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Yoga Sequences

20-Minute Sequence to Ease Back Pain

Yoga teacher Andrea Ferretti offers 20 minutes of yoga poses to help ease tension in your back and find better posture.

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BACK TO 16 Poses to Ease Back Pain

Half Knees-to-Chest Pose

Ardha Apanasana

5 rounds, 2 breaths each, 1 minute total

Lie on your back. On an exhalation, draw your right knee toward your chest and hold your right shin with both hands. In this and the following 4 poses, do not press your lower back to the floor; instead, maintain a natural lumbar curve. Slowly inhale to release the right leg back to the floor, then exhale to draw in the left knee; inhale to release. Repeat, alternating right and left, 4 more times.

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Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose A

Supta Padangusthasana A

5 breaths, 30 seconds, each side

Slide a hand under your lower back to make sure there is a gentle curve. Place a strap around the arch of your right foot. Exhale to straighten your right leg, stacking your ankle over your hip, or bringing your leg up as high as possible and slackening the strap as needed to feel a gentle hamstring stretch. Press through both heels, flexing your feet. Exhale to release and switch sides.

See alsoWhen Hamstrings Hurt

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose B

Supta Padangusthasana B

5 breaths, 30 seconds, each side

Return to your right side and take both strap ends in your right hand, extending your left arm along the floor. Exhale to lower your right leg to the right. Try to keep your left hip on the floor and your left kneecap pointing up. You should feel a stretch in your inner right thigh, but no lower-back strain. Inhale to lift your right leg back up; exhale to release it to the floor. Switch sides.

See alsoYou Have to Be Nice to Your Hamstrings to Lengthen Them

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose C

Supta Padangusthasana C

5 breaths, 30 seconds, each side

Inhale to bring your right leg back to vertical. With the strap around the arch of your foot, bring both ends into your left hand. Place your right thumb into your right hip crease and draw your hip down slightly so that you maintain length and space in the lower back. Exhale to draw your leg left across your body; inhale to bring your leg back to vertical. Release the strap and switch legs.

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Eye-of-the-Needle Pose


8-10 breaths, 1 minute, each side

Bring both knees in toward your chest, then place your right ankle on your left thigh, just above the knee. Hold your left thigh. If you want to increase the stretch, bring your left thigh forward and press your right knee away from your torso. Be mindful of the natural curve in your lower back and keep your shoulders relaxed. Exhale to release, then switch sides. After finishing on the left, roll to one side and use your hands to come to a seated position.

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Cat and Cow Poses

Marjaryasana and Bitilasana

10 breaths, 1 minute total

Come onto your hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Inhale to gently drop your lower belly and lift your sitting bones and sternum, or chest, then exhale to round your back and gaze toward your navel. The aim is to gently stretch and increase circulation to the back muscles. Do 5 slow rounds.

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Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Adho Mukha Svanasana

8-10 breaths, 1 minute total

Tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back. If you feel any tightness along the backs of your legs, keep your knees bent. Try to make your spine as long as possible by pressing into the pads of the palms, reaching through your arms, and lengthening the sides of your body. Keep your ears in line with your upper arms and gaze at your upper thighs.

See alsoAdjustments for Downward Dog

Locust Pose


4 times, 4 breaths each, 90-120 seconds total

Lower down to your belly with your arms resting along your sides. Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels by pulling your navel back, then inhale to lift your arms, legs, and head off the floor, thumbs pointing down and toes reaching for the wall behind you. Squeeze your inner thighs toward each other, without clenching your buttocks, to engage your inner thighs. These actions help reduce compression in your lower back. Your legs don’t have to touch. Stay here for 4 breaths, then lower down and repeat 3 more times.

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Low Lunge


8-10 breaths, 1 minute, each side

Come back to hands and knees and step your right foot forward between your hands, knee over ankle. Tuck your back toes and bring your hands to your front knee, keeping your arms relaxed. Lengthen your tailbone toward the ground and feel a stretch along the front of your left hip and leg, as well as your lower abdomen. Breathe, imagining you are creating space in the front of your left hip. On an exhalation, bring your hands down, then move through hands and knees and switch sides.

See alsoFine-Tune Your Alignment to Protect Your Knees

High Lunge

8-10 breaths, 1 minute, each side

Come back to a lunge on your right side, but this time straighten your left leg, which will intensify the stretch along the front of your left hip and torso. Bring your hands to your hips and try to keep your right knee over the right ankle and your right quadriceps parallel to the floor as you lengthen your tailbone and extend through your back heel. Inhale to lift your sternum and lengthen your entire spine. To come out of the pose, exhale to Low Lunge. Move through hands and knees and repeat on the left side.

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Extended Side Angle Pose

Utthita Parsvakonasana

8-10 breaths, 1 minute, each side

Return to High Lunge with your right foot forward. Place the left heel on the floor as you turn the pelvis to the left and reach your arms out, coming into Warrior II. Place your right forearm on your right thigh. Reach your left arm alongside your ear and gaze forward, making sure to not fold forward. Feel the stretch along your left side body and pull your navel back, feeling your tailbone lengthen toward your heels. Exhale to come back to High Lunge and switch sides.

END HERE with 3 minutes in Savasana