of my responsibilities from a place of joy, not dread. I wanted to get my neck to a place where it wasn’t painful and tightening every time I was stressed.
Now I no longer have neck pain or tightness, I’m stressed and ear ringing has greatly reduced. My body feels so much better as a whole. Caitlin helped me find peace. Caitlin has an innate sense of knowing how to tailor each session to fit how I’m feeling in my body and what I need. Caitlin helped me change the way I react to stress; now I’m more mindful of my reactions and the way I take care of my body. I’m stronger in my body and mind now which has positively affected my entire life.” – Donna M.
“I started working with Caitlin because I was completely disconnected from my body because of a genetic disease, having constant, chronic pain, extreme trouble sleeping and anxiety living in my own skin. I wanted to feel better- I wanted to have less pain and have a better quality of life–building strength and reconnecting with my body were a bonus. Working with Caitlin exceeded my expectations- I sleep so much better now and my pain has improved significantly. I’m less anxious and have practices to help when my symptoms flare. I’m more grounded and embodied, I have a daily yoga practice that continues to build on the foundation Caitlin helped me create.
Caitlin is incredible, she validated me and helped me work on my whole self. She customized everything to work specifically for me. I 100% recommend working with Caitlin. She believed that healing was possible and she held that vision for me and brought it to each session, and eventually I believed and embodied it too. She helped me find the power in every single baby step towards a more whole and healthy life, and I am completely transformed by it. This work isn’t the quick fix, it’s deep, holistic, soul-led healing.” – Hayley
“Working with Caitlin was the best thing I ever did for myself. I thought that I would always have pain because I’ve done so many things to try and help but they haven’t worked, until yoga therapy with Caitlin. Now I am living with less pain, my posture has improved, I am getting stronger, and my clothes are getting looser.” – Joan
“Before I came to Caitlin, I was taking Motrin and Tylenol on a daily basis like clockwork. I would skip going to the pool or out with my family after work due to the pain in my body. I was very depressed and isolating myself from activities that I really enjoy doing with my family and friends. I had pain on a daily basis in my lower back, shoulder blades, hips and left knee. Some days I had so much pain and inflammation in my body I felt like I couldn’t make it through the day.
Since starting FTF I am slowly starting to get control of my pain and inflammation through the online program one-on-one sessions with Caitlin. Inflammation is decreasing, I’m sitting up taller and I’m more aware of my posture both at work and in my daily routines outside of work. I am no longer having to take Motrin and Tylenol on a daily basis and I am able to walk longe distances without pain in my knees. “
“I never thought I would get out of back, knee, and postural pain. I also have a curvature in my back that I have been told most of my life cannot be changed. When I came to Caitlin, I wasn’t playing my favorite sport and I was miserable at work. Even doing simple things was really painful. Caitlin completely personalizes her services based on your needs. She takes considerable time to answer all of my questions and targets my sessions for exactly what I need that day and what my goals are. Caitlin always asks me what is going on and listens really well. She is a wealth of knowledge about yoga, human anatomy, and how humans should move. No two sessions are the same. We changed the way I move while doing simple things like sitting in a car or at my desk, putting dishes away and bending over to clean dog poop so that my back is protected from re-injury. I am healing my back partly to return to playing volleyball. I now understand how to be in my volleyball stances and movements so that I can avoid injury when I get back to playing. I am already standing up much straighter and feel more confident. I never thought I would feel this good in my body and I am so wow-ed by Caitlins mastery of her craft.” – Russel
“Caitlin really knows how to curate yoga program for sustainable strengthening. My shoulders and core used to be weaknesses but after a few sessions I see my posture has improved and the range of motion in my shoulders. She’s caring, fun, and a pleasure to work with. I’d recommend her to anyone interested in trying yoga therapy.”
“Caitlin is fantastic. I’ve gone to many of her classes, specifically those with a focus on healthy backs. I’ve worked with her as a therapist on issues I have with my neck and shoulders from work. She’s patient, attentive and offers focused one-on-one sessions. The exercises I’ve done really help me combat the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day, highly recommend working with this lovely and professional woman!!”
“Caitlin has helped me grow and learn a lot about myself. She helped me realize the strong power of breath when I was over stressed and unaware of my mental needs. Caitlin helped me focus my energy, both good and bad, on my breath. With every deep inhale and cleansing exhale, I felt my stress and anxiety lessen and lessen. Eight years later, my main mantra is to ‘just breathe.’ It has literally changed my life. Along with the power of breath, Caitlin has helped me keep a constant awareness of how I physically hold myself. Not only has my posture changed, but I have also become stronger and my confidence has increased. I recently began running and was having pain in my hip and side leg. Through working with Caitlin, my pain subsided. She put together an easy to follow yoga sequence that helped my muscles and ligaments heal. I fully trust in Caitlin as a yoga professional, and recommend her gentle way of teaching to anyone.”
“This program has been so amazing for my pain. In just one class, my neck and shoulder tension released more than it has in years. This program has been so instrumental in managing and controlling my stress. It’s so easy to be “on the hamster wheel”. I look forward to my yoga time and meditation and have noticed a huge difference in my pain level. My family has even noticed my calmer demeanor. I couldn’t believe how much my pain was linked to my stress.”