The Lower Back

“Physical health is not a commodity to be bargained for. It has to be earned through sweat.”

- Iyengar

Anatomical Focus – Lower Back

The lower back is one part of the body that can benefit from the consistent and informed practice of yoga. Through the mindful exercise of suitable poses, we can provide the strength and flexibility our body needs to keep the spine supported and healthy.

Lower back issues are prevalent. Statistics Canada reports that four out of ten Canadians will experience lower back pain in their lives, and for 20% of the population between 40 and 49 years old, it will become an ongoing condition. Increasingly, doctors are recommending yoga to their patients to help alleviate lower back pain, and while yoga is an excellent way to maintain a healthy back and fix an unhealthy one, it is very important that you approach your practice from an informed perspective and with realistic expectations. Here are some points to consider when doing yoga for the lower back.

Be Committed. As Iyengar says, we have to work to get what we want. If you are truly serious about improving lower back health you should practice for at least 30 minutes three to four times a week.

Be Patient and be Prudent. Practice carefully and never move yourself into a position that causes pain. Take it easy, especially at first, and do not over do it. Respect your personal limitations and look for gradual improvement overtime. I strongly suggest you read Ease On Back from Yoga Journal. It provides excellent guidance on many important points including level of effort and alignment. Another good article is Easy Seat , also from the Yoga Journal.

Feature Pose – Seated Forward Bend

This is a great pose to bring mobility to the lower back, keeping in mind the need to lengthen hamstrings to eventually find the full benefit of the pose.  For instructions on how to complete the pose and detailed information such as benefits, modifications, and cautions please check out the Seated Forward Bend at the Yoga Journal.