Yoga For Back Pain – Yoga Basics
Yoga For Back Pain – Yoga Basics
What’s up everyone, welcome to Yoga with Adriene, I’m Adriene. Welcome to our new yoga room. This is our first video back in the new yoga room, or our first yoga video anyway back in the new yoga room. So I welcome you, help me christen it with some yoga basics.
If you haven’t seen the free audiobook Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide make sure you check it out. It’ll change how you look at Yoga.
This month we’re kind of getting back to basics and today we’re going to do back pain. Well, we’re not gonna do back pain, but we’re gonna kind of address back pain and really just spend some time on the floor remembering that your yoga practice has your back. Welcome to the new room, it’s probably gonna change. We might paint it, we might even move to another room, who knows. But I think that this practice in particular, especially since it’s for the back, and just our yoga practice in general is awesome for teaching us to find support from within and of course, to go with the flow. So let’s hop on the mat and get started: Alright my friends, so today we’re gonna begin on our backs.
Take your time getting there, maybe take a full body stretch when you land. And begin to notice your breath as we begin. Take a second to notice, some of you have probably heard me say this before, that your yoga mat or your yoga practice, your yoga, has your back. Literally in this moment, right? Bring the hands to your ribs, bring your feet to the outer edges of your mat, and then allow the knees to fall in. Take your time getting here, no rush. Then lift your lower back, lift your pelvis and see if you can just tuck the tailbone in, maybe reaching it up towards the sky.
So we’re just lengthening out through the lower back, basically. Then we’ll draw the shoulder blades in and together and down, so we’re just crawling those shoulder blades underneath you so we can open up through the chest. And we soften through the belly, kind of soften through the bowl of the pelvis here. Best you can, all these subtle body things come with time, so if you’re super new to the yoga practice, try not to get too caught up on these things. Just settle in and be where you’re at today, of course. So the best tip for beginners, for me, or like the most important yoga basic is to use your breath as a barometer. So today is gonna be nice and yummy, but as we continue through the yoga basics and you begin to amp up your practice, stick with your breath.
So that’s why today we’re gonna close the eyes and take a moment to just notice your breath now, this natural breath. So nothing fancy, nothing forced. See if you can soften through the skin of your face. So you might be clenching your eyebrows right now or the eyes, maybe clenching in the jaw. Just give yourself a second to relax and notice the natural rhythm, the natural ebb and flow of your breath. And perhaps you’ll find, I tend to find that just by noticing my breath, I begin to play with it. Maybe extending the inhale, maybe lengthening the exhale.
Noticing if it’s a deep breath, morning or day or night, or shallow breath. Then beginning to play with that just a little bit. A couple of mindful breaths here. And I always say just a couple of mindful breaths can really change what’s going on in the mind, your mental capacity can really change your day. Let’s take one more deep breath in here. And then one big breath out. And then we’ll slowly begin to heel toe, heel toe.
So here’s a beginner basic thing: when you hear that in class, we mean heel to the earth, toes in. Heels in, toes in. And that’s what heel toe, heel toe means. So we heel toe the feet together.
Ugh, the more I say it the more I’m like, so dumb: And then we’ll scoop the knees slowly up towards the heart. So we’re moving nice and slow today. That way if you are in a moment of back pain, you’re moving mindfully and with ease. And if not, you’re just slowing things down for a change, working on preventative care. Hug the knees into the chest nice and slow. We scoop the tailbone up again, lengthening through the lower back body, and we relax the shoulders, still crawling the shoulder blades underneath so we can open up through the chest and the heart.
Cool. Bring the palms to the kneecaps here, we’re just gonna draw slow circles so we get a little massage in the lower back body. And when you feel comfortable, go ahead and take your gaze off the video, you might even close your eyes, and just begin to notice what’s going on as you massage through the sacrum here. And then we begin to lay the breath in, using the breath to inspire the movement.
