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Lower Back Pain? Try These Yoga Exercises to Strengthen Your Core & Find Relief

If you suffer from lower back pain, it may be a weak core. A strong core keeps your spine in proper alignment and can help prevent pain and injury. Your core is cylindrical and wraps around the entire midsection (almost like an inner tube). Thus, a strong core fortifies the spine.

To relieve lower back pain and protect your spine from future injury, focus on strengthening your core. We hear you! Core work may sound like a daunting task, but there are other ways to strengthen your core than daily crunches. Simply incorporating a few core exercises into your yoga practice, at work, or in the car, can be enough to help alleviate lower back pain.

To learn more about the muscles that make up your core, check out Abdominal Anatomy + Yoga Poses to Strengthen Your Full Core.

When strengthening your core, it’s not about working quickly or how many repetitions you can do. Instead, focus your core work on slow, controlled, and mindful movements by using your breath and connecting to each muscle in your core. Moving with intention is more effective than speeding through movements mindlessly. Consistency, practice, and perseverance will also remind you of your inner strength.

Want Something Slower? Try This Yin for Low Back Pain Class

Yoga Class
With Ashley Limehouse

Back pain is closely related to our emotional state and the stress held in the body. Yin Yoga is a beautiful practice to help release deep tension in your body and mind. It is slower and more meditative, allowing space to go inwards and tune with your body’s sensations and current emotions. So if you need to skip the core, try this YA Classes sequence instead.

Here Are 10 Yoga Exercises to Do on and off the Mat to Strengthen Your Core and Help Relieve Lower Back Pain:


5 Core Yoga Exercises to Do On the Mat:


1. Bridge Pose with Hip Pulses

Bridge Pose is a great yoga pose to open the chest and shoulders and strengthen the back. To work the core muscles in Bridge Pose, add slow hip pulses and keep your awareness focused on the core muscles.

bridge setup
Let’s try it:

  • Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
  • Place your hands by your hips with the palms facing down
  • Inhale and lift your hips. Bring your chest closer to your chin
  • Take a few breaths then slowly lower your hips to the mat
  • Activate your core and lift your hips back into Bridge Pose
  • Practice 5-10 times



2. Spinal Balance

In Spinal Balance or Balancing Table Pose, your entire body must be active to keep you stable. Your core is working hard to keep the center of your body strong while you extend the arm and opposite leg. This yoga pose also lengthens your spine.
spinal balance
Let’s try it:

  • Begin in Table Top Pose
  • Extend your right leg back and your left arm forward
  • Squeeze into the mid-line with your arms and legs to balance
  • Keep your core engaged and your pelvis tucked to protect your lower back
  • Hold for a few breaths, or if you would like more intensity, crunch your knee and elbow to meet on your exhale. On your inhale, extend the arm and leg back to Spinal Balance
  • Practice 5-10 times then return to Table Top Pose and repeat on opposite side

Looking for more yoga tutorials and yoga tips? Check out our full library of Yoga articles here

3. Plank Pose

Plank Pose or High Plank is another pose that works your entire body. This pose is an amazing core activator because you have to keep your hips lifted and your lower back safe. Practicing this pose strengthens the deep transverse abdominus, which in turn keeps the body stable and strong throughout the day.
Let’s try it:

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog
  • Inhale and bring your shoulders forward to stack over your wrists and come onto the balls of your feet
  • Keep your awareness on activating your core. Lift your hips almost level with your shoulders and draw the navel up and in towards the spine
  • Reach the crown of the head forward and the heels back to lengthen the spine
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths
  • When you are ready to release, either return to Downward Facing Dog or Table Top Pose


4. Side Plank Pose or Forearm Side Plank

Side Plank is a great yoga pose to stretch your side body and strengthen your obliques. Strong obliques help keep your spine more stable when active and lessen the likelihood of injury (when picking up heavy items, for example).
side plank 3
side plank forearm 1
Let’s try it:

  • From Plank Pose, roll onto the outer blade of your right foot
  • Stack your left foot on top of your right foot, or option to stagger your left foot in front of the right foot for more balance
  • Keep your right hand on the yoga mat and reach your left your arm skyward to stack your left shoulder on top of your right shoulder
  • Lift your hips high and flex your feet to protect your ankles
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides


5. Hollow Body Hold

Your main focus when practicing Hollow Body Hold is strengthening your lower abdominals and back muscles. This intense exercise is a great opportunity to find the connection needed to strengthen and protect the lower back.
Let’s try it:

  • Lie on your back with your arms overhead
  • Engage your core and press your lower back into the mat
  • Hold and keep the core engaged, but don’t forget to breathe
  • When you’re ready to add intensity, lift your legs and arms off the mat without allowing your back to lift off the mat
  • Hold for a few breaths, then slowly release
  • Practice 3-5 rounds



