19 Simple Yoga Poses For Back Pain Relief

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Yoga Poses For Back Pain Relief

Chronic back pains are commonly seen in people mostly due to unhealthy lifestyles and lack of exercise. Instead of popping pills every time, try yoga as a natural remedy for your pain as it targets either specifically lower, middle, and upper back or the entire back. With constant practice, these asanas will get rid of back pains permanently.

Apart from those related to injuries, most types of back pain are a result of bad posture and a stationary position. This is probably unavoidable, what with lifestyles involving sitting in one place for hours together. While taking breaks in between is a good idea to stretch your body, it won’t be enough. And one of the best solutions for this is yoga!

Are you saying you don’t have enough time for an entire yoga routine for your back? No need to worry. Here we give you specific yoga poses that treat back pain, be it of the entire back or the lower, middle, or upper back and elaborate on what you need to do. Choose what your body needs and what you can do.1 2 3

Types Of Asanas And What They Help With

Asanas/PosesUpper BackMiddle BackLower Back
Single and Double Leg RaiseYes
The PlowYes
The BridgeYesYes
The FishYes
The Inclined PlaneYes
The Half Spinal TwistYes
The CrabYes Yes
The Supine TwistYes
The Cat and CowYesYesYes
The Upward Facing Dog Yes Yes Yes
The Downward Facing DogYesYesYes
The DolphinYes
The Dolphin PlankYesYes Yes
The Standing Forward Bend YesYes Yes
The TriangleYesYes Yes
The CobraYesYesYes
The LocustYes YesYes
The BowYes
Legs Up The Wall YesYesYes

1. Single And Double Leg Raises

Single And Double Leg Raises_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

Single Leg Raises

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs placed together.
  2. Take a deep breath and relax.
  3. Place your arms to the sides of your body with downward-facing palms. If you need more support, place them beneath your back with your hands in a fist.
  4. As you inhale again, lift your left leg up without bending the knee. Try to keep the left foot parallel to the body so that the leg muscles stretch as much as possible.
  5. The resting right leg should also be straight.
  6. Exhale and bring the left leg down without bending the knees.
  7. With the next inhale, lift your right leg up and bring it down in the same manner.
  8. Do a minimum of 5 reps without resting in between.

Double Leg Raises

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs placed together.
  2. Take a deep breath and relax.
  3. As you inhale again, lift both the legs up without bending the knees. Also, your buttocks should be on the floor.
  4. Exhale and bring your legs down while your back lies flat on the floor.
  5. Do a minimum of 5 reps without resting in between. In the last rep, lower the legs as slowly as possible.

In both types of leg raises, the pressure should be on your legs, hands, and abdomen. To ensure the correct posture, always keep your entire back on the floor and let the neck muscles relax all through the asana. This pose strengthens your lower back and abdomen.

Note: If done incorrectly, you might exert more pressure on your lower back and neck, which might be harmful and cause further injury. If you’re new to yoga, remember that you should neither arch your lower back nor use your neck and shoulder muscles.

2. The Plow (Halasana)

The Plow (Halasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Place a folded blanket or towel under your shoulder and upper arm.
  2. Lie flat on your back with your hands beside your body. Your palms should face downward.
  3. As much as possible, do not bend the legs (like in the leg raises). Lift up your hips and lower back.
  4. Place your hands at your lower back (in the same way you would hold a bowl) and provide support.
  5. Bring the legs toward your head and try to touch the floor with your toes. If this isn’t possible, place a chair behind you to rest the feet on. Keep your knees straight.
  6. If you think your body can do without the support, lower your hands under your back and clasp them.
  7. Slowly move your feet apart in this pose and remain there as long as possible.
  8. Replace the hands on your back and roll back on the floor (from the neck and shoulder to the feet).
  9. Do 3–6 reps.

Alternatively, if you cannot lift the legs while keeping them straight, bend your knees and bring them down toward your face. Then, extend your legs behind your head and retain the pose for as long as possible. This pose strengthens the lower back and improves the flexibility of your spine.

Note: Do not do this pose if you’ve menstrual cramps, glaucoma, hypertension, diarrhea, asthma, or a neck or shoulder injury. Ensure you do not hurt your lower back or neck while lifting your legs.

3. The Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

The Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

To begin with:

  1. Relax on your back and bend the knees such that the feet are flat. The thighs and feet should be parallel. Keep your hands on the sides at this stage.
  2. Lift up your hips and support your back with hands (like in step 4 of the plow).
  3. Retain the head and shoulders on the floor and lift the hips up as much as possible; ensure you get a nice arch of the upper back as well. You can use a rolled up blanket or block as support beneath your hips, if required.
  4. Hold for about 30 seconds.
  5. Release the hands, lower your back, and relax in the corpse pose.

