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The lower back is one of the most common areas of the body where stiffness and tension can creep in. If you’re like many who are seated for most of the day, then chances are you’ve experienced low back pain at some point in your life. Without proper support and good posture, the muscles surrounding the lumbar region can become easily fatigued from being in a constant state of contraction. To add to this, the hips flexors and abdominal muscles in the front of the body can weaken and adaptively shorten making matters worse. Here are five effective yoga poses that target the low back and help open up the area.

1. Seated Spinal Twist: Come to a seated position on the floor with your legs outstretched before you. While keeping your right leg straight, bend your left knee and place it on the floor on the outside part of your right thigh. Slowly twist your torso to the left placing your left hand behind you and your right hand wrapped around your left knee. Inhale while you lengthen your spine. If you’d like to deepen the stretch, bend your right arm so the hand is pointing up towards the ceiling and place your elbow on the outside part of your bent knee. Using your elbow as leverage, take a deep breath in, press into your bent knee and see if you can take the stretch further. Remember to lengthen your spine and turn your head as well. Hold for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.



2. Cat/Cow: Begin by coming down onto your hands and knees. The arms should be directly under you about shoulder width apart with your palms face down. The knees are slightly apart and directly under the hips. Next, take a slow inhalation and on the out breath, round your spine and drop your head. This is what’s known as the “cat” portion of the pose. On your next inhalation, lift your head and tailbone towards the ceiling while allowing the rest of your torso to drop towards the floor. This is the “cow” portion of the pose.Slowly alternate between these two stretches for one to three minutes.



3. Child’s Pose: Start by kneeling on the floor with your hips shoulder width apart. Slowly bend forward from the hips until your head is resting comfortably on the floor. Extend your arms out in front of you and place your palms faces down with your fingers splayed out. Strive to lengthen your head, neck and spine away from your tailbone while taking nice slow, deep breaths. Hold this pose for one to three minutes.



4. Downward Facing Dog: Come up onto your hands and knees, much like the beginning of cat/cow with your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees hip width apart. Next, curl your toes underneath you while pushing the body back through your arms to raise your hips towards the ceiling and straightening the legs. Allow your head to drop comfortably between your arms. Hold this pose for one to three minutes while focusing on the breath.



5. Sphinx: Start by lying on your stomach with your legs together. Bring your elbows in towards your body so they’re underneath your shoulders and rest your forearms and palms face down on the ground. Next, take a nice deep breath in and on the exhale, lift your head and chest up off the ground while pressing your hips and thighs into the floor. Make sure your shoulders are nice and relaxed and you don’t over-extend your back. This gives the front of the body a nice stretch while slackening the lower back muscles. Hold this pose for one to three minutes.



Joe Azevedo is a New York State/NCBTMB Licensed Massage Therapist, ARCB Certified Reflexologist, Certified Thai Yogi, and an Advanced Reiki Practitioner. He is a graduate of the Swedish Institute and is the owner and founder of Brooklyn Reflexology.

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116 Clinton St, Brooklyn Heights
January 2020

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