5 Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Back Pain

5 Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Back Pain

By Will Allen, Co-Founder of MyYogaTeacher

At some point in life, you’re bound to experience the uncomfortableness of back pain. For some people, back pain is a regular part of their lives, debilitating even.

Since every single movement you make, from big moves like squat jumps to tiny moves, such as writing, involve some level of back mobility, any form of back pain is noticeable. And until you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s hard to understand the deep desire many have to get relief from their back discomfort.

In the meantime, here are five yoga poses that provide back pain relief.

1. Cat-Cow (Chakravakasana)

Practicing yoga poses for your back for even a few minutes a day can reduce or even eliminate back discomfort. 

The Cat-Cow pose is accessible by almost any level of yogi, any fitness level, at almost any age. This backbend stretches the spine and encourages spinal mobility while also stretching the hips, torso, shoulders, and neck. Cat-Cow also allows for the release of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints of the body.

Cat-Cow pose

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get on your hands and knees on the floor or a mat.
  2. Wrists should be directly underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
  3. Balance your weight evenly between all four points.
  4. Inhale as you look up, gently lift your hips, and let your stomach drop down toward the mat.
  5. Exhale as you tuck your chin into your chest, draw your navel toward your spine, and arch your spine toward the ceiling.
  6. Be aware of your body and how it feels as you do this movement.
  7. Focus on releasing tension from your body, particularly the neck and spine.
  8. Continue this fluid movement for at least 1 minute.

Note that this pose is not about swaying your back and releasing your core. It’s about lifting your hips up until there is a slight bend in your spine while also keeping your core engaged.

2. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

One of the most common poses you’ll practice in yoga is Downward-Facing Dog (or Down Dog). This yoga pose is a part of Sun Salutations and is considered an inversion. Inversions are rejuvenating, increase blood flow, and build strength.

Down Dog relieves back pain and sciatica by stretching out the lower back, the hips, and hamstrings, which are all connected. It also helps improve imbalances in the body.

Downward-Facing Dog

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get on all fours.
  2. Wrists should be directly underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
  3. Gently press some of your weight into your hands, tuck your toes under, and lift up your knees. They do not have to be straight.
  4. Lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
  5. Keep a slight bend in your knees (or a deeper bend if your hamstrings are tight) and lengthen your spine and tailbone.
  6. Keep your heels slightly off the ground.
  7. Keep your weight evenly distributed through both hands, both sides of your body, and your legs.
  8. Your head should remain in line with your upper arms or with your chin tucked in slightly.
  9. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

You will certainly feel your arms and shoulders working in this pose, but do not allow this to cause your body to tense up. Continue to release tension in your back, hips, and hamstrings. You may even want to alternate bending one knee at a time.

3. Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

This restorative pose, most commonly known as reclined spinal twist or two-legged spinal twist, stretches your spine, back, and shoulders and helps release tension in your lower and upper back. This release allows you to have more flexibility and mobility in your spine as well as reduces back pain. 

Yoga for back pain is often static (like in yin yoga) but does usually involve some movement.

Reclined Spinal Twist

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees drawn into your chest and your arms outstretched to your sides.
  2. Inhale. On the exhale, slowly lower your legs to the left side while keeping your knees as close together as possible. You may use a block or bolster underneath your knees if you can’t comfortably get them to the floor.
  3. You can use your left hand to gently press down on your knees if you wish.
  4. Keep your neck neutral, or turn it to either side.
  5. Focus on slow, deep belly breaths in this position.
  6. Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.

Alternatively, this pose can be modified for more or less movement. You may choose to gently swing your knees up and over from side to side or hold each side for much longer if you choose. If you choose to make this pose more mobile, be sure to use your breath to control each movement, not momentum!

4. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

Extended triangle pose is a classic standing posture that alleviates back pain, sciatica, and neck pain. It also provides a good stretch to hamstrings, inner thighs, calf muscles, groin, and hips. 

If you are not very flexible, be sure to have a block or chair handy. Or you can place your outstretched hand on your ankle, shin, or thigh.

Extended Triangle Pose

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place your feel more than shoulder’s width apart, approximately 3-4 feet.
  2. Turn your right toes to face the front of your mat, and your left toes out at a 45 degree angle.
  3. Lift your arms parallel to the floor, palms down.
  4. Reach out with your right arm as far as you can without strain, and tilt forward.
  5. Hinge at your right hip to come forward with your arm and torso.
  6. Bring your hand to your leg, a yoga block, or onto the floor as previously discussed. Even a chair will do if needed.
  7. Extend your left arm up toward the ceiling.
  8. Look up, forward, or down.
  9. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
  10. Repeat on the opposite side.

We encourage you to hold all of these poses for back pain at least 1 minute. Longer is usually better, as it gives your body time to adjust to the pose and your muscles time to release tension and stretch out, which is what provides that much needed back pain relief.

5. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Finally! The yoga pose everyone loves – child’s pose.

Child’s pose is a gentle forward bend and a restorative pose. Not only is child’s pose great for relieving back and neck pain, it also stretches out the hips, lengthens the spine, and can help ease headaches.

It’s also a very simple pose that pretty much anyone can do!

Child’s Pose

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Sit on your knees and gently back on your heels.
  2. Use a bolster or blanket under your thighs, torso, or forehead for support, if needed or if you have knee problems.
  3. Bend forward and walk your hands out in front of you.
  4. Rest your forehead gently on the floor, a bolster, or a block.
  5. Keep your arms extended in front of you or bring your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up.
  6. Focus on releasing tension in your back as your upper body falls heavy into your knees.
  7. Remain in this pose for up to 5 minutes.


Will Allen is a passionate yogi, meditation practitioner, and co-founder of MyYogaTeacher.  He left a career in aerospace engineering to pursue his passion and make the world a better place through yoga and meditation. Follow MyYogaTeacher on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about how yoga can improve overall health.

Latest from Lifestyle