Ever since the Covid-19 lockdowns extended the work-from-home lifestyle, back pain has become the most common problem owing to the long hours of sitting before a laptop or moving around too much to juggle household chores. The lower back has become the most sensitive part of the body and that is when Yoga steps in to provide great relief and also to prevent any more damage.
From strengthening the abdominal and pelvic muscles which improve the posture to loosening stiffness in the body which reduces pain, Yoga is a great way to avoid medications as it has all the defences against back pain. Experiencing lower back pain? Yoga therapy has the power to treat not only back pain but also the stress that accompanies it.
Here are 5 Yoga asanas to strengthen your lower back, release stress and improve flexibility of the spine:
1. Setubhandhasana/Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or the Bridge pose
Method: Lie down on your back with legs straight on the floor, palms beside your thighs. Bend both your knees while keeping the legs and hips apart and bring the heels closer to the hips.
Inhale and lift your stomach and chest up by taking your hips off the floor. Give support to your lower back with your hands. Now straighten your legs with your toes pointing in the front. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds and release.
Benefits: This variation also known as the Bridge pose stretches the chest, neck and spine. It not only strengthens the back, buttock and hamstrings but also increases blood circulation, alleviates stress and calms the brain.
2. Virabhadrasana II or the Warrior Pose 2
Method: Stand up with legs 4 to 5 feet apart. Place your right foot at 90 degrees angle with the toes pointing out while keeping your left foot at 45 degrees angle. Bring your hands at shoulder level and keep them parallel to ground.
Bend your right knee and look towards your right hand. Keep your hip-square and right thigh parallel to the ground. Hold onto the pose for 10 to 15 seconds, then release the posture.
Benefits: Virabhadrasana or the Warrior Pose 2 energies tired limbs and opens up your chest and lungs apart from stretching your hips, groins and shoulders and improving stability and balance. It also stimulates your abdominal organs.
3. Sukhasana or easy pose
Method: Sit on a Yoga mat or on the floor with your legs stretched out. Bend one of your legs and place it under the opposite thigh and repeat the same with the other leg.
Sit erect, keep your head, neck and trunk aligned in a straight line, put your hands on your knees or thighs in Chin Mudra or Jnana Mudra. Turn your palms up to be receptive or down to feel grounded and inhaling slowly, feel your spine grow long while on exhaling, root down through your seat.
Benefits: Apart from finding stillness and tranquility, this asana relieves muscle and joint pains as it helps the practitioner in maintaining a good posture, gives flexibility, keeps the back straight and provides strength to the legs. This in turn lengthens the back muscles and spine, broadens the collarbones and chest, stretches the external aspect of the knees and unlocks the hips.
4. Marjariasana or the cat pose
Method: Stand on all fours to form a table top with your back while your hands and feet from its legs. Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor and place your hands flat on the floor, right under your shoulders while keeping your knees hip-width apart. Look straight ahead, inhale and raise your chin as you tilt your head backwards.
Put stress on the spine, push your navel down while raising your tailbone and compress your buttocks by so that the back can turn into a concave shape. Hold the pose for a few seconds as you take long deep breaths.
Exhale, drop your chin to your chest and leave it between the arms facing the thighs as you stretch your spine in the upward direction and relax your buttocks. Hold the breath for 3 seconds then, go back to the tabletop position.
Benefits: Marjariasana is called the cat pose and gives the body an amazing feline stretch while strengthening the shoulders and wrists. It massages the digestive organs and also stretches, strengthens and adds flexibility to the spine which is useful because the back has to support more weight as the pregnancy advances.
Precautions: This exercise is not recommended for those having any kind of head or knee injury. During pregnancy, one should stretch the abdomen only mildly and be careful to not stretch the body beyond its limits.
5. Bhujangasana or Cobra pose
Method: Lie down flat on your stomach. Rest your palms by the side of your chest, arms close to your body, elbows pointing outward. Inhale and raise your forehead, neck and shoulders.
Raise your trunk using the strength of your arms. Look upward while breathing normally. Make sure that your stomach is pressed on the floor. Hold the pose for 5 seconds. Slowly lie back flat on your stomach. Turn your head to one side and rest your arms by the side of your body.
Benefits: The reclining back-bending asana of Yoga called Bhujangasana or Cobra pose strengthens the spine, butt, butt muscles, chest, abdomen, shoulders, lungs and improves blood circulation while also releasing the stress in one’s body.