And using the movement to inspire the breath, in return. Take your circle in the opposite direction of you haven’t already. Maybe you’re already doing your own groove thing, you know I like that. And then we’ll draw the knees back to center and we’ll use the palms gently on the knees to kind of create an oar like motion here. So the feet can stay soft here at first and we’re just gonna draw the knees wide. Open.
And then in through center, scoop the tailbone up and keep going. I wanted you to start with the feet soft here just so you could feel the difference when you point the toes or just kind of add brightness. You might find those yogi toes, spreading the toes. Energy in the feet. Notice how when we have energy in the feet we can still keep the slow controlled movement, but we kind of support the stretch. Sometimes teachers refer to hugging the muscle to the bones and that’s just kind of activating everything so you can move with integrity. And this is really great as you deepen your practice. So you may not feel that at first, but if you’e been practicing for a while and you’re doing this video with me, this is something that we need to start paying attention to.
Activating from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet to create a full body experience. So if you’re like, I have no idea what you’re talking about, just enjoy this stretch, enjoy your practice, keep breathing. Let’s do one more big circle here. Awesome. And then we’re gonna slowly press the soles of the feet back down to the earth, and these are going to hug in, heels in line with the hip points. So we’re definitely paying attention to alignment in action in these videos this month. Notice if the shoulders have started to tense up again, you can crawl the shoulder blades back underneath you, open up through the chest and the heart.
Cool. Keep the left foot down on the earth, all four corners of your left foot, so even here we pay attention to foundation. Not just in warrior three or tree pose, balancing postures. Even here, connectivity. As you inhale, slide your right leg all the way up towards they sky, maybe straighten that leg here. Maybe it’s a little tight, no worries.
Be in the moment. So as we begin to bring focus to the right leg, the left leg wants to spill out, so we’ll hug the left leg in. Again, stay connected to your foundation. Left foot strong.
Back to basics today, really paying attention to building our practice from the ground up, really gonna help. So whether we can extend the leg or not, we can find a little micro movement, maybe bending the knee and then straightening the leg, maybe pointing and flexing the toes, rotating the ankle. This is great in general, just letting the blood flow in the opposite direction, especially if you tend to be on your feet a lot. So good. Then I’ll interlace the fingertips behind my right thigh. If you’re super tight and you want to pause the video to grab like a tie or a towel, or if you’re lucky enough to have a yoga strap or one of those physio bands, you know you can strap it around the ball joint there and then use it kind of like an arm extender. Tailbone scoops up, lengthening the lower back body.
Once again, stay mindful there. We might just stay here or we might inhale again and on an exhale slowly peel the crown of the head up towards the sky. Shoulders are gonna stay relaxed here, my friends. Tailbone scooping up. Notice how your yoga practice has your back here. Interesting sensations right? In the sole of the foot right now, blood flowing in the opposite direction. Take one more breath and then use your exhale to slowly melt it down. Awesome.
Take your right ankle, cross it on over to the top of your left thigh and we take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Awesome. Interlacing behind the left thigh this time, right hand’s gonna go through the hole and catch the left fingertips here, then I’m going to bring awareness through both feet here. So flexing, really showing the sole of your foot off here, right shin parallel to the ceiling. Cool, if you’re new to the practice and you’re tight, you might just stay here using your right elbow maybe to press the right leg out.
Notice how the lower back wants to come up here and we’re gonna keep maintaining that length by scooping the tailbone up. Cool, go ahead and tuck your chin into your chest to lengthen though the back of your neck just in case you’re stuck here. And then again, you can stay here, or we might extend the left leg all the way up. And continue to squeeze that left leg in towards the heart. So we’re here, breathing into the outer right hip, staying long in the lower back body, relaxed in the shoulders, or we’re here just kind of adding that hamstring stretch, finding that sit bone to heel connection.
Cool, big breath in and we use the exhale to slowly release, nice and slow. Cool. Unravel, right foot comes to the ground, and we take a big breath in as we find all four corners of the right foot and lift the left foot up high. So if you’re an experienced yogi, you might wanna just blow through this. Like, oh I need faster tempo. So I encourage you, if you’re feeling frustrated, to just kind of slow it down, chill it out with me and feel your yoga mat rise up to support your back body.
