Yoga for Lower Back Pain: 16 Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain

Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain Collage

Research studies show that 80% of America’s adults experience lower back pain at one point or another in their lives. Lower back pain can affect anyone ranging from people living a sedentary life as well as high-performing athletes.

The American College of Physicians recommends that people opt for non invasive and pharmacological treatment options before opting for surgery. A careful selection of yoga poses by a qualified and experienced yoga instructor can help to manage lower back pain.

Causes of lower back pain

Lower back pain is commonly associated with the compression of the spinal column. Spinal compression may result from a number of factors including natural degradation of spinal discs with age, an accident or injury.  The compression causes bursting of the inter-spinal gel exposing the nerves hence causing pain. For lower back pain caused by spinal compression, any yoga pose that lengthens the spine may be helpful

Spinal compression and herniated disc can also lead to a compression of the sciatica nerve resulting to sciatica. If you lower back pain is as a result of sciatica, here are 12 yoga poses for sciatica.

Poor posture is another common cause of lower back pain. Spending long hour throughout the day seated in the wrong posture can have adversely compromise the normal arch of your spine resulting to lower back pain. Building strong back muscles and building up on back flexibility can help to improve your posture. This is in addition to maintaining the right posture when seated, picking up things and even sleeping.

Strenuous exercise may overload the back causing lower back pain. Exercise within your fitness capabilities and maintain good form in every exercise. Take enough rest time, eat nutrient dense foods and hydrate regularly to promote proper recovery of the back muscles.

Dos and don’ts of managing lower back pain

  1. When doing forward bends and backbends, keep the knees slightly bent and the core muscles engaged. Avoid reaching down too far as it may overstretch your hamstrings and lower back muscles.
  2. Do not push too hard in any pose. Approach each pose with gentleness and mindfulness. This way you will quickly notice if a pose is aggravating your pain and immediately get out of it. On the other hand, if you find the pose effective, you will be patient to hold it as long as need be.
  3. Identify your triggers for back pain. Does doing certain activities cause a flare up. Do you feel the pain at specific times of the day?
  4. Focus on strengthening the back muscles over flexibility. While have a full range of motion is definitely helpful in maintaining spine health, when experiencing lower back pain, it is best to focus on strengthening.
  5. When bending down to pick up an item from the ground, hinge forward from the hip joint instead of rounding your back and bend your knees. To come up, engage your core and thighs to power your movement.
  6. Keep your feet hip-width apart when practicing standing poses and avoid turning the toes inwards or outwards.
  7. Ladies, avoid wearing high heeled shoes that are higher than 1 inch.
  8. When experiencing lower back pain, you may use pain relievers prescribed by your physician. You may lie down and rest until the pain subsides. However, aim to stay active throughout the day when you are not experiencing pain.
  9. Avoid doing strenuous exercises.
  10. If your chair or mattress are the main cause of your back pain, replace them with ergonomic ones.
  11. Strengthen your core muscles.  When your core muscles are weak, the lower back bares the weight of your body. However, care must be taken when doing core-strengthening muscles to prevent aggravating the back pain.

16 yoga poses for managing lower back pain

Yoga poses that strengthen the back, stretch the psoas muscles and hamstrings, and stabilize the spine and pelvis help in management of lower back pain. Below are 6 yoga poses to help you in managing lower back pain.

1.         Chair pose

The chair pose is vital for building back strength and core strength. Having a strong back and core means that you are able to carry your body weight and engage in other activities effectively without overloading the spine. It also builds stronger legs and stabilizes the pelvis. A stabilized pelvis helps in keeping the spinal column in its natural curvature.

1. Chair Pose
Chair Pose

How to do it.

  1. Come to standing in mountain pose, feet hip-width apart, hands beside your body.
  2. Sit back to a squat with your knees bent to a 45-75-degree angle depending on your flexibility.
  3. Draw your belly in and drop your tailbone downwards and inwards.
  4. Reach your hands up. Ideally, your biceps should be in line with your ears. However, you can drop the hands slightly forward if it puts too much pressure on your back.
  5. Drop your shoulders away from your ears.
  6. Draw your ribcage in and chest outwards.
  7. Keep the four corners of your feet grounded down.
  8. Hold for 5-10 breaths.


