Health & Fitness

5 Yoga Asanas to Relieve Back Pain

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Ustra-asana – Camel Pose

Benefits:

Boosts mood and energy

Strengthens the back

Stimulates the sympathetic nervous system

Helps counteract damage of bad posture

Relieves back pain & Re-aligns the spine

Promotes proper kidney function

Helps with digestive function,

Eliminating constipation and flatulence

Instruction

Come to your knees, with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips, with your thumbs on your sacrum, the bony plate at the base of your spine. Keep your hips over your knees and internally rotate your thighs, squeezing them toward each other. Inhale to engage your lower belly and reach your tailbone toward your knees, creating space between your lower vertebrae.

On another inhalation, lift your sternum and draw your elbows toward each other, allowing your rib cage to expand.  Keep your chest raised, your core engaged, your spine long, and your chin tucked as you drop your hands toward your heels.

Press the heels of your hands into the heels of your feet while draping the fingers over the soles. Keep lifting through your sternum. Now lift your shoulders to allow the trapezius muscles between the shoulder blades to rise up and cushion your cervical spine. Gently lower the head and neck and gaze at the tip of your nose.

To exit the posture, bring your chin back toward your chest and your hands to your hips with your thumbs on your sacrum. Engage your lower belly and use your hands to support your lower back as you come up slowly.

Trikon-asan –  Extended Triangle Pose

Benefits:

The triangle pose strengthens your back and strengthens the muscle along your outer hip.

Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves; shoulders, chest and spine

Helps relieve stress

Improves digestion

Relieves backache, especially through second trimester of pregnancy

Instructions

Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.  Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle.

Exhale and extend your torso to the right directly over the plane of the right leg, bending from the hip joint, not the waist. Anchor this movement by strengthening the left leg and pressing the outer heel firmly to the floor. Rotate the torso to the left, keeping the two sides equally long. Let the left hip come slightly forward and lengthen the tailbone toward the back heel.

Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the torso. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at the left thumb.

Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, strongly pressing the back heel into the floor and reaching the top arm toward the ceiling. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

Bal-asana / Shishu-asana  –  Child Pose

Benefits:

Gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles

Relaxes you spine, shoulders and neck

Increases blood circulation to your head which reduces headaches

Calms the mind (central nervous system) thus helping relieve stress and tension

Deeply relaxing for the back

Instructions

Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.

Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.

Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.

Balasana is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use Balasana to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. Stay in the pose from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.

Dhanur-asan  — Bow Pose

Benefits:

Strengthens the back and abdominal muscles

Opens up the chest, neck and shoulders

Tones the leg and arm muscles

Relieves menstrual discomfort and constipation

Helps people with renal (kidney) disorders

Instructions

This pose is so called because it looks like an archer’s bow, the torso and legs representing the body of the bow, and the arms the string.

Lie on your belly with your hands alongside your torso, palms up. Exhale and bend to bring your knees with your heels close to your buttocks. Reach back to hold on to your ankles (but not the tops of the feet). Make sure your knees aren’t wider than the width of your hips for the duration of the pose.

Inhale and strongly lift your heels away from your buttocks while lifting your thighs away from the floor. This will have the effect of pulling your upper torso and head off the floor.  As you continue lifting the heels and thighs higher, press your shoulder blades firmly against your back to open your chest. Draw the tops of the shoulders away from your ears. Gaze forward.    Stay in this pose anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds. Release as you exhale, and lie quietly for a few breaths. You can repeat the pose once or twice more.

Adho Mukha Svan-asana – Downward Facing Dog

Benefits:

Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches and hands

Strengthens the arms and legs

Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause

Relieves back pain

Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis

Instructions

Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.

Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.

Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis. Firm the outer arms and press the bases of the index fingers actively into the floor. From these two points lift along your inner arms from the wrists to the tops of the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang.

Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It is also an excellent yoga asana on its own. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Then bend your knees to the floor with an exhalation and rest in Child’s Pose.

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