If you’re new to the practice and this feels super foreign to you, notice that. Embrace that too, take note, because in a month you’re gonna want to remember where you began and how much you’ve evolved and grown. But don’t take my word for it! Just kidding. Okay, here we go. So whether that leg is straight or not, you might begin to find a little micro movement. Man, I stubbed my toe big time, it looks black and blue. Classy. And I’ll interlace the fingertips behind the left thigh this time.
Again, I’m maintaining a nice strong foundation in my right foot, expanding my awareness. Scoop your tailbone up, lengthen through the lower back body. Keep breathing. And then I can stay here, inhale in, or I might exhale, slowly peel the nose up, shoulders stay relaxed. Shouldn’t be any pain here, so keep a nice spaciousness between your chin and your chest. Definitely activating the abdominals here.
Perfect, and important for back body strength. Big breath in, use your exhale to release. Awesome, we’re gonna take that left ankle over to the top of the right thigh and we just notice what’s going on. Slowing it down, nice and easy.
So if your pelvis wants to twerk. Twerk? I meant torque. But twerk, too. You know, yoga’s great because we’re challenging the body’s natural habits that we create when we sit at a desk or sleep on our sides, all this stuff, body history. So just notice. And then we’ll interlace behind the right thigh, lifting the right shin parallel to the ceiling and we find our stretch here. So you can play with how much you squeeze.
For most, just kind of coming into this shape is enough. Maybe pressing the left elbow into the left inner thigh, if that works for you. Keeping the chest nice and open, guys, and making sure we haven’t grown really tense in the shoulders, so we keep relaxing in the shoulders and the neck. We have a little energy, a little brightness connecting through both feet. You might take a deep breath in here and just stay here. Or you might take a deep breath in and begin to extend that right leg all the way up.
Find your breath. Nice long smooth deep breaths. On an exhale, gently release. Both feet come to the mat. Inhale, reach the arms up and overhead. Exhale, slowly hug your knees into your chest one more time. This time you can rock a little back and forth, find what feels good, and then whenever you’re ready, we’re going to bring the hands to the backs of the thighs and begin to rock it up. So this is a great little massage for the spine, connecting to a little playful energy here.
Maybe rock once, twice, three times a lady. Or man. And we’ll come to all fours. Nice and slow, take your time getting there, no need to rush. So we’ll stack the hips right over the kneecaps, really paying attention to the tops of the feet here, getting a stretch.
Notice if the toes come in or come out, we’re gonna draw them right in line with the knees, ankles in line. Then bring your awareness to your wrists right underneath the shoulders. Spread your palms super wide like starfish and then press away from your yoga mat coming into table top position. Take a deep breath in and a long breath out. Find the extension through the crown of the head, so if your spine is kind of coming down here, see if you can bring your gaze straight down and lengthen through the neck. Cool, big breath in. Big breath out. And on your next inhale let’s begin to drop the belly and open the heart towards the front.
Tailbone reaches up towards the sky. On an exhale, start with the tail, begin to curl it under, tuck it in. We crawl up through the spine, nice and slow today, so resist the urge to rush. I do it all the time too.
We’re so used to moving in a hurried and rushed way, so unhurried and unrushed here as you draw your chin to your chest, navel up, and press into your yoga mat. Awesome, keep it going in your own time with the rhythm of your breath. Inhale, reach the tailbone up towards the sky, stretch the front body, lots of space in the spine, nice and slow. And on your exhale, doesn’t matter if you’re in rhythm with me, you can move with you breath. We’ll begin to curl the tailbone under, rounding through the spine.
Take a couple more on your own, see if you can connect to the sound of your breath. Finish it up. Awesome. Then come back to table top position. Curl the toes under. Walk the palms out just a hair. And then with the knees bent, we’re gonna lift the hips up to downward facing dog.
