When you’re in pain, exercising is possibly the last thing on your mind, but certain yoga poses could be incredibly beneficial. “This practice has long been acknowledged for alleviating back pain,” says Susie Howell, yoga teacher and director of Ibiza Retreats (ibizaretreats.com). “Depending on your diagnosis, there are different poses that can aid your recovery and help strengthen your back and core, ensuring that you’re less prone to injury going forward.” Here are her top moves to relieve back pain:
Cat and Cow (or marjariasana)
These two combined poses create space in the vertebrae while mobilising the spine and allowing the energy to flow into areas of tightness to release tension. Repeat the moves three times.
Start on your hands and knees with your hands spread wide directly under your shoulders. Inhale, then drop your belly towards the mat and lift your head and chest up towards the ceiling. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for five to 10 seconds, then come back to a neutral spine.
Exhale as you push through your hands and knees, rounding your back towards the sky like a cat stretching, with the crown of your head towards the floor. Draw your belly button towards your spine and hold for five to 10 seconds.
Child’s pose (or utthita balasana)
This is one of the most restorative poses you can do, particularly if you’re in acute pain or spasm. It’s also good for a stressed nervous system, which is encased by your spine, as it’s very calming. To perform it, begin on your hands and knees, pushing your fingertips and tailbone in opposite directions. Bring your bottom down over your heels with your arms outstretched in front of you. You can play with this pose, keeping knees together or shoulder width apart, allowing your abdomen to rest between your thighs.
Downward facing dog (or adho mukha svanasana)
As the most recognised yoga pose, this offers the ultimate all-over rejuvenating stretch, enabling the spine to realign and release. Begin on your hands and knees, then exhale and gently lift your knees away from the floor, bringing your hips up towards the sky. Keep your knees bent as you push into your palms and heels and inhale as you draw your stomach towards your spine, lengthening and relaxing your neck. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and bend your knees to the floor to come out of the pose.