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Taking Care of Your Lower Back through Yoga

Krishan Verma
Dec 30, 2013 at 10:25 PM PDT

Taking Care of your Lower Back.
Here are a few useful tips and exercises:

1.   Manage your weight and stay within your ideal weight range.
Carrying extra body weight is hard on your back and your weight-bearing joints. Determine the ideal weight range for your height and body frame, and strive to remain in that range. You know what needs to be done to lose weight. You just have to do it!

I may talk about ‘weight loss’ in a separate post. It is simple; eat healthy and in moderation, and exercise regularly.

2.   Make your abdominal muscles stronger. 
If your belly is big or weak, you will most likely develop back problems sooner or later.

To make your abdominal muscles stronger you will need to do a few abdominal exercises daily for about 10 minutes, and 4-5 times a week. As you progress, you can do them twice daily. You can learn the exercises in Sri Sri Yoga classes, in any fitness class that gives importance to strengthening the abdominals, or even online. Start with simple exercises which you can do comfortably, and then gradually increase the challenge. You can do them as a part of your whole exercise routine or separately. Sometimes while watching TV, don’t sit on the sofa, instead get down on the floor and do your exercises :) . If you experience back pain while doing the abdominal exercises, reduce the intensity and the number of repetitions to a comfortable level and then increase them gradually.

3.   Improve Your Posture.
Do you habitually stand or sit with a hunchback, or with your tummy pushed outward? Do you lean to one side while standing or sitting? Do you mostly sit with you back supported? These habits distort the alignment of the spine, over-stress certain parts of the body, and weaken others. Break these habits with more awareness and practice. Develop a habit of keeping your torso straight while sitting or standing. Balance your weight equally on both feet while standing, and put more weight on your heels than on the toes. While sitting, balance your weight equally on both sitting bones. Keeping your posture upright, balanced and relaxed will improve spinal alignment, will improve tone in your back muscles, and reduce pressure on your lower back.

4.   Exercise Regularly.
Keep Active. Do aerobic exercise such as walking (my favorite), swimming, gentle jogging, dancing etc., followed by a session of yoga postures. Always do some warm-ups before doing yoga postures

5. Take professional medical advice if there has been an injury or if the pain persists.

6. Yoga Exercises for the Lower Back. 
The exercises given below are for strengthening and stretching the lower back muscles. You may already be doing some of the exercises, but still read through them. I have added a few extra pointers.

You can do these suggested exercises as a part of your complete exercise routine or do them separately. Do them to your comfort level. Don’t overdo or push through the pain. If you feel pain, come out of the posture, relax, and go back into it with more awareness and caution.

  1. Pelvic Movements:
    Lie on your back and let your lower back relax. Keep both the legs straight on the floor. With your right leg push towards the wall in front as though you are making the right leg longer than the left. Feel the pelvic tilt. Hold for 2-3 seconds and let go. Then do the same with the left leg. Repeat 5-10 times.
  2. A Gentle Hug:
    Bring both knees to your chest and wrap your hands around your legs. Gently press your legs into the tummy and press your lower back into the floor. Hold for 2-3 seconds and release.  Repeat 3-5 times.Keep the legs bent to your tummy and arms wrapped around them. Imagine that a heavy weight is tied to the center of your lower back. Try lifting the weight up with your lower back, but because it is a heavy weight you can’t lift it. You are just making an effort to. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
  3. Bridge:
    Come into the bridge posture by placing your feet near the buttocks and lifting the pelvis up. Keep the toes pointing straight forward. Check your balance to ensure that you are equally balanced on both your feet and shoulders. Now imagine a heavy weight is tied to your lower back. Try to lift the weight up. But because it is a heavy weight you can’t lift. You are just making effort to. Hold for 2-3 seconds and release. Repeat 3-5 times.
  4. Superman:
    This is an excellent posture for strengthening the lower back. Lie on your tummy with arms extended in front. Lift your arms, torso, legs, and thighs up. Keep the knees and elbows straight. Try to lift the thighs higher and imagine lifting the buttocks up. Ensure that you are lifting both shoulders and both thighs equally.
    Hold for 3-5 seconds. Come down. Repeat 3- 5 times.
    In the last round hold the posture for about 10 -15 seconds.
  5. Cobra:
    Come into cobra posture by keeping the hands and elbows on the floor in front, and lifting the chest up. Look to the front. Tighten your buttocks.
    Now press your lower back toward the floor and then imagine lifting it up toward the ceiling. Do this movement a couple of times. Let go and relax.
    Repeat 3-5 times. In the last round hold the posture for 10-15 seconds.
    Ensure that you are equally balanced on both arms , and that both shoulders are pulling  back equally.
  6. Cat Stretch:
    Come to all fours,on your hands and knees.Keep the knees directly under the hips and hands under the shoulders. Look up toward the ceiling, lift the chest upward as in Cobra. Feel the arch in your lower back. Tighten your tummy, and with your lower back try to push your tummy down, and with your tummy resist the movement. Hold 3-5 seconds.Press your chin to chest, feel the roundness of your back. Imagine someone’s hand is pressing your upper back down, and you are lifting the hand up with your upper back. Hold 3-5 seconds.Repeat 3-5 times.

With regular and proper practice for about two weeks, you will start noticing a difference. Your posture will improve, your lower back will feel stronger and overall you will feel healthier.

You will feel and walk taller.

Remember, you are responsible for your well being. Do it now! :)

Originally published on experienced yoga teacher Krishan Verma’s blog

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Krishan Verma
Krishan Verma has been a student of yoga for the past 35 years has trained more than 2,000 yoga teachers all around the world. Through his mastery of yoga, his knowledge and most importantly, his teaching methodology, he brings out the best in his students.
Krishan Verma

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