Yin yoga is a wonderful practice for releasing deep held tension in the body and mind, which is why yin yoga helps ease back pain so well, because back pain is closely linked to emotional tension also.
Yin Yoga and how it helps ease back pain
In the slow held poses we are encouraged to soften the muscles as much as possible so we can access the deeper connective tissues such as ligaments and fascia. Paired with the mindfulness meditation aspect of it that helps to calm the mind it can aid the healing process immensely.
Back pain and emotional tension – the relationship
Back pain often originates from emotional tension before the actual injury occurs; whether it’s from running on adrenalin in a non-stop busy life, financial worries, guilt, feeling a lack of emotional support or something else. What ever tension we experience in the mind gets experienced in the body. Once an actual injury occurs the surrounding area can go into spasm to protect the weak point and the on-going pain and tension in the body can lead us to feeling even more emotional.
What is so helpful then is to relax the body and mind as much as possible. To quieten the mind to help return to that place of trust and calm with in. To ease the nervous system toward the parasympathetic state, which gives us the ability to rest and digest.
Daily Yoga Nidra practice helps ease back pain
Firstly, I recommend a daily Yoga Nidra practice when the body is in spasm and pain. Lie down with legs over bolster, a flat block or pillow under your head and a blanket. Put on a pre recorded Yoga Nidra that you can follow and relax. It is a deeply healing practice on many levels. You can find Yoga Nidra on Spotify, Itunes, You Tube and the various online yoga websites. I recommend Rod Stryker and Uma Dinsmore-Tuli
Don’t hold yin forward bends with back pain
Depending on how your back is and where the injury is please be careful with holding forward bends for a long time in Yin. What I recommend instead is doing the supine (lying on your back) poses and alternatives up the wall so that the spine is stable and protected whilst you release the hip and leg muscles, which often pull on the lower back and trigger imbalance in the first place. Twists are also a wonderful release if they feel helpful for your back. Above all take it very cautiously and listen to your bodies feedback.
A routine I find helpful when my lower back has been painful:
Coherent Breathing as much as you can the whole way through: this is breathing in for 6 and out for 6 with a soft Ujjayi. This is the most healing breath pattern, it has been scientifically shown to reset the whole body for 24 hours when you do it for 20 minutes.
Constructive Rest Pose. 5 minutes
Knee to chest pose (hugging in one knee). 1 minute
Foot to Sky pose (hamstring stretch). 1 minute
Eye of the needle. 3 minutes
Supine Shoelace. 3 minutes
Relax, notice how it feels on the right side compared to the left. Then other side.
Wide knee child’s pose over a bolster 5 minutes
Sphinx pose – if this feels ok for your back, avoid if it feels too much for your lower back. 3 minutes
Rest afterwards, changing turn of the head to get an even neck stretch. You may prefer to lie back over a bolster, vertically along spine supporting the head, to experience a more supported back bend for a bit longer if sphinx doesn’t feel helpful.
Legs up the wall pose, bend your knees if your hamstrings are too tight. 10 minutes
Squat with legs up the wall. 3 minutes
Supine Twist. 3 minutes
Yoga Nidra with legs over a bolster. 15-25 minutes – try Rod Stryker and Uma Dinsmore-Tuli
Other recommendations to ease back pain
Above all I recommend Yoga Nidra, Magnesium/Epsom Salt Baths and slowing down, being kind to yourself and easing any pressure off so you can really relax. Remember the pain will pass, you will heal in your own time. Nothing lasts forever. Acceptance of how we are in each moment as when we resist something, like hurting our backs, it continues to cause us tension. Acceptance allows a softening and space to be able to heal.