A Yoga Sequence to Target Sources of Back Pain

While yoga can often be a quick fix, these postures will help to methodically alleviate the root cause of back pain.
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While yoga can often be a quick fix, these postures will help to methodically alleviate the root cause of back pain.
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While yoga can often be a quick fix, these postures from our partner site Sonima.com will help to methodically alleviate the root cause of back pain.

Because pain often stems from a variety of confounding factors not solely emerging from physical misalignment or injury, we yogis look toward methods for physical and spiritual, or psychosomatic, healing. I like to approach pain from a place of acceptance and gratitude rather than anger or fear. As the poet Rumi wrote, “The wound is place where the Light enters you.” Without pain, we have no opportunity to discover the power of healing. Our physical symptoms can be our greatest teachers, serving as a gateway into self-discovery and higher consciousness. If you allow yourself to look deeply, you can choose to not only heal completely, but actually recreate yourself into a better version of you. This process can even be inspiring and fun if you allow it.

Physically, this series focuses on spinal extensions (backbends), which alleviate the tension from excessive forward flexion (forward bending). This is helpful for those who sit or bend forward for extended periods. These poses help draw the mind and body state out of fight-or-flight mode. In modern times, stresses are much more complicated than they were for the primitive man. The survival instinct, however, is still a driving force in our daily lives. In fact, most of us live in this “do or die” state of consciousness most days without realizing it: being late for work, deadlines from a boss, constantly checking e-mails and texts, expectations from a spouse, the pressure to make more money. The list goes on. In this state of constant survival, our shoulders become tight and constricted, and the breath becomes shallow as a protective instinct. The chemistry in the body changes as adrenaline and cortisol, the “stress hormones” pump into the system.

See also Ease Low Back Pain: 3 Subtle Ways To Stabilize the Sacrum

This sequence is designed to help counter these effects. We stop the worried chatter in the mind by focusing on the breath. We ground and stabilize the feet in the earth to remind us of our safety at this moment. We open our chests and look up to prove to ourselves we are not being “attacked” by the stressors but rather the creators of our reality. In this process we change the chemistry of the body into a state of bliss, releasing serotonin and dopamine—our “happy hormones”. Moving beyond the physical, this sequence also addresses the energy systems, or chakras. The word chakra comes from Sanskrit and means “spinning wheel.” There are seven major chakras throughout the body beginning from the feet, through the base of the spine, and extending through the top of the head. Often, when we have a physical injury, there is a correlative blockage, hindrance, or misalignment of the flow of energy in a particular chakra due to life circumstances. In a fight-or-flight mode, it is very hard to keep the energy moving, or spinning. To heal low back pain, we will be focusing on opening muladhara, the root chakra, and anahata, the heart chakra, both of which are often blocked when there is low back pain. As the energy begins to flow freely into these areas, true healing can occur. Unblocking the chakras is like stepping off a garden hose full of water.

It’s helpful to cultivate a sense of security through grounding and feelings of lightness though expansion. When we feel safe we can grow and heal. If the thinking mind can be quieter, then the feeling body can be accessed, and from this space, change can authentically occur. Allow your center of consciousness to move down out of the head and into the heart space.

See also A Core-Awakening Sun Salute for Lower Back Support

12 Yoga Poses to Ease Back Pain

Make sure to take several long deep breaths in each pose and focus on clearing your mind. Repeat the opposite side of each pose.