Health & Fitness

Back Pain? Try Yoga

Magdalene Adhiambo, a yoga instructor in
Magdalene Adhiambo, a yoga instructor in Nairobi says she has been receiving clients for the past 10 years seeking a relief for low back pain. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Why yoga? You may ask. Because yoga is swear that it is the magic wand to healing stress and back pain.

Magdalene Adhiambo, a yoga instructor in Nairobi says she has been receiving clients for the past 10 years seeking a relief for low back pain.

“We have had to modify yoga poses for people who have back problems. These are slow moves and poses that give the back a good stretch, strengthen the spine and release tension on stained muscles,” she says.

Back pain is becoming more severe in the working class and child-bearing women.

“Some of my clients experienced back problems due to long sitting hours in the office, driving for too long without taking breaks, wrong sitting and standing postures, carrying heavy hand bags on one shoulder, men putting heavy wallets in the pocket, while some women experience back pains after child birth,” says Ms Adhiambo.


For some people, the pain may be short term but in others, it lingers on.

Ms Adhiambo says most of her clients are told by doctors to do yoga because it helps to improve blood circulation to the spine and nerves.

“A number of my clients were actually advised by their doctors to join yoga classes and they ended up being real yogis even after the pain had gone,’’ she says.

But yoga, if not done right, can actually aggravate the pain.

“If you choose yoga to heal back pains, get a yoga trainer so as not to strain the muscles. You might not get the pose right from a YouTube tutorial,” she says.

These are the best yoga moves for your back pain.

Forward- fold pose

It promotes lower-body flexibility and gently stretches the hamstring, calves and hips. The emphasis of this pose is on lengthening the front torso as you move fully into the position. It also strengthens the thighs and knees.

First, you need to stand with your hands on the hips. While in this posture, exhale and then bend forward from the hip joints.

With the knees straight, bring the palms to the floor slightly, either in front or beside your feet. Press the heels firmly on the floor and lift yourself toward the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward.

To get full benefits of this pose, lift lengthen the front torso just slightly while inhaling. And with each exhalation, bend forward.

Child pose

Child pose is a great resting pose that gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles. It relieves back and neck pain. Begin by sitting back on the heels with the knees hip-width apart while the palms rest on the thigh.

Exhale and then lower the torso toward the thighs while the arms stretch overhead and the forehead and palms rest on the floor. You can choose to cushion your head with a folded blanket or pillow.

Leg on the wall pose

Legs up the wall posture is exactly as it sounds. It is one of the most easy yoga poses as it doesn't require much flexibility or strength.

You only need to lie on your back with your sit-bone close to a wall. From this posture, extend your legs up on the wall so that the back of your legs are resting fully against the wall. You may have a pillow or a folded blanket to elevate the hips.

Stay in that position for five to 15 minutes.

To come out of the position, push the bottoms of your feet into the wall and lift your hips slightly. Gently roll to one side, being sure to slide your support out of the way if you have used one.

This pose also gives blood circulation a gentle boost toward the upper body and head, which creates a pleasant rebalancing after you have been standing or sitting for a long time.

Downward facing dog pose

This is the most iconic pose in yoga. For a good reason — it elongates and decompresses the entire spine while stretching and strengthening the core, hamstring and lower back.

In this pose, the body is in an inverted ‘V’ posture. The palms and feet are spread apart while touching the earth and the sit bones lifted up towards the ceiling.

The rib cage is lifted while the shoulders are squared to the earth and rotated back, down and inward. Relax your head and neck to the ground.

The weight of the body should be equally distributed between the hands and feet. Make five to seven breathes while in this pose.

Upward facing dog pose

This is a back bending yoga pose that lengthens and strengthens the spine. It improves posture. You start by slowly dropping the hips forward the floor while pressing palms down into the floor. With your chest forward, lift the crown of your head up towards the ceiling. Take a deep breath and hold for one to three breaths.

If you’re uncomfortable with this pose, you can do a cobra pose. This is a gentle pose where your legs, pelvis and even your ribs stay on the floor with your elbows bent to help lengthen your spine

Seated forward fold

Seated forward fold provides a deep stretch for entire back side from the heels to the neck.

First, seat on the floor with your legs outstretched and your feet flexed. Take a deep breath while gently pressing your sitting bones on the floor.

Slightly arc your lower back forward towards your belly. Place your palms besides your hips and on the floor.

Remember to keep your arms straight. Relax in this posture as you calm your mind for a minute.