If you can do these steps easily, do the following:

  1. Relax on your back and bend the knees such that the feet are flat. The thighs and feet should be parallel. Keep your hands on the sides at this stage.
  2. Lift up your hips by pushing with your hands against the floor and your feet. Pull the tailbone toward the pubic bone with the buttocks off of the floor
  3. Clasp your hands and straighten them toward your feet.
  4. If possible, you can also hold on to the ankles.
  5. Hold for about 30 seconds.
  6. Release the hands, lower your back, and relax in the corpse pose.

This pose enhances the flexibility of the spine and strengthens the entire back.

Note: Avoid if you’ve any severe neck, lower back, or shoulder issues. Do not lower the hips in this pose; keep it such that the torso is aligned.

4. The Fish (Matsyasana)

The Fish (Matsyasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Lie flat on your back with the legs placed together.
  2. Place your hands, palms down, beneath your thighs.
  3. Raise your chest using your elbows.
  4. Simultaneously, bend your head backward and try to rest on top of your head.
  5. Hold the pose for about 2–3 minutes.

Most of us have a stooped posture with shoulders bent downward. And tight clothing results in inadequate blood circulation, clumsy movements, and interrupted breathing, which can cause headaches. The fish pose helps by relieving the shoulder muscles of the stiffness and also stimulates better circulation. It also works on the shoulder muscles and upper back.

Note: Avoid this pose if you suffer from insomnia, migraines, high or low blood pressure, and any neck or shoulder injury. Do not keep the hands too high near the shoulder, keep the feet and the elbows apart, raise the buttocks, tense the legs, bend the knees, leave the head hanging and not touching the floor, and breathe quickly and noisily.

5. The Inclined Plane (Purvottasana)

The Inclined Plane (Purvottanasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Sit down with your legs stretched in front of you.
  2. Place your hands about 30 cm behind your back with the fingers pointing backward.
  3. Lean on your hands in this position and take a few deep breaths. Do not keep your mouth open at any point of time.
  4. Drop your head back and bring your shoulder blades as close as possible.
  5. Inhale, lift your hips up so as to try to place your feet flat on the floor.
  6. Keep the legs close together, do not let the feet turn outward, do not bend your knees, and keep the body in a straight line.
  7. Start by holding the pose for about 10 seconds. As you practice, you will be able to hold it for about a minute.
  8. Sit back down and shake your wrists to relieve any stiffness.
  9. Get into the corpse pose on your back and relax.

This asana gives a slight, gentle backward bend to your entire body. It strengthens the lower back, hips, shoulders, and arms, also expands the chest. It helps improve your muscular coordination and body balance.

Note: Anybody can practice this pose, but you may experience foot cramps if you’re new to this. In such cases, sit up, take deep breaths, and gently massage your foot; give it time to subside. Do not keep your head forward, tense the neck and shoulder, drop the hips low, bend the knees, point the fingers inward instead of outward, and face the feet to the sides.

6. The Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

The Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

To begin with:

  1. Sit down with legs stretched out straight in front of you and placed together. Keep the spine straight.
  2. Place your left foot on the outside of the right calf. The foot should be flat on the ground.
  3. Keep the left arm on the floor behind your back, raise the right arm up, and bring it down outside of your left leg.
  4. Depending on your flexibility, hold on to the calf, ankle, or foot.
  5. Turn your chest and head to the left.
  6. Pull with the left arm and use your right arm to push the body into a twist much as possible and turn the chest farther.
  7. Hold for a minimum for 30 seconds.
  8. Release and repeat on the other side.

If you can manage the above steps easily:

  1. Sit down with your legs stretched out straight in front of you and placed together. Keep the spine straight.
  2. Bend the right leg and place the right heel next to the left hip. Ensure you don’t sit on the foot but it’s just next to you.
  3. Bend the left leg, raise it over the right leg, Place the left foot on the outside of the right knee or in front of the knee, if required.
  4. Place your left arm on the floor behind your back (not too far), raise your right arm up to stretch your spine, and bring it down on the left side of your left knee.
  5. Try to hold on to the left ankle. If not possible, hold on to the right knee.
  6. Stretch, look over your left shoulder, and breathe slowly at a pace.
  7. Place your left arm a little further around. Inhale and straighten the spine. As you exhale, apply more pressure using your right arm.
  8. Hold this pose for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  9. Release and repeat on the other side.