If you find it difficult to keep your hands up, you may position a chair in front of you and hold on to the back rest. Alternatively, you can rest your hands on your thighs and maintain the alignment described above.

2.         Cat/cow Pose

The cat cow/pose is an essential pose in managing lower back pain. As you arch and round your back continuously, it promotes circulation within the joint and blood flow to the surrounding muscles and tissues. It also promotes flexibility of the spinal column which is beneficial for easing tension on the lower back discs. It also fosters balance, focus and coordination.

2.a Cow Pose
Cow Pose

2.b Cat Pose
Cat Pose

How to do it

See instructions here.

3.         Side plank

The side plank strengthens the core, and lengthens and strengthens the back muscles.

3.Side Plank
Side Plank

How to do it

  1. Assume the downward facing dog position.
  2. Shift your weight forward until your wrists are stack directly above the shoulders in a plank position.
  3. Spin your heels and the entire body to the left so that only the left hand and outer edge of the left foot are in contact with the ground.
  4. Engage your core muscles, the biceps, triceps and thigh muscles to help you remain sturdy in the pose.
  5. Keep your oblique muscles engaged to avoid collapsing the weight of your body downwards.
  6. Draw your tailbone and belly inwards.
  7. Lift your right hand upwards. Star spread the fingers and engage the biceps and triceps.
  8. You may gaze straight ahead or turn your head to look look upwards.
  9. Hold for 5-10 breaths
  10. Come back to the downward facing dog and switch sides.


You may opt to drop the knee on the inner side down for better balance in the pose.

4.         Warrior III

The warrior III pose is beneficial for managing lower back pain as it elongates and stabilizes the spine, builds back and core strength, stabilizes the pelvis, and stretches the hamstrings. Additional benefits of warrior III include opening the chest, strengthening the quadriceps and calves as well as promoting balance.

4. Warrior III
Warrior III

How to do it

See instructions here

5.         Locust pose

The locust pose is a fundamental back strengthening pose in yoga.  Since it is done while lying on the ground on your belly, it takes away the extra load on the spine allowing you to focus on proper alignment. It strengthens the core, opens the chest, lengthens the spine, and tones the glutes and hamstrings.

5. Locust Pose
Locust Pose

How to do it

  1. Lie on your belly with legs extended.
  2. Keep toes untucked and feet hip-width apart to avoid putting pressure on your lower back.
  3. Reach your hands forward, biceps inline with the ears, and palms facing each other.
  4. Inhale, engage your core and lift your hands, head, chest and legs off the mat.
  5. As you exhale hold the lifted position.
  6. Avoid clenching your glute muscles as they cause the lower back to compress which could worsen your lower back pain.
  7. With every inhale aim to lift your body higher.
  8. Hold for 5-10 breaths


You may come up on the inhale and lower the entire body down on the exhale. Repeat for 5-10 times.

If lifting your hands and feet off the ground simultaneously is strenuous on your back, you can lift the hands, head and chest and keep the legs on the ground.

You may also take your hands beside your body.

6.         Locust pose upper body on the ground and legs lifted variation

This variation of the locust pose strengthens the lower back and tones the hamstrings and glutes. It also offers a gentle massage on the abdominal organs.

6. Locust Pose upper body down and legs lifted variation
Locust Pose with upper body on the ground and legs lifted variation


  1. Lie down on your stomach, feet extended in front and chin resting on the floor.
  2. Straighten your hands beside your body palms facing upwards.
  3. Keeping your legs straight and slightly separated, lift your legs off the ground as high as you can.
  4. Flex your toes to point backwards.
  5. Keep the pelvis and entire upper body resting on the floor.
  6. Hold for 5-10 breaths


For extra comfort and support on the pose, you may place a blanket or rolled mat beneath your thighs.

You may opt to take half locust pose where you only lift one leg, hold for 5 breaths and then switch sides.

