30-Minute Sequence to Ease Back Pain

Yoga teacher Andrea Ferretti offers 30 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 also Fine-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.

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One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

10 breaths, 1 minute, each side

Come back to your hands and knees. Bring your right knee behind your right wrist, sliding your right foot to the left and your left leg back. Be generous with props to avoid strain: Place a folded blanket or a pillow under your right hip. Press your fingertips into the ground alongside your hips, reach your tailbone down, and breathe. Return to hands and knees and switch sides.

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Marichyasana III

10 breaths, 1 minute, each side

Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and place the sole of the right foot on the floor next to your inner left thigh. Inhale to gently twist to the right to release muscles along the right side of your spine. Press your right fingertips into the ground behind you to stay tall—slumping can leave the low back vulnerable. Hold your outer right leg with your left hand. Exhale to release and switch sides.

See also Try This Twist Without Squaring Your Hips

Bridge Pose

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

3 times, 5 breaths each, 90-120 seconds total

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. With your tailbone reaching toward your heels, inhale to press into your feet and lift your pelvis and back off the floor. Interlace your fingers, pressing your shoulders into the floor as you lift your heart. Hug your inner thighs together, but keep your knees over your heels. Take 5 breaths, then lower down slowly. Repeat 2 more times.

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Supine Twist

8-10 breaths, 1 minute, each side

Draw both knees toward your chest and drop them to the right, trying to keep them in line with your hips. Place your right hand on your left knee to help ground your knees and look over your left shoulder. It’s OK if your left shoulder comes up, as long as you don’t feel strain. If you feel tension in your lower back, shift your hips more to the left or move your knees toward your feet. Come back to center on an inhalation. Switch sides.

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Corpse Pose


6 minutes

From a seated position, place a folded blanket or pillow under your knees. The idea is to elevate your knees enough so that your lower back can relax. Keep your natural lumbar curve here, too. Use your hands to support you as you lie back with your arms along your sides, palms turned up. Close your eyes and let your legs release and toes turn outward. With a deep exhalation, release any residual tension and allow your body to integrate the healthy work you just did.

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