Theory,  Yoga Therapy

Yoga for Low Back Pain

Most humans will experience some low back pain in their life. The causes are manifold ranging from injuries induced from sports activities, postural habits, or underlining neurological conditions. Knowledge of the cause is useful, however, it’s most important to focus energy on the solution rather than the problem. Placing too much emphasis on the cause can dig a deeper physio-psychological attachment to the pain. Actively working towards managing and healing pain will lead to greater freedom. It’s important to start with the intention that you are not the pain; you are experiencing a sensation of pain. This already brings a sigh of relief, as you do not have to carry the heaviness of attaching yourself so deeply with the pain. We all experience pain, and it can manifest as emotional, physical, or spiritual and it is inevitable in the dance of life. Start with this mantra: I am happy, healthy and whole. Work on positive affirmations to invite what you DO want into your being rather than attracting what you don’t want.

The intention is set. The mind experiences a shift from “I am in pain, I am hurting.” to “I am whole in my center. I witness pain, but I know that I am not the pain.” This shift will start working at a physio-psychological level, informing the body that the pain isn’t ingrained, but rather a sensation that comes and goes. Witnessing the pain and sensations within the body, the mind becomes more in tune with its natural rhythms, and the connection of mind, body and spirit is revealed. Focusing on this connection, the body will start to reveal cues and wisdom for ultimate freedom and wholeness.

In the Yoga Sutras,  line (2.54) explains how somewhere along the spiritual path, consciousness evolves to a point where disinterest in the body develops. Realization that the body is impermanent and undergoes changes on a daily basis leads to greater acceptance of ourselves. Trying to hold on to anything that changes proves futile. When this wisdom truly reveals itself in consciousness, interest in the body lessens and awareness shifts to higher ideals, towards selflessness and inner peace. This does not mean we should neglect the body, we must take care of our vehicle for cosmic consciousness to reveal itself. We continue nourishing the body, but the mental disposition changes; we are not attached. The body will age, and when wrinkles and aging spots appear we do not sink into a depression or buy every product that claims to fix our “imperfections”. We accept changes, allow them to unfold as they will and continue the work needed to evolve consciousness fully.

This psychological awareness is key to feeling whole and healing imbalances in the body and mind. That being said, the yogic postures listed below will aid in releasing tension in the low back area, increase bodily awareness and nourish the spine with fresh blood flow. While practicing these postures, breathe fully and deeply while sending the intention of healing and releasing to the area that experiences sensation. Listen to your body and if one or all of these postures do not feel in alignment with your body, please back off.

  1. Knees to Chest
    • Laying on your back, hug your knees into your chest and take a few deep breaths. Gently roll from left to right to give your back a light massage.
  2. Bridge Pose
    • Stay laying on your back and bring your feet on the mat, walking them close in towards the buttox. Keep the ankes in a straight line under the knees. Hands rest by your sides. Inhale, lift the hips off the ground and feel an expansion in the front side of the body. Keep rooting the feet and back of head down. Exhale, lower the hips. Repeat 5x.
  3. Cat/Cow
    • Start on hands and knees, wrist under shoulders and knees under hips. Inhale, gently draw the navel towards the floor, arching the low back while head lifts up. Exhale, navel draws in towards spine and the back rounds like a cat. Repeat 5-10x.
  4. Baby Cobra
    • While laying on the stomach, bring hands under shoulders with elbows pointing up. Inhale, gently lift the chest off the mat using little weight in hands. Keep the neck long. Exhale, rest the chest down. Repeat 5x.
  5. Child’s Pose
    • While on hands and knees, open the knees as wide as the mat and bring the big toes towards eachother. Exhale, draw the hips back towards the heels and relax the chest and forehead towards or on the floor. Deeply breathe.
  6. Supine Hamstring Stretch
    • Laying on the back, grab a strap (scarf or belt can work) and loop the strap under the ball of the right foot. Keep the left leg bent and on the floor. Straighten the right leg up towards the sky while holding the straps in a relaxed manner. Stay for 10 deep breaths. Switch sides.
  7. Spinal Twist
    • Supine, keep feet on the ground and inhale to lift hips and shift them to the right. Inhale, draw knees towards chest and exhale to let legs float over to the left. Arms open up to a T shape. Stay for a few breaths then switch sides, offsetting the hips to the left.