7.         Knees to chest with slow rock

The knee to chest pose is a classical yoga asana with therapeutic benefits for lower back pain. When coupled up with a slow rock either side to side or back and forth, it offers a gentle massage to the lower back that helps relieve pain. It also stabilizes and aligns the spine as your release the weight of your body to the ground. Furthermore, it massages the abdominal organs promoting digestion and detoxification – constipation can worsen lower back pain.

7. Knees To Chest Pose
Knees to chest pose

How it to do it

  1. Lie on your back with legs extended forward.
  2. Draw your knees towards your chest.
  3. Interlace your fingers and firmly rest them on your shins, to nudge the knees nearer to your chest. This allows your upper and middle back to ground down and for a deep stretch on the lower back.
  4. Hold for 5-10 breaths.


For added comfort, you may place a thin blanket under your neck or head.

For a deeper stretch on the lower back, draw your knees inwards and forward towards your chin.

If your belly or chest does not allow you to comfortably draw the knees to the chest, separate your knees slightly wider than hip-width apart.

8.         Supported Bridge Pose

The bridge pose is a must-do yoga pose for combating lower back pain. it not only strengthens the lower back muscles and the entire back, but it also strengthens and release tension off the glutes. Tight glutes and hamstring can be a contributing factor to compressed lower back. It also lengthens the lower back allowing for release of tension in that area. When your are experiencing lower back pain, you may rest in the supported bridge pose, otherwise you can focus on the full-expression bridge pose to build back strength.

8.Supported Bridge Pose
Supported Bridge Pose

How to do it

See instructions here.

9.         Triangle pose

The triangle pose is pivotal in managing lower back pain because it strengthens the back, stabilizes the spine, and stretches and elongates the entire spinal and thoracic column. It also strengthens and stretches the legs, releases tension off the glutes and hamstrings. It opens the hips, stabilizes the pelvis, and strengthens the core and oblique muscles.

9. Triangle Pose
Triangle Pose

How to do it.

See instructions here.

10.   Half Split

The half split is a beginner-friendly hamstring opening pose that not only prepares the body for advanced hip openers, but also helps in relieving lower back pain. It offers a deep stretch to the hamstring of the extended leg. It also stretches the psoas muscles, calves, and lower back.

10. Half Split
Half Split

How to do it

  1. Start in a low lunge position on the left side, with the right knee dropped to the ground.
  2. Lean backwards and shift the weight of your body to your right hip and right knee.
  3. Straighten your left leg so that it is resting on the heel.
  4. Lengthen your torso and lean downwards to drop your palms to the ground.
  5. Hold for 5—10 breaths.
  6. Switch sides


Avoid rounding you back rather, keep an active core and chest, and a neutral spine.

If you have difficulty getting your hands to the ground, rest each hand on a block.

Place a soft blanket under the knee that is on the ground to protect it from the pressure of the hard surface.

11.   Two knees supine twist

A supine twist can be helpful in managing lower back pain as it offers a gentle massage to the lower lumbar column, and strengthens the upper and middle back. The two knees supine twist pose releases tension on the lower back and stabilizes the pelvis which promotes spine mobility and flexibility. It also massages the abdominal organs promoting digestion and detoxification.

11. Two knees supine twist
Two Knees Supine Twist

How to do it.

  1. Lie on your back and draw your knees towards your belly.
  2. Spread your arms out on the ground perpendicular to the torso.
  3. Keep the torso on the ground and from your waist twist to drop both knees to your left. Keep both knees and heels in line.
  4. For a deeper twist, firmly rest your left hand on your knees and keep the right hand extended.
  5. Look up.
  6. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
  7. Bring your knees back to the center and switch sides.


Place a block between your knees to keep the pelvis centered.

12.    Seer Pose

The seer pose is another essential spinal twist for relieving lower back pain.  it stabilizes the pelvis, and lengthens and strengthens the back muscles. It is an intermediate-advanced level pose that requires quadriceps and hip flexibility. As such, if you are not able to do it, take the modifications provided below.

