Breathe Away Back Pain

When I ask my private clients what brings them to the practice of yoga, the number one answer I hear is: back pain.

As our jobs, commutes, and lifestyles are becoming increasingly sedentary, our lower backs are becoming increasingly compressed. Eventually, our bodies start to communicate through pain and discomfort that we need to do something different.

Something like yoga.

In 2012, Occupational Medicine published the results of an eight-week study observing the effects of yoga on 74 employees within a British government office. The researchers gave one group a weekly 50-minute yoga class, and allowed a control group to remain seated as they were. At the end of the study period, the yogi test group reported significantly lower levels of stress, hostility, and sadness than the sedentary control group. The yogis also beat out their chair-bound colleagues in another key metric: less back pain.

When my clients ask me about poses for stretching their backs, I have found that they usually need to focus first on relaxing their hamstrings and hips, which in turn releases pressure in the lower back and gives them relief. My two favorite sequences to reduce back pain are supine twists and forward folds. As always, consult a doctor before trying a new exercise program.

If you have the time (which we all do!), try to practice these two poses twice a day: once in the morning and again in the evening.

Supine Twist:

Lie on your back.

Bring your knees into your chest.

Bring your arms out to a T.

Drop your knees over to the right – maybe gaze left.

Hold for a count of 30.


Repeat on the other side.


Forward Folds:

Stand nice and tall. Feet are a couple inches apart, hands are in front of your heart.

Inhale, bring your arms overhead.

Exhale, fold forward. Knees are bent.

Maybe sway back and forth, shaking your head yes and no.

Hold for a count of 30.


With knees bent, inhale. Lift your body up, raising your arms to the sky.

Bring hands back in front of your heart.


See you on the mat!