This pose rotates the vertebrae in both directions and makes the spine flexible. It increases the blood supply to your back, relieves lower back pain and muscle pains in the back and hips, and strengthens the spinal nerves.

Note: Avoid exerting excess pressure if you’ve severe back injury or if any part of the back hurts. Do not lift the hips and buttocks off of the floor, lean the body instead of twisting, compress the spine rather than twist, drop one shoulder, and hang the arm free instead of holding onto the ankle or knee.

7. The Crab

The Crab_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Sit down with your legs stretched in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees such that the feet are flat on the floor and hip-width apart.
  3. Place your hands behind your back with the fingers pointing toward you.
  4. Lean back on your arms and take a few deep breaths.
  5. Inhale and slowly lift up your hips so that you look like a crab or a table, with the torso in a straight line.
  6. Ensure that the feet are pointing straight.
  7. Slowly drop your head back.
  8. Use your hands and feet and squeeze your thighs and buttocks to keep the hip in place. Pull the shoulder blades together for more support.
  9. Breathe slowly and deeply and hold for about 20–30 seconds.
  10. Exhale and place the hips back on the floor.

The crab pose strengthens the upper, middle, and lower back as it gives the body a backward bend. It also strengthens the arms and shoulder and opens up the chest. This helps with respiratory issues.

Note: Avoid if you’ve had any severe back, knee, arm, or shoulder injury. Do not lower the hips in this pose; keep it such that the torso is aligned.

8. Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Lie down on your back with your legs straight.
  2. Bring your left knee to your chin.
  3. With your right hand, hold onto the outer side of the left knee. Put some pressure and pull it to your right side.
  4. Stretch your left hand to your left side, perpendicular to your body.
  5. Also, turn your head to the left.
  6. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds.
  7. Slowly bring back the knee and lie down in the supine position.
  8. Repeat with the other leg.

This pose reduces lower back pain, increases the flexibility of the spine, and also strengthens it and the back muscles.

Note: Avoid if you’ve severe neck, shoulder, back, or knee injuries. Do not apply excess pressure on the bent knee or bend the knee that’s on the floor.

9. The Cat And Cow (Marjaryasana And Bitilasana)

The Cat And Cow (Marjaryasana And Bitilasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Place yourself on your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulder and knees under your hips. You can use a blanket under your knees if they hurt.
  2. The knees should be hip-width apart and point straight ahead.
  3. To get into the cow pose, inhale, pull your stomach toward the floor, and get your body into a downward arch.
  4. Lift up your chin and chest and look up.
  5. Pull your shoulders apart and away from the ears.
  6. Now, to get into the cat pose, exhale, lift up your stomach toward the ceiling, and get your body into an upward arch.
  7. Release your head and chin toward the floor and let it relax. There’s no need to touch your chest with the chin.
  8. Inhale and get back into the cow pose and exhale and get into the cat pose.
  9. Alternate and repeat about 10 times.
  10. Sit on your heels with a straight spine to relax.

This pose strengthens the entire back by flexing the spine and increasing the suppleness. It also increases the blood flow to the back muscles and reduces pain.

Note: Avoid this pose if you’ve severe back or neck issues. Do not apply excess pressure on the knees or on the wrists.

10. The Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

The Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Lie on your stomach with the top of the feet and toes on the floor.
  2. Place your palms next to your waist, which will make your forearms almost perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Inhale and push yourself forward using your hands.
  4. Lift up your torso and part of your legs by straightening your arms.
  5. Use the leg muscles to keep the thighs off the floor and your arms to keep the torso up.
  6. Keep the elbows by the side of your body, pull the shoulders away from the ears, and push your chest toward your ceiling.
  7. Draw the shoulders back such that the shoulder blades reach out toward the upper back. Do not crush the neck. Stop applying pressure if your back or arms hurt.
  8. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds.
  9. Exhale and lower your body to the floor. Turn your head to one side and relax your arms by the side of your body.
  10. You can do up to 5 reps.

Practicing cobra pose will give you the flexibility to come into this pose. With the backward stretch, the pose strengthens the spine, reduces pain, promotes flexibility, and stimulates blood flow.

Note: Avoid this pose if you’ve severe back or arm injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, headache, or if you’re pregnant. Do not leave the shoulders near the ears.