Again, knees stay bent here, so lots of love for the back as we press away from our yoga mat. Draw the shoulders away from the ears, knees bent generously. Melt your belly and your lower ribcage to the tops of your thighs. Melt your heart towards the back edge of your yoga mat. Take a deep breath in, the deepest breath you’ve taken in all day. And then on an exhale, we begin to straighten through the left leg, right knee stays bent. Inhale, bend both knees. Exhale, straighten through the right leg.
So we’re obviously just pedaling it out here. Inhale to center. Exhale, left heel drops down. Inhale to center, right heel drops down.
One more time, on each side. Inhale to center, shoulders draw away from the ears. Exhale, left heel reaches, doesn’t even matter if it comes anywhere close to the yoga mat. Inhale to center and right leg extends. Awesome, slowly lower to the knees, knees come together. We come onto the tops of the feet, we rotate the wrists, shake it out if you need to, and we come into balasana.
So really mindful child’s pose today. Knees are together, big toes are together, we’re gonna allow the shoulders to round forward and releasing slowly the head to the mat. Now, if this is not jiving with you, some options are to use a little blanket between the knees if that’s hurting you, can also lift the earth up to you with a block or pillow for the head. If this is not a comfortable position for you because of your torso, then you can take the knees wide and practice in an extended child’s pose here. Okay? But give balasana a try and ultimately, listen to your body, right? A couple breaths here, nice and slow.
Inhale, fill your back with air. So, see if you can feel the skin of your back body stretch as you inhale in. And then on your exhale, imagine the weight of your buttocks, your hips, kind of dropping down, melting down to kiss the soles of your feet as you breath out. So there’s a lot of stuff we can do in these beautiful, simple restorative poses. Close your eyes for one more breath cycle. You got it.
Awesome. Then we’ll slowly draw the palms back up, come to all fours. Come back to your table top position, doing awesome everyone, just a couple more poses and then we’re done. So, stick with the mindfulness here. We’re just gonna shake the, shift, not shake, shake! Shift the hips to the right and send the crown of the head to the left, just nice side body stretch here, big breath. And then through center, opposite side. Hips shift to the left, crown of the head to the right stretch and then back to center, awesome. Extend the right leg out here, big breath in.
On your exhale, we’re slowly drawing the right knee all the way up in for a one legged pigeon. So you might need to walk your palms out here, and then slowly we hike that right leg up. Slide the left leg back, we have a foundational video for this so you can check it out. Then we’re just gonna play with how close or how far the right heel is.
So listen to your body, move nice and slow as if you’re moving through water here. Connect to your breath, press into your fingertips, big breath in as you inhale, see if you can find space through the front body. So it might look like this, it might not. Just be in the moment with your breath. And then, yogi’s choice, you can stay lifted here or you can begin to melt it over for a couple breaths. Pulling gently back in the right hip crease, staying active in the feet as we’ve mentioned all through this practice.
And then finding your bliss here for just a couple breaths. Use the palms to gently walk yourself back up and if you’re already up, we’ll slowly begin to curl the left toes under and come back to all fours. Nice and slow, though. Again, imagine moving through water, just kind of honor your body. Cool, and inhale, extend the left leg out. And same thing on the other side. You’re walking the palms forward if you need to and we find it here. Nice and slow.
Playing with how close or how far your left heel is here. I encourage you to loop the shoulders, maybe find a gentle lift in the heart wherever you are. And then maybe we experiment with coming forward, maybe not. Couple breaths here, go ahead and close your eyes or just draw your attention inward, notice what’s going on. Feel the whole body connected. So we’re going for 110% full body experience here. Just do your best.
Gently using the palms to press back up. This time we’re gonna go ahead and shift our weight onto our left hip and swing the right leg all the way around. Go ahead and extend the legs out long, coming to stiff pose: The was hilarious, stiff pose. I mean staff pose, but I’m feeling kind of stiff, so. It’s good to be back! Go ahead and take the fleshy part of the buttocks aside.
