Do you spend hours sitting at a desk? Hunched over your computer? Or driving in your car? These postures can lead to neck and back pain. I know they do for me! It’s almost unavoidable, no matter how active or healthy you are!
Yoga is a wonderful way to ease pain and tension in the neck and back. Try these yoga poses recommended by Gaiam to bring your legs, hips, spine, and neck into alignment, release tension, and gain the supportive strength you need to help keep your neck and back pain-free!
GAIAMlife’s Vinyasa Yoga Guru Sadie Nardini: “Top 6 Yoga Poses for Back Pain”
Fists Forward Bend
Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and fold your torso forward over your legs until your belly touches your thighs (or as close as you can get). Make two fists and place them in the opposite elbow creases. Relax your back, neck and head. Take 10-20 breaths, squeezing your fists and releasing tension from the back and neck with every exhale.
Stand in front of a wall at arm’s length. Reach forward from your shoulders and plant your palms on the wall, fingers wide, middle fingers pointing straight at the ceiling. Keep length in your spine as you begin to walk the legs back, folding at the waist, and walking your hands down the wall. Eventually you’ll come into an L-shape. If you can’t get there without feeling pain or rounding your lower back, bend your knees and maintain the proper spinal alignment. Reach long through the tailbone and legs into the floor while reaching the spine, arms and head towards the wall. Hold for 10-20 breaths, and then fold into Fists Forward Bend once again. Move to the next pose after a few breaths.
If done properly, this tried-and true pose can be excellent for getting rid of neck and back pain. Move into the pose with feet hip-distance apart and hands shoulder-distance apart. It’s important not to let your back arch too much, which pressurizes the shoulder joints and over-contracts the back muscles. Press your heels down and press back through the inner and outer legs equally. This provides a stable base, so you can pull your spine and head forward towards the space between your hands. Pull your shoulders and back, pressing long through the arms and fingers, providing a whole-body realignment and stretch. Take 5-10 breaths here, and then proceed to the next pose.
From Downward-Facing Dog, bring your right knee behind the right wrist. Stretch the left leg out long behind you, knee and top of the foot facing the floor. Center your hips in space even if they don’t touch the floor. Press your palms into the floor, ground your legs into the mat, and allow your legs to stretch while you let your low back arch and lift up. Draw your navel and pelvic floor muscles in and lift your heart center up. Take 5-10 breaths here, and then fold forward, forearms on the floor for a full-body stretch. Return to Downward-Facing Dog, and then repeat on the other side.
Back Traction Pose
After your last Pigeon, swing your back leg around and come onto your back, knees bent, feet on the floor. Grab a yoga block. If you don’t have one, a firmly-rolled towel will do. Lift your hips, and place the block in the center of your hips (not low back). The block should be the skinny way, in the same direction as your spine, not wide across the hips like your pants line. Place your hips on the block and gently walk your feet wide. Knock your knees in towards one another for one minute to stretch across the sacrum, and then walk feet and knees together. Lift your knees over your hips until you can relax them but still stay suspended in the air. After about 30 seconds or so, scoot your head further from the shoulders and rest for another 30 seconds. Return to the first variation, feet wide on the floor, knees closer, for a few breaths. To release, walk the feet back under the knees, lift your hips off the block, and remove it to the side. Roll back slowly until you are lying on your back again.
Roll over and relax into Child’s Pose for one minute or more. Try knees wide if you prefer, but try to bring your knees together for a neutral spinal stretch. If your head doesn’t touch the floor, place a yoga block or towel under your forehead so you can relax completely. Breathe slowly, bringing energy in on the inhale, and letting tension dissolve on the exhale.
For more great yoga resources check out Gaiam’s blog GAIAMlife by clicking here.
Image Credits: http://blog.gaiam.com/blog/top-6-yoga-poses-for-back-pain-slideshow/