Part Two: A Short Yoga Sequence To Relieve Back Tension

Part Two: A Short Yoga Sequence To Relieve Back Tension

Yoga to relieve back tension

9 Gentle and Restorative Yoga Poses to Realign the Lumbar Region

Part one of this blog focused on gently stretching the spine in all six directions to relieve low back pain. Part two of this blog will focus on balancing the over-stretched and under-stretched muscles of the lumbar region. Pain is created in this region from poor posture, sitting for long hours, or tight muscles pulling or compressing in this area due to improper alignment.

Benefits of practicing this sequence:

  • The pelvis comes back to neutral
  • Muscle strain is relieved by either stretching or slackening the muscle imbalances in the low back and pelvis area
  • Muscle imbalances are released and low back pain is relieved.

For maximum benefit and relief, practice the sequences of part one and from this instructional yoga blog alternately twice per week (total of four practices per week).

To practice:

  • Find a quiet place with no distractions
  • You will need 1 bolster and 2 blankets or, if no bolster is available, 4 blankets.

Supported ½ Moon
Supported half moon pose - modification - arm over ear, knees together
Supported half moon pose - modification - arms on hip
Supported half moon pose - modification - arm over ear, knees staggered
Supported half moon pose - modification - arms in front
  • Place your bolster or 1 to 2 folded blankets horizontally on the earth. Sit with the right hip up against the support
  • Place a folded blanket on the earth for a support under the head – about 12 inches away from the horizontal support
  • Inhale, lengthen the ribs and as you exhale, lay the side body on the horizontal support. Lengthen the bottom arm out in front of you on the earth and rest the head on the blanket support
  • Either stack the knees on top of each other with a blanket support between the knees and ankles or stagger the legs, scissoring the top leg back for more stretch
  • Inhale the top arm up and over the head. Rest the hand palm down (if this is too much stretch for the top shoulder, rest the arm out in front of you under another one of your blankets)
  • Close the eyes and drop right into deep breaths
  • Use every inhale to expand the side body and every exhale to gently let go of tension
  • To release: draw knees together if they were apart and press the top hand into the bolster or blanket roll to come up to seated. Turn to face away from the support and continue to turn, coming into the other side

Belly Down ½ Frog Pose

belly-down-half-frog

  • From hands and knees, clear away any props and slowly lie down on your stomach
  • Bend the right knee and bring it in line with the hip (the leg will be at a right angle)
  • Rest the head to the right and rest the arms comfortably by your side
  • Close the eyes and breathe for 15-20 breaths
  • To release: straighten the bent leg, turn the head to the left
  • Bend the left knee, bringing it in line with the hip
  • To release: straighten the bent leg and slowly come back onto hands and knees

Table Pose – Cat / Cow Tilts
table pose - neutral spine
restorative yoga for low back pain - cow pose
restorative yoga for low back pain - cat pose
  • Come onto hands and knees, (if there is discomfort in the knees, place a blanket under them for more padding) stacking wrists under shoulders, knees under hips
  • Inhale, drop the belly and arch the low back. Pull the ribs and chest forward and if its okay for the neck, gaze up toward sky
  • As you exhale, round the back, press up through the back of the shoulder blades and gaze down
  • Practice 10 – 15 rounds, coming to a neutral spine to reset

Table Pose – Quad Stretch
table pose - neutral spine
restorative yoga for low back pain - cat pose
  • On hands and knees with a neutral spine, lengthen the right leg back and reach out through the toes
  • Inhale, bend the leg, and exhale reach for the top of the foot with the left hand (if grabbing the foot isn’t accessible, place a strap around the top of the foot and reach for the strap)
  • Draw the foot or strap in close to the buttocks to open the front of the thigh muscle (if you have the foot in your hand and want more stretch, kick the leg up, pressing the foot into the hand and hand into the foot)
  • Breathe for 10-15 cycles of breath and slowly release. Repeat for left side

Supported Child’s Pose

Therapeutic Yoga For Low Back Pain - Supported Childs Pose

Therapeutic yoga for low back pain - modified downward facing dog - left
Therapeutic yoga for low back pain - modified downward facing dog - right
  • On hands and knees, place a bolster or 4 folded blankets (blankets folded to the shape of a bolster) vertically on the earth in front of you
  • Open the knees out to the edges of the support, as you draw the big toes together and sink the hips back to the heels (place another blanket on top of the heels if there is discomfort in the knees)
  • Inhale and as you exhale, draw the support back between the knees and lay the chest and torso down on the support. Hips are resting down toward the heels. Turn the head to one side
  • Be sure the chest is level with the hips; remove or stack up more blankets as needed
  • Rest with the head turned to one side for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn it to the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes. (If you are unable to turn the neck to one side, rest a pillow on the support for the forehead to rest on. Be extremely mindful to not overstretch or crank out the neck with a support that is too high. If the neck starts to pinch, adjust accordingly. You will be holding the pose for a total of 6-8 minutes)
  • Close the eyes, soften the belly and visualize the breath coming in through the crown of the head, floating all the way down the spine, to the back of the hips/low back and tailbone
  • Exhale out from the low back space, back up and out through the crown of the head, breathing out any tension or holding in the back body
  • To release the pose, come back to table pose and stretch one leg back at a time, opening up the back of the leg, releasing compression

