Studies show that just one yoga class per week is effective for reducing low back pain. And regularly practicing yoga can make you more limber, relieve stress and potentially eliminate the need for pain medication.
But carving out time for even a single hour-long class during the week can be challenging. This 8-step sequence — focused on loosening up the spine and relieving tension in the low back — only takes 10 minutes and you can easily do it at home.
Sit on the floor and cross your legs. Lift your chin so that it’s level with the floor. Relax your shoulders. Lengthen your spine by reaching the top of your head toward the ceiling — without over-arching your back. Rest your hands on your thighs.
Breathe deep, guttural breaths for 20 seconds — in through the nose and out though the mouth. (Saying “Ahhhh” as you breathe out is a great stress reliever.)
Now exhale and — as you do — round forward slowly. You should be trying to rest your forehead on the floor in front of you. Relax your neck. Rest your hands in front of your crossed legs.
Remember: Deep breathing is key for relieving tension. Breathe in deeply and each time you exhale you should feel your low back loosen up a bit.
Do this for about 30 seconds, or for as long as you feel comfortable. Then cross your legs in the opposite direction and repeat.
Go back up to a neutral seated, cross-legged position. Breathe in, and as you exhale gently twist to the left. Rest your right arm against outside of your left knee. Your left hand should be touching the floor behind you and you should be looking behind you.
Reach the top of you head toward the ceiling, engage your core and relax your shoulders.
Spend 30 seconds doing this then do the same on the opposite side.
Come up from this stretch to the same seated, cross-legged position. Inhale and raise your arms above your head until they “clap” together. As you exhale lower your left hand to the floor and arc your right arm to the left.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Breathe in and raise your hands to meet over your head again. As you exhale switch sides and lower your right arm while arcing your left one.
Now you should be ready for the sequence.
Downward Facing Dog
Start with downward facing dog: Hands and feet on the floor and your body shaped like an inverted V.
A few tips: Push gently on your hands so that your backside is reaching up and back. That will help to stretch your spine.
Do not lock your knees, but instead bend them gently.
You should not be straining to stay upright in this pose. If you feel too much pressure on your arms make adjustments until you feel more balanced.
Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.
Use this pose as way to reset between subsequent poses.
From down dog gently lower your knees the ground. Adjust your position until you are on all fours. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders and your knees aligned with your hips.
Breathe in and drop your back down toward the floor as you look up toward the ceiling and curl in your toes.
Breathe fully and deeply, and as you exhale round your back so that it is going up as far as it can. The tops of your feet should rest flat on the floor.
Repeat 10 times then move briefly into downward facing dog.
From down dog slowly and gently lower your knees to the ground. Then move your backside toward the floor as you fan your knees out slightly.
Slowly lower your upper body while reaching your arms straight forward. Rest your forehead on the floor.
You can keep your arms off the floor and engaged for a deeper spine stretch or simply rest your hands on the floor.
Stay in this pose — and breathe deeply — for as long as you want but 30-60 seconds should provide a benefit.
Eye Of The Needle
Now lie down on your back and rest with your arms and legs fanned out on the floor for around 20 seconds.
When you’re ready pull both knees toward your chest so they end up at about a 90° angle to the floor.
Now take your right leg and cross it so that it’s resting on your left thigh just below the knee. Be sure the area of your leg above your ankle is resting on the thigh — not the ankle itself.
Make sure your back, neck and head are all resting flat on the floor. Pull forward gently on the left leg while pushing down on your right knee.
Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Two Knee Twist
Moving from “Eye of the Needle” go back into a resting pose with your arms and legs spread out for 20 seconds or so.
Move your arms out to the side so that from above you are shaped like a T. The backs of your hands should rest flat on the floor.
Bring your knees back to that 90° angle toward your chest then slowly, carefully twist so that your knees drop to your left side. As they drop turn your head in the opposite direction.
Hold for 20-30 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.
When you are finished, lie back on your back with your arms and legs fanned out to rest for a few minutes.
Get back into the seated crossed legged position you started in and breathe slowly before you get up.
Think about this as a gentle beginning — something you can add to as you progress.
Later, you can add deeper poses like pigeon, upward facing dog, goddess and others.
Try doing this sequence right when you wake up so that your plans don’t get derailed. And, if possible, do it again about an hour before bed.
If your day currently doesn’t include any stretching at all even one sequence should provide a benefit.
Are you facing backpain? Contact us online or give us a call at 323-319-2897 and we will be happy to help.