If it feels right, you can press into the heels, feet can be flushed together or hip width apart. Tops of the thigh bones draw down, we bring the palms behind us or the fingertips lifted and we just stand up nice and tall through the spine. So crown of the head lifts, lower belly draws in. Maybe you’re familiar with uddiyana bandha, this idea of drawing the navel lock in and up so it kind of cultivates an energy here, a lifting, if you will.
One more breath. It’s hard work. Press into the heels. And exhale. On your next inhale, reach the fingertips up towards the sky, reach reach reach. And the exhale bend the knees, soften through the knees and take it forward. Tops of the thighs and the belly become one, so bend your knees as generously as you need to here.
Then go ahead and allow the weight of the head to relax over. Breathing from the tip of the tailbone, all the way to the crown of the head. And if you’re like, what the heck does that mean, just maybe close your eyes and imagine a line from the crown of your head to the tip of your tailbone, and then breathe deeply as you relax your shoulders, each exhale relaxing the shoulders. You can play with straightening the legs here, of course. Alright, take one more deep breath in here and then you use your exhale to unravel and release back up.
Awesome. Go ahead and send your seat towards the front edge of your mat so that you can bring the hands behind the thighs and slowly roll it down. So nice and slow, best you can, there will be that breaking point. And then we continue the journey down. Awesome, we’re gonna end today’s practice with a reclined twist.
Again, feel the earth rising up to support your spine, feel your yoga practice, your yoga mat having your back in this moment, feel that support. Hug the knees into the chest. Then we’ll send the fingertips out left to right, Texas T. Now just take a couple breaths here to close your eyes and just notice what’s going on in the shoulders. Find your foundation here, that which is touching the earth. So really ground down through all ten knuckles. Spread the fingertips out wide.
Then we’ll inhale, scoop the tailbone up, we’ll lengthen through the lower back body once again. And then we’ll either melt the knees over towards the left here, or you can experiment with shifting your hips to the right first, just to give yourself a little more space. So if you’re new to the practice, you might shift your hips to the right first and then melt your knees to the left. Or if you’ve been practicing a while and you know that you just like to take it from the center, then go ahead and release. Other options: put a pillow or a block between the legs, or maybe underneath to stack.
We’re gonna be here for a couple breaths, maybe you turn onto your right ear. Everyone breath into your belly as you breath in and use your exhale to ground gentle energy down through that right shoulder, eventually we’ll be able to connect. If you feel and sharpness, any pull, anything that doesn’t feel good, back off. Maybe try lowering the knees a little bit here. Another option, to just engage more, is to extend the right leg out long.
We have a foundations of yoga for this pose too that’s super yummy, check it out! Big breath in, use the exhale to melt back to center, gonna go wide legged here, teeter totter a couple times left to right, and then when you’re ready we’ll take it to the other side. Either melting the knees right onto the right, or taking a second to shift the hips over towards the left, and then on over to the right side of your room. Find what feels good here, so I like to offer a lot of options but it’s really just you staying curious in each posture. Breathe. Enjoy.
On an exhale, whenever you’re ready come back, unraveling back to center. You can bring the hands to the backs of the thighs here and rock and roll up to a comfortable cross legged position, maybe heading into a little meditation or just a moment of stillness there. Otherwise, you can join me in kind of inching out on your yoga mat, taking some space, extending the legs out long and just noticing how the back feels if you do this. Coming into a shavasana.
If the back is troubling you and that’s why you sought out this video, maybe you’re in that immediate, acute pain phase, then you might wanna return to where we started. Feet as wide as the mat. Knees together. Lower back lengthened nice and long. So we have options, here or here. Awesome work, my friends. Tuck your chin into you chest, lengthen through the neck, open your heart, open your chest, open your mind. Let the nutrients of your practice begin to settle in.
As much time as will allow, spend some moments here, just in shavasana, letting the nutrients of your practice seep in, settle in, letting your energy ground. It’s so nice that we take this time to kind of roll around on the earth, feel, again, your yoga has your back, find support and really work from the inside out to heal your body and heal your life. Thank you so much for sharing your time and your practice with me. I wish you a beautiful rest of you day and I hope that you find a pain free back.
Take good care. Namaste…