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How to Relieve Back Pain in Yoga Class

Take the Ache Out of Asana: Back Pain Relief in Yoga Class

Everyone is folded forward in yoga class, gently smiling with eyes closed and your back hurts so much, it feels like you're breaking in half. While yoga is meant to relieve certain ailments, it can sometimes make them worse. If you suffer from lower back pain, here are some ways to avoid it while on your mat.

  • Don't go too straight: Since lower back pain can be caused by tight hamstrings, doing poses with straight legs can cause pressure and discomfort. If a pose calls for straight legs such as Down Dog, Wide-Legged Forward Bend, or Triangle, keep a slight bend in the knees. What's most important is keeping a flat back.
  • Request hamstring stretches: Sometimes teachers will ask students what they want to work on before class begins, so speak up! Loosening tight hamstrings can offer relief on and off the mat.
  • Give hips some love: Tight hips or hip flexors are another culprit when it comes to back pain, so spend a little extra time in these poses when they come up in your class.
  • Help from your abs: When doing poses that require core strength or balance, always engage your abs. Not only will this make your lower back feel more stable while in the pose, strengthening your abs can help reduce lower back pain in general.
  • Don't overdo it: Only you know what poses feel good on your lower back, so avoid ones that don't seem like a good idea (and do hamstring or hip openers instead). And whenever you need a break, coming down into Child's Pose is a great option to stretch out your lower back.
  • Ahh Savasana: If lying on your back is super uncomfortable, place a bolster or blanket under your knees. Raising bent knees slightly will take pressure off your lower back and allow you to rest without pain. If this doesn't help, try bending your knees and placing the soles of your feet together in Butterfly position, or move your mat and do legs up the wall instead.
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