Lower back pain is such a huge thing for a lot of people, and I get many students asking me what poses I recommend to help ease their lower back tension. I have also experienced it myself, so I know just how de-motivating and challenging it can be.
Guess how many bones we have in our spine? 33 vertebrae. Three Three. That’s a lot. And think about it – we spend most of our day sitting or lying down (work, driving, trains, sleep) and not actively using or stretching these vertebrae. Healthy spine? I think not.
That's why I practise this super quick 10 minute yoga sequence a few times a week to keep my spine young, flexible and healthy - because let's face it, despite all that spinach we eat, no one's getting any younger (sorry to be blunt).
Practise this sequence twice round until your body feels warmer and more ready for deeper backbends.
30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each time
From Tadasana pose, interlace your fingers behind your back. Squeeze those glutes, shoulder blades, and forearms together. Push your pelvis (think hips) forwards and bring your chin toward your chest. Look forward while holding the pose and try to let the breath find its own natural rhythm. Inhale to come back to Tadasana, but keep your fingers interlaced.
Standing Half Splits, variation
30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each side
Bend forward until your belly touches your left thigh. Try to maintain a backbend. Then slowly raise your right leg, both arms, and your head. Point your right toes, look at the ground slightly forward of your foot and try hard to not topple over into a heap on the floor (yes, I've done this many times, luckily in private). Repeat on the other leg.
Low Lunge, variation
30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each side.
From Standing Half Splits, bend your left knee and gently lower your right foot and knee to the floor, coming into a Low Lunge. Release your hands by your sides, and reach your left arm out to the side, then bend your elbow until your left hand is between your shoulder blades with the palm facing back. Raise your right arm and bend the elbow, reach down and grab it with your left hand, interlacing your fingers together. Turn your eyes up to the ceiling in order to get that backbend, try to balance and take long, slow breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Revolved Side Angle Pose, variation
1 minute, 8–10 breaths, each side
Place your left foot on the floor and your right knee behind it, so you're in a lunge position on one knee. (Tip: you can fold a blanket under your knee if they feel a bit unloved). Place your right upper arm against the outer left thigh and put your palms together into a prayer pose. Twist, focusing on starting the twist from the base of your spine, up the torso and turning your head over to left, eyes looking slightly up. Exhale and twist a teensy bit deeper. Repeat on the other side.
After this sequence you should be feeling pretty loose in your spine, like you've had a gooooood massage. Practise this a few times a week, or better yet - every night before bed - and you'll be on the right track to maintaining a flexible, youthful spine well into your nineties. If you're really feeling like a superhero after this, you can try Bridge Pose, or if you're a fully fledged Yogi, try slowly pushing into Full Wheel Pose and practise some variations.
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