11. The Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

The Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Get down on the floor on your knees and hands. Place the knees right below the hips and the hands a little in front of your shoulder level, like in the cat pose.
  2. Spread your fingers and turn your toes under.
  3. Take a deep breath, exhale, and lift your knees up away from the floor.
  4. To start with, you can keep the knees slightly bent and the heels a little off the floor.
  5. Stretch your arms so that you lengthen the spine.
  6. Press against the floor and open up your chest.
  7. Push up your sitting bones to tilt forward the upper part of the pelvis.
  8. Stay in this position if your body is stiff.
  9. If not, gently straighten the knees and walk the legs toward your upper body. The lower back shouldn’t be rounded here.
  10. Keep your heels on the floor to give your body the maximum stretch.
  11. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds, release, and relax.

Note: Do not do this if you’ve glaucoma, high blood pressure, headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, diarrhea, or if you’re pregnant. Do not walk too forward and lessen the distance between the upper body and legs as it might hurt the lower back or keep the hands too close or too far apart to avoid neck and shoulder injuries

12. The Dolphin (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)

The Dolphin (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Get down on the floor on your knees and hands. Place the knees right below the hips and the hands a little in front of your shoulder level, like in the cat pose.
  2. Place your forearms on the floor with the wrists directly under the shoulders.
  3. Spread your fingers and turn your toes under.
  4. Take a deep breath, exhale, and lift your knees up away from the floor.
  5. To start with, you can keep the knees slightly bent and the heels a little off the floor.
  6. Press against the floor with your forearms and move your shoulders against the back.
  7. Hold your head between the arms without letting it hang or get tensed.
  8. Straighten your knees without rounding your upper back. If not, retain the bent knees.
  9. Hold the pose for up to 30 seconds, release, and relax.

This pose works on the lower back and can relieve pain.

Note: Avoid doing this with any severe neck or shoulder injuries. Keep the knees bent in such cases.

13. The Dolphin Plank (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana)

The Dolphin Plank (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Start from the dolphin pose but with bent knees.
  2. Stretch and spread the shoulder blades away from the spine.
  3. Straighten your knees such that your body is in a straight line.
  4. Turn your face toward the floor and look ahead.
  5. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds and relax.

This pose strengthens the entire back and also stretches the shoulder muscles.

Note: Use supports such as block to support your forehead in the case of neck injuries. Also, use a pillow beneath the torso in the case of shoulder injuries.

14. The Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

The Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Stand with the feet together.
  2. Inhale and lift your hands straight up.
  3. Exhale and bend forward with your hands straight in an attempt to touch the toes. Do this from the hips.
  4. Stretch and lengthen the spine. Face your knees.
  5. If you’re not able to touch the toes, hold onto your ankles. The back should be flat and not rounded.
  6. Hold for about 10-30 seconds.
  7. Release your hands and let your body hang free.
  8. Slowly get back up with the hands hanging down. Roll into your standing position from the hips.

This pose increases the flexibility of the spine and lengthens it. It also relieves lower-back pain.

Note: Do not bend your knees, drop the weight on the heels, push your buttocks backward, keep your head up facing ahead, or round the back. Avoid this pose if you’ve glaucoma.

15. The Triangle (Trikonasana)

The Triangle (Trikonasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Stand straight and spread the feet apart, more than the shoulder width.
  2. Inhale and lift the right arm up. It should be straight and parallel to your ear. You should be able to feel the stretch on your entire right side in this position.
  3. Exhale and bend to the left and feel the stretch. Here, the left arm will slide down your left leg.
  4. Make sure you do not twist your body in this pose.
  5. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  6. Do 3–4 reps.
  7. Inhale and get back to the position in step 1.
  8. Repeat on the other side.

This pose relaxes the spinal nerves and gives the back muscles and the spine a good stretch. You can also try any variations of this pose, such as the twisted triangle, for similar benefits.

Note: Avoid bending the knees, twisting the body or back, moving the head forward in the pose, or resting the weight on the leg.

16. The Cobra (Bhujangasana)

The Cobra (Bhujangasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Lie on your stomach with the forehead on the ground.
  2. Place your hands, palms facing downward and fingers pointing toward the shoulders, right next to your chest (exactly beneath the shoulders).
  3. The elbows will be bent, slightly pointing upward and bent toward the body.
  4. Place the top of the feet on the floor, including the toes. This pose does not require you to use the leg muscles.
  5. Inhale and, just like a snake, lift your head up and backward. You slowly rise from the nose to the chin.
  6. Using your hands, lift up your head and chest. Get the upper body into an arch one vertebra at a time. Do the lifting slowly.
  7. Your legs and hips should remain on the ground, elbows bent, and shoulders away from the ears.
  8. Turn your gaze upward and pull your shoulder blades far apart.
  9. Take easy, deep breaths.
  10. Make sure it’s just the stretched neck and upper shoulder muscles that keep you in this pose and not that of the arms.
  11. Hold the pose as long as possible, anywhere from 10 seconds to 1 minute.
  12. Inhale deeply, exhale, and roll back slowly to the original position.
  13. Do 2–3 reps and relax.

