One of the most rehabilitative postures you can do in yoga for back pain relief is Bird-Dog Pose due to how it works your core and lumbar spine muscles. As a beginner, Bird-Dog Pose will begin to build strength in these muscles that have weakened overtime that have allowed conditions like sciatica to cause chronic back pain, especially in your lower back. If performed using proper spinal alignment and hip flexion, Bird-Dog Pose will become one of your go-to poses for back pain relief.
What Is Bird-Dog Pose?
Bird-Dog Pose is a pose you might not commonly see in many traditional Vinyasa Yoga classes but if you are using yoga for back pain relief then it is a necessary pose that you should include in your stretching routine or yoga practice. Throughout this pose you should be using your core muscles and hip flexors instead of your lower back muscles to lengthen your spine. Working towards proper alignment from your fingers through your hips to your toes will allow you to get the most out of the pose and feel immediate relief from your back pain.
How To Perform Bird-Dog Pose
1. Start on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor directly below your shoulders and your hips aligned with your knees. Your neck should be in line-with your back and your gaze should be down or slightly forward in front of your nose.
2. Shift your weight into your left knee and slowly begin to lift your right leg off the ground and straighten it behind you while pointing your toes to the ground. As you lift your leg be sure to lift with your hips and your core muscles and not your lower back muscles. If you feel your lower back muscles tighten you have lifted your leg up too far and need to lower it to be in-line with your body.
3. Shift your weight onto your right hand and lift your left arm straight in front of you. Just like when you lifted your leg, use your core muscles and shoulder flexors to straighten your arm in-line with your body. Your fingers should be reaching forward with your palm facing you and your thumb facing towards the sky.
4. Making sure your entire body is a straight line from your arms down through your neck and spine to your legs and feet, begin to stretch your fingers as far forward as possible while keeping a straight spine.
5. While you are stretching your fingers forward, flex you foot so your toes are pointed to the ground and your heel is pushing behind you like if you were standing sideways on a wall.
6. Hold the full expression of your pose while keeping straight alignment for a few breaths and then do your other side.
Bonus! If you want a little more core work in this pose and you are confident you can keep proper alignment in your spine without using your lower back muscles to lift your leg, bring your lifted arm and knee in towards the center of your body for a slow crunch. Your elbow and knee should barely touch and then use your hips, shoulders, and core muscles to release back into Bird-Dog.
Benefits of Bird-Dog Pose
- Lengthens and aligns your spinal vertebrae
- Improves flexibility in your lower lumbar spine
- Releases tension in your lower back
- Increases range of motion in your shoulders and hips
- Strengthens core muscles
Yoga For Back Pain Relief
Bird-Dog Pose was one of the first postures that I was introduced to for my chronic lower back pain when I started my yoga practice with DDP Yoga due to the rehabilitative potential the pose has if done correctly. Combined with a regular yoga practice I was able to build strength in all of my muscles and find relief from my chronic back pain.
I’d like to say that it was easy and there was never a point that I thought the pain would never get better but as I stuck with it overtime the pain slowly started to subside. What I didn’t realize was that starting a regular yoga practice was going to bring up a lot of new pains in my body that had been buried under years of strained muscles and scar tissue. As those pains began to get worked out and my body got stronger, it was like a snowball effect and every time that I practiced I could actually feel my body healing more and more each day.
How has Bird-Dog pose helped with your back pain?
Stick With It!
This is a great step by step procedure for the bird-dog pose. I took a yoga class during college to help with back pain and it helped tremendously. This move in particular was one of my favorite because the lower back is the main problem area and I could really feel the tension subsiding after performing the pose. Great Job
That’s awesome that you already have done this pose to help relieve lower back pain. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!
Nate, I have a question regarding the bird/dog pose. I have sciatica and back pain and am now conscious of holding my spine correctly as per physical therapist. Looking into starting yoga. With the bird/dog pose is the small of the back flattened or am I supposed to allow the natural curve at the bottom of the spine to stay?
It’s great to hear that you’re interested in starting yoga to help with your sciatica and back pain. With bird/dog pose, it’s important to maintain a neutral spine to avoid causing discomfort in your lower back. This means keeping the natural curve of your lower spine, rather than flattening it completely. It’s always a good idea to consult with your physical therapist or a qualified yoga instructor to ensure proper alignment and modifications that can cater to your specific needs. Remember to listen to your body and take things at your own pace to avoid any potential injury.