Yoga is a practice that helps with back strength and flexibility. It’s a wonderful way to reduce lower and upper back pain. Before you head to your local studio, there are some things you’ll want to know--mostly how to stay safe and injury free. Read on for how soothe your back and also protect it from further injury.
Yoga’s Benefits

Yoga’s postures help teach your body to lengthen and strengthen, reducing muscle tension and gaining tone and flexibility. That’s why it’s good for back pain. Yoga is wonderful at supporting the muscles in the back and spine. That’s not all, the controlled movements and proper breathing technique help reduce stress and anxiety, which can be a cause of back tension and pain.
The Risks

While yoga is really beneficial for the back, there are risks associated with any physical practice. The majority of injuries occur when practitioners don’t follow proper form and speed. Instead of lengthening into a pose, a person might drop into it, getting injured from the quick motion. It would be like straining your body while lifting weights, instead of doing a continuous, controlled movement. In yoga you’ll want to use your muscles in a slow fashion and only press into the pose as far as is comfortable for your body.
Tips to Protect Your Back

  • Don’t twist and extend at the same time.
  • Rely on props--blocks or bolsters--when you need extra support.
  • Use a yoga belt if you can’t reach your toes or ankle.
  • Do forward bends sitting, instead of standing.
  • Ask for help modifying a pose when it doesn’t feel comfortable.
Top Three Poses for Back Pain

  1. Child’s pose. Start on your hands and knees. Sit back so your glutes rest above your heels, arms stretched out straight in front of you. Hold for five to ten breaths.
  2. Cat and Cow pose. Start on all fours. Move into Cat pose by pushing your spine up and arching your back toward the ceiling. Move into Cow pose by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blade back and lifting your head. Hold each pose for a few breaths, and move through the sequence a few times.
  3. Seated Spinal Twist. Start in a sitting position, bringing your left foot to your right knee or hip. Extend your right arm overhead, then hook your right elbow outside your left knee and look over your left shoulder. Hold for three breaths and repeat on the opposite side.