Since the back is bent against gravity, the pose gives you a strong back. The strong stretch of the spine pulls back every vertebra and stimulates blood supply. It cures hunchback, lower-back and general back pain, and muscle pain in the back.

Note: Avoid doing this if pregnant, or if you have a headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, or any serious back injuries. Do not apply more pressure if you experience pain in the spine

17. The Half And Full Locust (Shalabhasana)

The Half And Full Locust (Shalabhasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

The starting position:

  1. Lie on your stomach.
  2. As though you’re trying to place the throat flat on the floor, stretch the chin as forward as possible and touch it to the floor.
  3. Make fists with your hands and place them beneath your thighs. The inner wrist and thumb should be on the floor. Also, try to bring the elbows closer together in this position.

To get into the half locust:

  1. Inhale and lift the right leg as high as possible.
  2. Remember: Do not lift or twist the hips.
  3. Try to keep both the knees straight.
  4. Start by holding the pose for 5 seconds and increase to up to 15 seconds.
  5. While exhaling, lower the leg to the floor.
  6. Repeat with the other leg.
  7. Do 2–5 reps on each side.

To get into the full locust:

  1. In the starting position, take 3 deep breaths.
  2. On the third breath, inhale and raise both the legs together off the floor, as high as possible.
  3. Keep the knees straight.
  4. Start by holding the pose for 5 seconds and increase to up to 30 seconds.
  5. Do 2-3 reps.
  6. To get out of the pose, exhale and bring the legs down slowly and gradually.
  7. Relax by folding your arms and making a pillow for your head.

This pose strengthens the lumbar and sacral parts of the back, the back and shoulder muscles, increases the blood supply to the spine, and reduces lower-back pain. It can also help cure hunchback issues and muscle pain.

Note: Do not do this if pregnant. Do not lift the chin off the floor, touch the nose or forehead to the floor, get suddenly into position or out of it, and bend the knees.

18. The Bow (Dhanurasana)

The Bow (Dhanurasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

  1. Lie on your stomach with the forehead on the floor.
  2. Bend the knees, keep them a little apart, and bring up your feet.
  3. With your hands, reach backward and hold onto your ankles. Ensure that you keep the feet relaxed.
  4. Inhale, raise your head, chest, and thighs away from the floor. Your elbows should not bend.
  5. Arch backward as much as possible, dropping the weight on just the abdomen.
  6. Lifting your head back and looking up will lift the chest higher.
  7. Pull the feet away from your body, trying to straighten your knees. This will help lift your legs up as much as possible and also open up the chest.
  8. Hold this for about 10–30 seconds. Breathe normally during this time and keep your mouth closed.
  9. Take a deep breath and let go of the pose as you exhale.
  10. Repeat 3–5 times.

This pose works on the entire back, from the cervical region to the thoracic, sacral, and lumbar regions, and relieves pain. It massages the back muscles and cures hunchback issues. It also increases the flexibility of the spine.

Note: Do not do this on an empty stomach or if pregnant.

19. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)_Yoga Asanas For Upper, Middle, and Lower Back Pain Relief

Some also propose the seated forward bend as a possible healing pose for the back, but this might not be good for you. This forward bend works more on the leg muscles. A forced stretch of the back to touch your toes could lead to increased back injury. Talk to your yoga instructor before going for this.

A Few Tips For The Perfect Practice

The best time to do yoga is in the morning; do it in the evenings if you’ve no other option. Remember to have a gap of at least 2 hours between your food intake and the yoga routine. Do not force your body into any position as you might just induce a new injury or worsen the previous one. Be fluid and gentle with the movements, take it slow and easy, and be persistent to cure your back pain with yoga.

References   [ + ]

1.Dongaonkar, Dayanand. Yoga application for low back pain. JAYPEE BROTHERS PUBLISHERS, 2013.
2.Devananda, Swami Vishnu. The complete illustrated book of yoga. Harmony, 2011.
3.Yoga Centre, Sivananda. Sivananda Beginner’s Guide To Yoga. Octopus Books, 2006

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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