BONUS: Bow Pose

Bow Pose strengthens your core and the muscles along your spine. It also improves posture and stretches the front body (including your core).
Let’s try it:

  • Lie on your stomach and bend both knees to bring your heels towards your hips
  • Reach your right hand to your right foot (grab the outside of the foot). Now the left side. Use a yoga strap, if needed
  • Inhale and kick your feet into your hands to lift your chest off the mat
  • Pause here and activate your inner thighs to bring your knees hip-distance apart
  • After a few breaths, release your grip and slowly lower your body to the mat
  • Bend the knees and tick-tock the feet side-to-side to relieve tension in your back

Add these poses to your daily yoga practice to strengthen your core and protect your back. But if you are unable to get onto your yoga mat every day, then we’ve got you covered! Try these core exercises off the mat to help protect your lower back.

5 Core Yoga Exercises to Do Off the Mat:


1. Pelvic Tilt

Sitting in traffic, at your desk, or watching a movie at home? Pelvic tilts help strengthen your core and lengthen your lower back, and all you need is a chair with a back.
Let’s try it:

  • Sit in a chair and bring your attention to your belly and lower back
  • On your exhale, use your core to press your lower back into your chair
  • Engage your core as you continue to tilt your pelvis and press into the chair
  • Hold for a few breaths, then repeat as often as you would like


2. Kegels and Hip Circles

Kegels is the simple movement of engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor for a short period of time and then releasing. The pelvic floor muscles act as a hammock at the bottom of your pelvis to hold the organs in place. Kegels aren’t just for females. Men can benefit from this pelvic floor strengthening exercise too.
Hips circles or hip spiraling is a fantastic alternative to regular core work. Activate the core muscles to create small hip circles, figure eight shapes, or tight circular spirals. This practice strengthens the muscles around the spine and helps reduce pain and tightness in your back by lubricating the vertebral discs.
Both exercises are super convenient because they can be done almost anywhere. Again, remember these when you’re driving or sitting at your desk, etc.

3. Boat Pose or Knee Lifts in a Chair

Boat Pose is a go-to yoga pose to strengthen your abdominals and spine. While it is a yoga pose, you don’t have to be on your mat to practice it. It’s such a powerful core strengthener that modifying it with knee lifts will still provide the full benefit.
Let’s try it:

  • Sit at the edge of your chair and hold onto the seat or arm rests
  • Tuck the pelvis, engage your lower abdominals
  • Lift your knees to a 90-degree angle. Keep your chest lifted and your spine lengthened
  • Keep the knees lifted for a few breaths. To add intensity, slowly pulse the knees
  • Hold for a few breaths and repeat as often as desired


4. Abdominal Hollowing

Practice abdominal hollowing throughout your day to strengthen your core, connect to your lower abdominals and help stimulate energy within the body. You can practice this while seated or standing!
Let’s try it:

  • Sit in a chair and inhale to lengthen your spine
  • Exhale to relax your shoulders away from your ears
  • Inhale fully, then exhale fully and hold the out breath
  • Without inhaling, engage your core and draw your navel toward your spine (suck in the belly!)
  • Hold the abdominal hollowing and focus on the deep core engagement. This is also an activation of the Uddiyana Bandha, or abdominal lock
  • Gently release when ready and inhale

For more information on the bandhas, check out The Bandhas: Learn the Technique and Transform Your Yoga Practice.

5. Sit on an Exercise Ball

Nothing fancy here! Just great stability work for your core and a fun way to increase your core strength to protect your lower back. Instead of sitting in a chair for eight hours at work and consistently compressing your lower spine, sit on an exercise ball or a stability board and build the strength to keep the spine long and strong.
A few tips:

  • Don’t slouch, keep your spine long and chest lifted
  • Keep your lower abdominals engaged and your pelvis tucked to protect your lower back
  • Use your core to stabilize your body as you balance
  • Smile at your co-workers to strengthen office morale =)


Strengthen Your Core and Find Lower Back Pain Relief

An estimated 750,000,000 people in the world suffer from back pain. That’s 10% of the entire world population. According to recent studies, 4 out of 5 Americans have or will experience back pain. And whether you actively suffer from back pain, or have in the past, you know how debilitating it can be.

A strong core is important because it helps keep you stable and protected. Living with lower back pain is no way to live at all – and can lead to more than just physical pain. Try incorporating a few of these core exercises into your daily routine to keep you strong and healthy.

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12 Yoga Poses to Relieve Lower Back Pain (Video)
Follow along in this yoga video as we lead you through a refreshing, gentle flow of yoga poses to help alleviate your lower back pain.
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Michelle Stanger

Michelle Stanger is a 200-RYT yoga instructor with years of teaching experience. She specializes in Power Vinyasa, Buti Yoga and handstands and is best known as a teacher for her fun, light-hearted attitude and classes that are as challenging as they are welcoming.

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