Sitting at a desk all day can cause major tightness and compression in the lower back. It can even throw your entire lower body out of alignment! These yoga moves can ease those muscles and prevent a world of lower back pain.
Ask anyone what their biggest ailment is at the end of the day and you’ll more than likely hear them say “my back.” In fact, according to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the second most common reason for doctor visits. Half of all working Americans have back pain symptoms every year, and most of the causes aren’t from serious conditions (a.k.a, it’s likely from being hunched over your computer). It’s our lot in desk life, but thankfully there are ways to counteract those aches and tightness. (Try these 5 easy ways to beat back pain.)
Enter yoga—specifically, poses for your lower back—that will open up your hips and loosen your hamstrings for major relief to your spine. Exercise in general is a huge help to back maladies, according to a 2016 study in JAMA Internal Medicine. So get cracking with these moves and heal the damage from the daily grind in no time. (See also: 10 Yoga Poses for a Strong Back)
Total Time: up to 30 minutes
1. Seated Side Bend
Begin in easy pose with legs crossed and arms relaxed on either side of you.
Reach left arm long to the ceiling, on the side of face, shoulder away from ear.
Take right hand to the ground and crawl it over to the right, allowing right forearm to move toward the ground. Then lean torso to the right.
Keeping left hip routing toward the ground, use each inhale to lengthen through left side waist, and each exhale to revolve chest open toward the ceiling.
Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
If you're skeptical about your mat work really being able to help that lingering lower back pain, research has proven that both yoga and acupuncture can do the trick.
2. Cat / Cow
Come to all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
Inhale and look up with an arched spine, rolling shoulders away from ears for cow pose.
As you exhale, press the floor away with hands and knees, and round your spine, like an angry cat.
Do at least 5 complete breath cycles (5 inhales/cows and 5 exhales/cats).
3. Pigeon with Side Bend
Begin in down dog. Bring right shin forward, as close to parallel to the front edge of the mat as it can get, with right knee toward right wrist and right ankle toward left wrist.
With back leg extended long behind you and toes tucked, lower hips to the ground.
Crawl hands forward until head is on the ground for a regular pigeon pose.
Once hips feel grounded here, crawl arms long and over to the right, keeping top of left thigh and left toes connected to the ground.
Breathe here for at least 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
4. Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Begin in a seated position. Extend left leg long and place right foot inside of left thigh.
Take a big inhale to reach your right arm up toward the ceiling and an exhale to tip over to the left.
Allow your left shoulder to release inside left thigh, and take left hand to hold bent right knee.
If it is available to you today, take right hand to outer edge of your left foot to give more leverage to twist.
Breathe here for 3 to 5 deep breaths. Use each inhale to lengthen out your spine, and each exhale to open your chest to the ceiling a bit more. Repeat on the other side.
5. Gate Pose
Begin on hands and knees. With top of right foot on the ground, wing right shin to the right so that it's perpendicular to left shin.
Spin left heel to the ground so foot comes flat with the outer edge parallel to the back of the mat, in line with right knee.
Transfer weight into right shin and left foot, and bring torso upright over hips.
Release left hand to left shin, reach right arm to the ceiling, then use the exhale to side bend in left side waist and tip to the left.
Keep left foot as is, or flex toes toward ceiling (as pictured) if available to you.
Revolve chest slightly to open it toward the ceiling and breathe here for 3 to 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
6. Easy Seated Spinal Twist
Begin seated in staff pose with legs long and in front of you. Bend right knee and place right foot on the ground outside left thigh.
Turn torso to the right and take right hand to the ground behind sacrum.
Gently hug right leg with left arm to twist. Use each inhale to lengthen spine, and use each exhale to press into the ground and twist. Keep this breathing pattern for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
A lot of lower back pain can stem from weak core muscles, so prevent the pain in the first place with this yoga flow for a rock-solid core.
7. Supine Spinal Twist with Eagle Legs
Start by lying on back. Bend both knees in toward chest and cross right leg over left once, and then twice if possible, crossing right foot behind left ankle for eagle legs.
Scoot hips to the right and allow knees to fall to the left.
Keep both shoulders on the ground, take left hand to outer right thigh, and reach right arm out to the side. Look to the right.
Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.