Whether you have been experiencing years of chronic low back pain or are suffering from low back pain due to an injury or stress to your lower back, Yin yoga poses are designed to turn off your muscles in order to stretch the underlying connective tissue in your body. Regularly practicing Yin yoga poses for lower back pain relief will dramatically increase the mobility of your low back and hips while lowering the chance of injury in the future.
Slow Down with Yin Yoga
Including Yin yoga poses into your practice will begin to stretch the connective tissue responsible for holding everything inside of your body together. When the connective tissue in your lower back and hips becomes tight or damaged from years of inactivity, any sudden movement could stretch and possibly tear a tendon or ligament in your low back.
One of the reasons people who are in great shape still get lower back injuries is because even though they might have a lot of muscle, if they don’t also allow time to stretch their ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissue, overextension resulting in an injury is much more likely occur.
In order to stretch this connective tissue you must first completely relax the surrounding muscles. That’s why Yin yoga poses are normally held for much longer than regular stretches, usually anywhere from 2 – 5 minutes per pose.
If you want to be able to stretch your tendons or ligaments, which are much harder and more inflexible than muscle, you must first allow enough time to turn off the muscles causing tension to the tissue you want to stretch. Yin yoga poses force you to slow down and take the time needed to start healing the problems causing your lower back pain.
Yin Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain Relief
Since Yin yoga poses are meant to be held for much longer than you might normally be used to, warming your body and muscles up first with some lower back stretches will allow you to go deeper and hold the postures for longer. I personally like to do Yin yoga poses after a high-intensity practice like vinyasa yoga because my muscles are really loose and it is much easier to relax my muscles and stretch the connective tissue underneath.
Not all traditional yoga poses have a Yin counterpart because of the need to be able to completely relax the surrounding muscles. Because the muscles need to be completely relaxed it might be necessary to modify these poses with a block or other item in order to release the muscles completely.
Below are my favorite Yin yoga poses for lower back pain that provide immediate and long-lasting relief from the pain.
1. Seated Cross-Leg Forward Fold
A simple yet extremely effective Yin posture that is great for beginners is Seated Cross-Leg Forward Fold. This pose is great for stretching the connective tissue in your hips and lower back while being fairly easy to accommodate those that are not very flexible. As you advance in your practice and your body begins to loosen you will notice a clear difference in how close you are able to move your head to the floor.
Relief tip: Before attempting to fold forward it might be beneficial for you to first only sit up straight with your legs crossed in order to get your body used to sitting in this position for an extended period of time.
2. Sleeping Pigeon Pose
Commonly avoided by those suffering from sciatica due to the way it targets the hips, Sleeping Pigeon Pose is probably the most important Yin posture that you can practice if you have chronic low back pain. Although you might not be able to go very deep into the pose at first, continuing to work the connective tissue around your hips will drastically improve the mobility of your hip joints.
Relief tip: Place a block underneath your forehead or arms in order to deepen the stretch. This pose can also cause the hip of the leg behind you to shift the opposite way so try to keep your hips level with each other while in the stretch.
3. Reclined Butterfly Pose
One of my favorite Yin postures just because of how relaxing it can be is Reclined Butterfly Pose. This pose is also a great stretch to open up space in your hip joints, allowing your knees to open wider and stretching the connective tissue while releasing tension in your lower back and hip joints.
Relief tip: Be sure to keep your entire spine, including your low back, on the floor. It might be necessary to place blocks underneath your knees in order to completely relax in this pose.
4. Supine Spinal Twist
Another simple Yin posture that can have a huge effect on the health of your lower back and hips is Supine Spinal Twist. Adding twists into your Yin practice will also stretch the connective tissue surrounding your spine and internal organs allowing for increased mobility in your lower back.
Relief tip: Try to keep both of your shoulders as close to the ground as possible before trying to get your knee all the way to the ground. As long as your hips are in line while in the twist and your chest is open and shoulders are on the ground, you will feel the stretch working in your hips and lower back.
Consistent Practice for Long-Term Relief
The more time you allow in your practice for Yin yoga poses the faster you will see an increase in the mobility of your joints and muscles. Since the connective tissue in your body is mostly hard and inflexible, it is going to take time in order to loosen and heal the damaged tissue.
Starting a regular yoga practice is the best way you can start to actually find long-term relief from the pain while getting in the best physical and mental shape of your life. As long as you stick with it, yoga has the ability to heal chronic aches and pains in your body.
Whether you are already in great shape and want to dig deeper into your body to increase your overall mobility or haven’t worked out in years and suffer from chronic pain, starting slow and adding pressure overtime will allow you to find the results you are looking for.
How can you use Yin yoga poses to help relieve your lower back pain?
Stick With It!