By Carolina Cuartas - September 8, 2019
Downward & Upward-Facing Dog Stretches
Lower back pain is one of the most common issues among our clients. In fact, back pain affects about four in five Americans at some point in their lives and equally strikes men and women (Source). Most times lower back pain is the result of strain from overuse or excessive lifting. By adding these essential yoga poses to your daily routine can help prevent and alleviate pain.
"Upward: Start by lying flat on the floor with your palms face down by the middle of your ribs. While drawing your legs together and pressing the tops of your feet into the floor, use the strength of your back to lift your chest off the floor. Leave your legs extended straight out at first. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as needed.
Downward: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Pressing back, raise your knees away from the floor and lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling. For an added hamstring stretch, gently push your heels toward the floor. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat the pose five to seven times" (Source).
Targets: lower back, chest, core, and neck.
These poses are a perfect way to warm up and regulate your breath. They are also great for stretching your chest and back and improving posture.
"Starting in an all-fours position, move into Cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up and arching your back. Hold for a few seconds and then move to Cow by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. Moving back and forth from Cat to Cow helps move your spine onto a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension. Repeat 10 times, flowing smoothly from Cat into Cow, and Cow back into Cat. Repeat the sequence as needed" (Source).
Targets: hips, back, thighs, and ankles.
Usually done after Cobra pose, this pose helps stabilize the spine and elongate the back. In addition, it is great for de-stressing and soothing the brain.
"Start on all fours with your arms stretched out straight in front of you, then sit back so your glutes (butt muscles) come to rest just above — but not touching — your heels. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed for a good, soothing stretch" (Source).
Targets: hip rotators and flexors, lower back, and glutes.
Since tight hips can worsen lower back pain, it’s important to add this to your flow. This moderate level pose works deep into aids in stretching the glutes and hamstrings by working the connective tissue. In addition, it helps increase range of motion and work often-ignored areas.
Pigeon pose, which can be a little challenging for yoga newbies, stretches hip rotators and flexors. It may not seem like the most obvious position to treat a backache, but tight hips can contribute to lower back pain.
"Start in Downward-Facing Dog with your feet together. Then draw your left knee forward and turn it out to the left so your left leg is bent and near perpendicular to your right one; lower both legs to the ground. You can simply keep your back right leg extended straight behind you, or for an added hamstring stretch — seasoned Pigeon posers, only! — carefully pull your back foot off the ground and in toward your back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed (Source)"
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