Yoga is a low-impact, effective way to relax tight muscles and build strength—which can help relieve lower back pain. Try these 3 beginner-level poses and see if you find relief. Remember to take it slow and stop if the pain gets worse.

Yoga can help to strengthen and strech the lower back muscles, alleviating tension and pain.
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How Yoga Helps the Back

Sphinx pose

The sphinx pose puts your lower back muscles in a more relaxed position and is sometimes recommended for people who have sciatica pain from a herniated disc. You need to lie on the ground, so use a yoga mat or thick towel.

  1. Lie flat on your stomach with your legs straight. Keep your forearms on the ground next to you, tucked in close to your sides.
  2. On an inhale, tighten your legs and raise your chest off the ground by pushing with your arms. Your forearms and palms should stay on the ground.
  3. Your hips, legs, and feet should maintain contact with the ground, and your elbows should be aligned directly under your shoulders.
  4. Hold this pose for 5 seconds, then gently lower your torso back to the ground.

See Exercise for Sciatica from a Herniated Disc

Repeat this pose as you are comfortable. Gradually work your way up to 30 seconds per repetition.

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Cat/cow pose

Cat and cow are 2 different yoga poses, but they are typically practiced together. Here’s how to do them:

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Align your arms straight under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Look at the floor, keeping your head straight in line with your torso and spine.

Move into the cat pose:

  1. Round your back, lifting your spine toward the ceiling.
  2. Your eyes will face your belly.

After a breath, move into the cow pose:

  1. Slowly lift your chest and tailbone toward the ceiling, letting your stomach sink toward the ground.
  2. Your eyes will look up toward the ceiling.
  3. After another breath, gently return to the cat pose.
  4. Repeat these motions a few times or until you feel adequately stretched.

Together, these poses form a gentle yet effective stretch for your lower back.

See Healing Benefits of Yoga

Modified down dog pose

Downward-facing dog is a popular yoga pose, but it can be difficult to perform, especially for people with painful hand or wrist conditions. Here’s a modified version that may be gentler on the body:

  1. Stand and face a wall. Place your hands on the wall between waist and chest level. Set your feet hips-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and slowly walk away from the wall, keeping your hips over your feet and your hands pressed against the wall.
  3. Stop in place once your arms form a straight line with your spine, keeping your back as flat as possible.
  4. You should feel a stretch through your back.
  5. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then slowly walk forward to come out of the pose.

This pose helps lengthen your back muscles.

See Pulled Back Muscle and Lower Back Strain

Not all of these yoga poses may ease your lower back pain, so experiment and see which ones work best for you. If any of these poses worsen your pain, talk to your doctor immediately.

Learn more:

Stretching for Back Pain Relief

Pilates Exercise and Back Pain

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