12. Seer Pose
Seer Pose

How to do it

  1. Sit on the ground with your spine tall and legs extended forward.
  2. Bend your right knee and take the leg backwards so that the inner edge of your right shin and foot are in contact with the outer edge of the outer right thigh and right buttock, respectively.
  3. Bend your left knee place the left foot on top of the right thigh.
  4. Place your left hand on your right knee.
  5. From the base of your torso, lengthen your spine and twist to your right.
  6. Hold for 5-10 breaths
  7. Switch sides.


Sit on a block or rolled mat to give you a better access to the pose.

If your hamstrings are too tight, take the foot of the folded legs outwards more and place the foot that would be otherwise on top of the knee on the ground.

13.   Easy pose with hands over the head

The easy pose variation with hands extended above the head elongates the spine, strengthens the shoulders and back muscles, and centers the pelvis. It also lengthens and strengthens the sides of the body allowing alignment of the spinal column.

13. Easy Pose with Hands overhead
Easy Pose with Hands Over the Head

How to do it

  1. Sit with legs crossed at the shins.
  2. Lengthen your torso and extend your hands above your head.
  3. Your may interlace your fingers and turn your palms to face upwards or bring your palms togethers.
  4. Maintain a long neck and draw your ears away from the shoulders.
  5. Hold for 5-10 breaths.


You may sit on a folded blanket or block for added comfort.

14.   Caterpillar pose

The caterpillar pose is a yin-yoga variation of the seated forward bend. It decompresses the lower back and releases tension off the hamstrings. It also has relaxing and soothing effects to help you relieve stress. In the caterpillar pose, you use props to support yourself in the pose. Unlike in the traditional forward fold where you keep the spine straight, in the caterpillar pose you round the middle and upper back.

14. Caterpillar Pose
Caterpillar Pose

How to do it

  1. Sit up right on the ground with legs extended in front.
  2. Fold a blanket or roll a yoga mat and place it underneath your knees.
  3. Place a block between your shins or a pillow or a folded blanket onto of your knees.
  4. Hinge forward from your hip joint and rest your head on the pillow or block.
  5. Round your upper and middle back and keep the shoulders drawn away from the ears.
  6. Place your hands beside your legs.
  7. Hold for 5-10 breaths.


You may bend your knees to point upwards and rest your forehead on them while maintaining a rounded back.

15.   Crocodile pose with one knee bent variation

This is a restorative pose that you can rest in for as long as you need to especially when you are experiencing lower back pain. It releases tension on your lower back while opening the glutes. Since you are lying on your belly, it eases the load of your body weight off your sine allowing it to align. It also opens the hips, inner thighs and stabilizes the pelvic floor.

15. Crocodile Pose with one knee bent
Crocodile Pose with one Knee Bent

How to do it

  1. Lie on your belly with legs extended, in crocodile pose.
  2. Bend your right knee to form a 75 to 90-degree angle.
  3. Place your hands on both sides beside your head, elbows bent to a right angle.
  4. Rest your head on the left cheek.
  5. Hold for 1-3 minutes.
  6. Come back to crocodile pose and switch sides.


You may hold the pose for longer up to 5 minutes on each side.

Your may also place a blanket under your shoulders and head for added comfort.

You may opt to interlace your forearms in front of you and rest your forehead on them.

16.   Corpse Pose with Supported Knees

End your practice with the corpse pose with a blanket or rolled mat placed underneath your knees. The blanket elevates your knees and allows the lower back to get grounded and the spine to assume its natural arch. You may rest in the corpse pose when you are experiencing a lower back pain flare up. Hold the pose for at least 3 minutes or for as long as you need to.

16. Corpse Pose with Supported knees
Corpse Pose with Supported Knees

How to do it

See instructions for doing the corpse pose here.


Note that while one pose may help one person to alleviate lower back pain, the same pose may trigger pain in another person. Try out the poses above and if any of them worsens the pain, get out the pose immediately. It may be more effective to incorporate a multidisciplinary treatment approach that incorporates physical therapy, stress reduction practices such as meditation, acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic among others.