Lower back pain is a common problem that seems to affect just about everyone at some point in their lives. It may not put you out of commission entirely, but that achy feeling in the lumbar region of your back can certainly be uncomfortable, and affect your mood or willingness to move or workout, which might actually make you feel better.

Fortunately, some simple, low-impact yoga poses may help to relieve that tightness in your lower back and get you feeling good as new.

Before trying the postures below, please find comfy carpet or a yoga mat to stretch out on. Please have a blanket and pillow nearby.

Also, please note: that in trying these postures you understand and acknowledge that you voluntarily do so at your own risk and you assume all risk of injury to yourself.

1. Child’s Pose

This gentle forward fold helps to both lengthen and align your spine, and relax your upper and lower back. To try this posture:

  • Move into table top (hands and knees)
  • Take your knees a bit wider and bring your big toes to touch
  • Send your bum back towards your heels (it might rest on your heels – it might not)
  • Allow your belly to rest on your thighs
  • Reach your arms out in front of you or towards the top of your yoga mat
  • Rest your forehead on the ground
  • Hold this pose for 5 – 10 deep breaths

If your hips do not easily rest on your heels, you can always place a pillow under your bum to help support your hips.
If you feel pinching or tightness at your knee crease, you can place a rolled blanket in your knee crease and then send your hips towards your heels and relax your belly over your thighs.
If you feel pain in your shoulders while reaching your hands forward, you can relax your arms along side your body (so they reach towards your feet).
If you crave more support under your torso or chest, you can place a bolster or rolled blanket under yourself: sit back on your heels or move into table top – then align the prop from where your head is on the mat or ground, down to your belly button, then move back into child’s pose over the prop.

2. Cat-Cow Pose

In addition to relieving tension in the lower back, this pose also helps release tightness, stiffness or gripping in the neck, shoulders and side body.

  • Move into table top (hands and knees) and check that your shoulders are over your wrists, and your knees are under your hips (hip width apart)
  • As you inhale, gently offer your heart forward and tilt your pelvis up towards the ceiling, and gaze straight ahead, creating a subtle back bend (think of the posture of a cow standing in a field)
  • As you exhale, tuck your tailbone, draw your belly towards your spine, press into your hands into the earth as you round your back and gaze down (think of an angry cat)
  • Keep moving with your breath for 5 – 10 cycles of breath

If your knees feel irritated, place a blanket or towel (of the same thickness) under each knee.
If yourwrists feel sore, find a seated position (sitting in a chair, or with legs crossed): place your right hand on your right knee and left hand on your left knee – and try the cat/ cow movement.
As you inhale gently offer your chest forward and notice how your pelvis naturally tilts (you might feel your bum move back). As you exhale feel your hands gently pull back against your knees as you round your back and draw your belly towards your spine (gaze falls towards your knees or ankles depending how you sit).

3. Reclined Supine Twist

This reclined twist helps to relieve tension in your low back, hips and glutes. It is also great for creating more space in your lungs to breathe, AND it helps to massage your internal organs (kidneys, liver, adrenal glands, GI tract and stomach) moving stagnant energy in your body and improving blood flow as well. Please have a bolster, block or pillow for this posture. To try:

  • Lay flat on your back and draw your knees into your chest
  • Place your prop of choice between your knees and calves (if possible) so your legs now create a 90 degree angle
  • Slowly lower your legs (with your props between the knees) to the right and stack your left leg on the right leg
  • Allow your right leg to become heavy, relaxing into the ground
  • Allow the left leg to become heavier as well – releasing any gripping or tightness in the left thigh
  • Gently place your right hand on the left tight and extend your left arm out to the left, resting on the ground with your palm up
  • Turn your gaze to the ceiling or over your left shoulder
  • Stay for 5 – 8 deep breaths
  • Lower onto your back and repeat on the left side

If your left shoulder is lifted when your legs are lowered to the right, you might want to place another pillow between your knees. Adding another prop creates more space in the hips and low back, which allows your chest to relax and open more easily.
If you have major shoulder sensitivity, try placing a pillow under your left shoulder to give you more support / “bring the ground up to you”.
As always, explore what feels best for your body. This posture is not about forcing a twist or deep rotation, it is meant to happen more organically – so props can be extremely helpful in allowing a deeper release and more relaxation – without the effort.

4. Downward Facing Dog

This pose helps stretch out your upper back and shoulders AND your hips, hamstrings and calves, the latter of which can be the culprit of lower back pain.

  • Move into table top (hands and knees) and check that your shoulders are over your wrists, and your knees are under your hips (hip width apart)
  • Spread your fingers and gently claw the mat with your hands to activate your hands and protect your wrists
  • Tuck your toes and allow your knees to hover over the mat
  • Pressing into your hands, send your belly towards your thighs and slide your sitting bones up an imaginary wall behind you (think hips towards the sky – or – creating an upside down “V” shape with your body)
  • Keep a micro bend in your knees and allow your heels to reach down towards the mat (I like to imagine I’m kicking out of the outer edge of my heels)
  • Keep pressing into your hands, and breathe into the upper back as you gently align your ears between your biceps
  • Take 3 – 5 deep breaths

If you have shoulder sensitivity, find a seated posture (on a chair). Sit tall and slowly fold forward over your thighs. Allow your head to rest between or on your knees and your hands to rest on the ground. Take 3 -5 deep breaths into your low back.

5. Thread the needle (Reclined Pigeon) Pose

This is one of my favourite stretches to relieve a tight low back! It helps to create space in the inner thighs, hips, and glutes which all play into the tightness you might feel in your low back. To try:

  • Lay flat on your back with knees bent and feet on the mat
  • Extend your right leg up to the sky and cross your right ankle over the left thigh
  • Stay here (in what is called “figure 4 share”) and softly press your right hand against your right thigh guiding it open
  • Lift your left foot and reach your hands through the keyhole, clasping your hands around the back of the left thigh
  • Use your right elbow and forearm to gently guide the right leg to the right
  • Press your low back and sacrum down into the earth to maintain a long spine
  • Direct your breath and awareness to your right outer hip
  • Stay for 5 – 10 deep breaths
  • Lower back onto your back and repeat on the left side

You do not want to push for the stretch until you feel pain.
If you experience any sharp pain in the pose, please place your left foot back onto the mat and stay in the figure 4 shape.
If the pain persists please move out of the posture completely.

To access my FREE videos on Youtube (that include more stretching suggestions), please click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEjmDVNFktzVvOurqz0fS_g

If you have questions please email me. If you have comments, please share them below.