Reclined Knee Hug
restorative yoga for low back pain - reclined knee hug - left
restorative yoga for low back pain - reclined knee hug - right
  • Place a support down for the head and slowly, come onto the back
  • Hug the right knee in, interlace the hands over or under the knee. Keep the left leg lengthened on the earth (if having the leg lengthened is causing you pain, bend the left leg)
  • Soften the shoulders and breathe for 5-10 cycles of breath
  • Release the right knee, lengthen the leg and gently hug the left knee in
  • Hands interlace over or under the knee. Take another 5-10 slow breaths with soft shoulders

restorative yoga for low back pain - reclined knee down twist
restorative yoga for low back pain - reclined knee down twist 2
restorative yoga for low back pain - reclined knee down twist 3
yoga to relieve back tension - restorative yoga for low back pain - reclined knee down twist
restorative yoga for low back pain - reclined knee down twist 2
restorative yoga for low back pain - reclined knee down twist 3
Reclined Knee Down Twist
  • With the left leg lengthened, step the right foot on the left thigh
  • Left hand draws the right knee to the left, coming into the twist
  • Right arm opens out like a wing
  • Keep the head at center, gazing up or turn the gaze over the extended arm to take the twist up into the neck
  • Breathe 10-20 slow breaths
  • Come back to center and switch sides

Reclined Leg Rest

Therapeutic Yoga For Low Back Pain - Reclined leg rest

  • Once you release the twist, come back to center and hug both knees in
  • Release the knees, keeping knees bent, bring the feet flat on the earth
  • Walk the feet out wider than hip width and rest the knees together
  • Hands can rest on belly or by the sides
  • Close the eyes and connect to the image of the thigh bones settling into the hip sockets
  • Breathe into the belly, hips and low back for 5-10 minutes
  • To release: hug knees in and briefly circle the knees in the same direction, releasing any tension in the low back. Pause and switch directions
  • Roll to one side and gently press yourself up to seated to set up the inversion

Supported Inversion

yoga to relieve back tension - Therapeutic yoga for low back pain - supported inversion

  • If you are using props, stack 1 bolster on top of two folded blankets or 4 folded blankets on top of one another, out in front of you
  • Facing the support, slowly, one leg at a time, drape the legs up over it so the calf muscles rest on top
  • If you are not using props, sit with one hip up against the couch or bed, lay back on to the forearms and slowly turn away from the couch or bed as you lift the legs up and rest the backs of the calf muscles on the couch or bed
  • There will be no support under the neck (If you have any neck issues and need a little support, make a very small roll with a blanket to use under the cervical spine – do not use a big or bulky pillow. If the neck is elevated too high, it may create more tension or pulling)
  • Rest the hands on the belly or the arms by the sides. Turn your palms up for more of an opening in the chest. You can also bring the arms out to a “T”, bringing the wrists and shoulders in a line
  • Close the eyes softly and breathe slowly
  • Allow the muscles to release as the weight of the lower body is supported by the props
  • Breathe deeply for 6-10 minutes
  • To release: inhale and stretch from fingertips to toes. Slowly hug the knees into the chest, pause, then roll to your most comfortable side
  • Breathe on your side for a few moments before coming up to a comfortable seat
  • Close the eyes, breathe softly and reflect on how you feel before you get back into your day

MY BOOK: YOGA FOR LOW BACK AND HIP HEALTH

You can find more instruction like this in my book, “Yoga For Low Back and Hip Health”. In it, you’ll find easy gentle and restorative yoga instruction that anyone can do. You’ll be feeling better in no time, without drugs or surgery. No experience needed: it’s perfect for beginners and advanced yogis alike.

What’s in the book?
  • Over 200 pages of in-depth and appropriate instruction
  • 43 restorative and gentle yoga poses
  • 15 practical and unique yoga sequences. Practice at your convenience—no pressure to get to a packed studio class at an inconvenient time!
  • Includes over 300 high-resolution images to help you along
Buy online    Learn more about this book    Read reviews  

Did you enjoy this blog?

I publish posts like this all the time. If you'd like tips for living a healthier, more balanced life, right in your inbox, sign up using the form below.