~Daily yoga routine to ease lower back pain~

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common reasons I see patients in the clinic on a daily basis. There are so many different causes and contributing factors to LBP. What we do know is that in most cases, exercise can improve pain, mobility and function. I have put together a yoga routine designed at easing low back pain, improving hip flexibility and that overall just makes you feel good! This routine is safe to perform during pregnancy as well with modifications as needed. I like to perform this routine with my little one as you will see in some of the pictures below!  As always, make sure you discuss any exercise program with your doctor first before beginning. If you are pregnant, I recommend avoiding deep spinal twists ( especially during the first trimester) and deep backbends as your pregnancy progresses. Once you are past your first trimester you want to avoid exercises where you are lying flat on your back for extended periods of time. You can easily modify these poses by propping yourself up with a few blankets or pillows so you are not flat on your back.  There are so many different opinions on practicing inversions during pregnancy. I have many yogi friends who practiced inversions throughout and had no problems. I personally chose to avoid inversions during my first trimester but did practice them during my second and third trimesters. The thought process  is to be extra careful during your first trimester as the fetus is attaching to the uterine wall, so you don’t want to cause any disruption. Again, this is your personal decision. Legs up the wall as I have demonstrated here is a nice  gentle inversion to ease LBP and a safe way to incorporate an inversion into your practice.

Follow along with the routine below. All you need is a yoga mat. If you have any knee or hip trouble, you may want to also use some blankets for props to protect your joints.

  • Cat/Cow
    • Begin on hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, spine in neutral. Inhale as you slowly extend your spine: gently arching your back as you squeeze your shoulder blades together and look up towards the ceiling. Exhale and slowly round your back towards the sky as you draw your navel in towards your spine and tuck your chin to your chest. Repeat this for 5 rounds.
      • If you have any wrist discomfort or injuries you can bring your hands into a fist position to decrease stress on your wrists
      • If you have any knee problems or concerns place a blanket under your knees for support
      • If you are pregnant, avoid excessive extension during the “cat” portion of the pose: do not let your back arch too far to avoid placing extra stress on your spine and abdomen
  • Child’s Pose
    • Begin on hands and knees on your yoga mat. Gently sit back onto your heels as you walk your hands forward until you feel a stretch in your lower back/hips. If you have any knee trouble you can place a blanket in between your buttock and your heels for support. Hold for 10 full breaths ( a full inhale and exhale through your nose).
      • If you’re pregnant, spread your knees slightly to accommodate your growing belly
  • Upward facing Dog
    • Lie on your stomach on your mat, placing your hands on the floor at shoulder height. Press through your hands to lift your chest up and forward, lengthening your torso as your lift, drawing your shoulders down and back. Keep your elbows soft and shoulders down away from your ears. Make sure to keep your navel drawn in towards your spine. Hold for 10 full breaths
      • If you are in the second or third trimesters of pregnancy this may be difficult to perform so you can skip this one as it may be uncomfortable for you
  • Downward facing Dog
    • Begin on hands and knees. Spread your fingertips and press your hands into your mat as your lift your hips into an inverted “V.” Squeeze your thighs and press your heels down towards the ground. Relax your neck as your keep your eye gaze towards your navel and think about bringing your chest towards your thighs as your lift your tailbone to the sky. Try not to round your back. If you notice that your back is rounding, place a slight bend in your knees. Hold for 10 full breaths
  • Crescent lunge
    • Begin in in a high lunge position: with your front knee bent ( making sure your knee does not extend over your toes) and back knee straight; toes facing forward. Lower your back knee down to the floor, making sure you are not directly on your knee cap. You can place a blanket or towel under your knee for comfort.  Draw your navel in towards your spine and lift your chest up as you raise your arms overhead as shown. You should feel a stretch in the front of your thigh on the leg that is down. Hold for 10 full breaths on each leg
  • Pyramid with blocks
    • Stand with your feet slightly longer than hip distance apart, staggering your feet slightly for better balance and keeping your toes facing forward. Place a yoga block or a few books on each side of your front foot. Keeping your back straight and chest lifted, slowly bend forward at the waist ( keeping your knees straight) until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh ( of your front leg). Hold for 10 full breaths on each side
  • Camel
    • Start in a kneeling position, relaxing the tops of your feet. Place your hands on your lower back for support to start and gently push your hips forward, lifting your chest and keeping your chin slightly tucked. Gently arch backwards until a stretch is felt in your lower back. You can place a blanket under your knees for support if you have any discomfort.  To deepen this pose as shown below, you can reach back for your heels. If you have any lower back problems, I recommend you keep your hands on your lower back for support.  Hold for 10 breaths
  • Figure 4
    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place one foot over the opposite knee and grab behind the leg that is on the ground with your hands and pull it towards you until you feel a stretch on the outside of your hip. You can gently push your knee out to the side to increase the stretch if you desire. Hold for 10 full breaths on each side
  • Seated forward fold
    • Sit on your yoga mat legs extended out in front of you; knee slightly bent. Keeping your navel drawn in towards your spine, inhale as your raise your arms overhead and bend forward at the waist keeping your spine straight until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs. If you have any lower back trouble you can always bend more at the knees to take any stress off your back. This is a great place to use your strap around your feet if you are unable to touch your toes as shown here. Hold for 10 breaths
  • Supported bridge
    • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Drawing your navel in towards your spine, lift your hips up off your mat and slide your block underneath your sacrum ( the lower part of your back). You can change the height of the block by turning it depending on how much of  a backbend you would like. In this picture I have the block at the highest setting to feel more of a release in my lower back. Let your hips rest on the block and try to relax the rest of your body. This is a great way to decrease back pain, gently stretch the spine and open  the front of your hips.  Hold for 10 breaths
  • Supine spinal twist
    • Lie on your back with your legs extended out in front of you. Bring one knee up towards your chest so that your hip is flexed to 90 degrees. With the opposite hand, gently grab on to the outside of your knee and pull it across your body until a stretch is felt in the lower back and buttock. Make sure you keep your shoulders flat on the ground during the stretch.  Hold for 10 breaths on each side
  • Legs up the wall
    • This is a gentle inversion that is wonderful for relaxing and relieving low back pain. To perform: sit sideways a few inches away from the wall. As you turn to lie on your back, gently bring your legs to the wall, resting your feet on the wall. Close your eyes and relax for  a few minutes!

I hope you enjoy this routine and it eases your lower back discomfort!

Suffering from sciatic nerve pain? Check out my blog post on best exercises for relieving sciatica here!

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