Poses by Benefit

This 15-pose Sequence was Scientifically Proven to Treat Chronic Low-Back Pain in the Military

The RESTORE yoga program was developed by researchers and master yogis to treat chronic lower-back pain in service members and their families. Try it at home by gently practicing the following poses.

1. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Christopher Dougherty

Sit in the middle of your mat, knees bent, feet hip-width apart. Lie back. Push up to Bridge Pose with palms pressing into the mat by your sides. Stay for 5 breaths, then slowly lower.

See also 16 Poses to Ease Back Pain

2. Ardha Pavanamuktasana (Half Wind-Relieving Pose)

Ardha Pavanamuktasana
Christopher Dougherty

Straighten both legs out in front of you. Draw one knee into your chest. Stay here for 3 breaths, then push the heel of your straight leg away from you, lengthening your hip and flexing your toes. Stay here for 3 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

See also 10-Minute Sequence to Ease Back Pain

3 Ardha Salabhasana variation (Half Locust Pose)

Ardha Salabhasana
Christopher Dougherty

Roll onto your belly. Keep your chin or forehead on the mat, palms down by your sides. Raise one straight leg. Hold for 6 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Do 2 rounds, then lift both legs. Stay here for 6 breaths.

See also A Yoga Sequence to Target Sources of Back Pain

4. Balasana (Child’s Pose) to Cat-Cow Pose

Christopher Dougherty

Sit back on your heels with your forehead on the mat, arms extended in front of you. Hold for 3 breaths. Come to all fours, slowly curling your back up into Cat Pose on the exhalation and dropping your belly into Cow Pose on an inhalation. Repeat several times.

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

5. Tabletop variation

Christopher Dougherty

Come to Tabletop and pull your navel toward your spine. Extend one arm, hold for 3 breaths, then repeat on the other side. Next, extend one leg, hold for 3 breaths, and repeat on the other side. Do this twice. Next, extend your left leg and your right arm. Hold for 3 breaths, and repeat on the other side.

See also Fill In Yoga’s Gaps with Somatic Practices

6. Plank Pose variation

Plank variation
Christopher Dougherty

Add this pose when ready: From Tabletop, come to a pushup position with arms and spine straight, tailbone moving toward your heels. Breathe. Lower your elbows to your mat, and tuck your toes under, slowly coming into Forearm Plank. Hold for as long as you can. Stay here, or straighten your arms.

See also 10 Poses to Steal from Yoga Hybrids

7. Anjaneyasana variation (Low Lunge)

Christopher Dougherty

From kneeling, move one foot to the mat in front of you. With hands on your thigh, take 5 breaths. Then with hands on blocks, deepen into the lunge, bringing knee over ankle. Hold for 10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

See also A Kundalini Yoga Sequence to Find Your Courage

8. Uttanasana variation (Standing Forward Bend)

Uttanasana variation
Christopher Dougherty

Stand 1–2 feet from a chair seat. Lower your hands or elbows to the seat, stretching your back and shoulders. Hold for 10 breaths. Do this twice.

See also 8 Innovative Ways to Use a Bolster to Explore Backbends in Your Body

9. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)

Virabhadrasana 1
Christopher Dougherty

From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), step your feet wide, 4–5 feet apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees. Pivot your left foot inward to a 45-degree angle. Shins and pelvis face front. Hold onto a chair for support, and take 5 breaths. Next, take 5 breaths with hands on hips. Then reach arms up overhead, lengthening through your waist, chest, and neck. Hold for 5 breaths; repeat on the other side.

See also A Healing Meditation For Caregivers of Wounded Warriors

10. Crescent Moon Pose variation

Crescent Moon Pose variation
Christopher Dougherty

With feet hip-width apart, reach one arm up and over with the other hand holding onto a chair for support. Make a crescent shape as you stretch toward the chair. Hold for 5 breaths; repeat on the other side. Reach both arms up; interlace your fingers and repeat. 

See also 12-Minute Core Strength Sequence (for Real People)

11. Standing Balance

Standing Balance
Christopher Dougherty

Stand tall at the center of your mat. Lift one leg so your bent knee is at hip height. Hold onto a chair, and take 5 breaths. Repeat with hands on hips, then engage your abdominal muscles, and hold for 5 breaths with raised arms. Repeat on the other side.

See also Heather Lilleston’s 10 Must-Know Tricks to Getting the Best Rest Possible on a Red-Eye 

12. Baddha Konasana variation (Bound Angle Pose)

Buddha Konasana
Christopher Dougherty

Sit against a wall with legs straight out in front of you. Pull your heels toward your pelvis. Drop your knees to the sides; press the soles of your feet together. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you can, grasping your feet. Hold for 5 breaths. Slowly bend forward, lowering your head for 5 breaths.

See also A Viniyoga Sun Salutation to Restore Your Body + Soul

13 Supine Spinal Twist

Supine Twist
Christopher Dougherty

Lie flat on the floor with arms extended out on either side of you. Move one knee into your chest, then stretch it across your body, sending your gaze to the opposite side. Hold for 3 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

See also Free Your Front Body: A Flow for Your Fascia

14. Sucirandhrasana variation (Eye-of-the-Needle Pose)

sucriandhrasana variation
Christopher Dougherty

Lie on your back with one foot knee height on a wall (leg makes a 90-degree angle), and rest your other foot on the thigh of your bent leg. Hold for 5 breaths; repeat on the other side.

See also 30-Minute Beginner Sequence to Reset Your Perspective on Life

15. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Christopher Dougherty

Lie flat on your mat with palms up, legs extended. Stay here, breathing into your belly for 10 minutes.

See also 7 Strategies for Recovering from Yoga Teacher Burnout

See also The Good Fight: How Yoga is Being Used Within the Military