Do you sit too much? Do you sit at a desk at work, and then sit in front of the computer or TV when you get home? Do you sit in a car for an hour or two each day? If you do sit too much, do you find that you have back pain? A large proportion of chronic back pain isn’t caused by acute injury but rather by muscles that become weak or imbalanced from disuse—that is, from sitting too much! Thankfully, yoga is an easy and effective way to reduce or eliminate back pain. Here are some suggestions for yoga for back pain caused by sitting too much.
If you suffer from chronic back pain, it’s a good idea to talk to a medical professional before starting any new exercises, since some types of back pain can be caused by injury and need to be treated. It’s also important to incorporate other lifestyle changes into your routine besides yoga. Get up and stretch at work, walk around, bend down and touch your toes from time to time. If you don’t already have a yoga practice, begin with gentle classes so that you can build up strength to allow the yoga to help with back pain without overly stressing the body.
These are my favorite Kundalini Yoga kriyas for back pain. Modify the postures if you need to, and cut the times down as needed.
Most back pain from sitting too much is felt in the lumbar spine, or the low back. Exercises such as spinal flex and gentle twists are very good for stretching this part of the spine. The kriya Basic Spinal Energy Series from Sadhana Guidelines has several different types of spinal flex in it, and it works the back systematically from the base of the spine to the top. This is a great yoga set to do on its own or as a warm-up for a more strenuous kriya.
Balancing the Body and the Thoracic Spine, found in Reaching Me in Me, works to open up the mid-and upper back. This is a fairly vigorous kriya with some standing postures and some in a squatting position. For someone who sits too much, this can be challenging. However, it’s a good workout and a flexible thoracic spine is important to prevent back pain.
To develop strength in the back, it’s also important to work on the abdominal muscles. There are plenty of Kundalini Yoga kriyas for the navel center, and one of my favorites is A Basic Set from the book Infinity and Me. This kriya includes plenty of leg lifts at a variety of different heights, and since the muscles that are used to lift the legs vary depending on how high the legs are lifted, this set is great for strengthening both the abdominal muscles and the muscles of the back. Like the previous kriya, this one offers a good mix of standing and supine postures, which is good for alleviating back pain.
If you need a bit of a jumpstart to get your practice moving, try Kia Miller’s Radiant Body – Core Energy DVD. This DVD includes a warm-up kriya, an abdominal strengthening kriya, and a vinyasa flow yoga sequence that should also help to reduce back pain by getting the energy moving in the body to counteract the effects of sitting too much.
Whatever yoga practice you choose for your back pain from sitting too much, it’s important to be consistent. While one yoga class may alleviate back pain in the short term, it probably won’t bring about any long-term changes if you don’t keep up. And as always, be safe; if your back pain persists despite the yoga and other lifestyle changes, please check with a medical professional to determine if there might be some other problems besides sitting too much.