Alleviating pain is one of the many benefits of practicing yoga. Whether you are an athlete with sore muscles from repeated use, have arthritis, or have an old injury that still aches, yoga can be a great way to stretch your muscles and alleviate pain. If you are looking for yoga poses for knee pain, yoga for back pain, or other poses that will help alleviate soreness throughout the body, try these yoga poses and videos to keep your body feeling flexible and healthy.
Yoga for Arthritis and Yoga for Joint Pain
Arthritis is an umbrella term for a number of types of joint pain and disease. According to The Arthritis Foundation, more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some form of arthritis. The foundation lists yoga for arthritis as a great tool for alleviating pain. Some yoga poses to keep your joints moving and help alleviate joint pain include:
- Cat-Cow: Begin on all fours in a table top pose. On an inhale, shift your breath into your back body and arch your spine upwards into the “cat” pose. Then, breathe out and curve your back downwards and shift your gaze upwards into a “cow” pose. If you have pain in your wrists, you may want to spend more time in the table top pose and move your body in small circles or a “U” shape to increase stimulation and circulation through your wrists.
- Child’s Pose: Child’s pose is an easy pose to stretch out the muscles in your back body. Start in a seated pose with your legs folded under your body and your calves and feet lying flat on the ground. Then, fold your body forward so your forehead is touching the ground. You can rest your arms by your side or stretch them in front of your body to increase the stretch.
- Crescent Lunge: First, move into a high lunge position. Then, slowly lower your back knee towards the ground. Stretch your upper body tall and lift your arms up towards the sky. Keep your front knee in a right angle position rather than stretching too far forward.
Yoga for Knee Pain
Knee pain can come from a number of sources. Common causes for knee pain include arthritis and joint pain, ligament and cartilage injuries, post traumatic arthritis as the result of a severe knee injury, or osteoarthritis caused by wearing down cartilage in the knee joint.
A recent study by Sharon Kolasinski, MD at the University of Pennsylvania found participants with knee pain who practiced yoga for 90 minutes per week for eight weeks had significantly less pain and a larger range of motion than the did before they started practicing yoga. She also cited mental calming and stress relief as secondary benefits among study participants.
If you are interested in yoga for knee pain and learning some new yoga poses to help reduce pain in your knees, try some of the following poses:
- Extended Triangle Pose: Begin in an upright position with a wide legged stance. Then, rotate your right foot 90 degrees so it is facing to the side and stretch your right arm down to meet your foot. Reach your left arm straight up and open your chest. Take a few breaths (or remain as long as you would like) and then switch sides.
- Warrior I: From a standing position, step one foot forward and bend your knee so your calf and thigh make a right angle. Reach your arms overhead and stand tall.
- Reclining Bound Angle Pose: Start in a seated pose with your knees facing outward and feet touching together (many call this a Butterfly stretch). Then, slowly lower your body onto the floor maintaining the butterfly position with your legs and your body lying on the ground.
Yoga for Back Pain
Spine Universe cites sprain and strain, spinal nerve compression, bulging disks and more as common causes of back pain. While the specifics of your type of back pain will have a significant impact on the best strategy to alleviate it, there are many overall benefits of practicing yoga to make your back feel better. Some key benefits include strengthening back muscles, shortening recovery pain, and increasing and maintaining mobility. If you are interested in yoga for lower back pain and general back pain, give some of the following poses a try:
Yoga for General Back Pain
- Two-Knee Spinal Twist: First, lay on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Let your legs fall to one side and stretch your upper body in the other direction.
- Downward Dog: Assume a standing position and reach your arms to the ground (bend your knees if necessary). With your palms still on the ground, step your legs back a few feet. Use your hands to push your back body towards your feet so you feel a stretch in the backs of your legs. For detailed instructions, see Cody’s Ultimate Guide to Downward Dog.
- Seated Forward Bend: Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Reach your hands towards your feet and grab your toes, feet, or ankles if possible. Breathe deeply to gently deepen your stretch.
Yoga for Lower Back Pain
- Half Forward Fold: Start by standing about three feet away from a wall with feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward and place your hands against the wall so your upper body and lower body form a right angle. Use your core muscles to ensure your back stays straight and strong.
- Fists-Forward Bend: Stand with your feet slightly apart, knees bent, and fold your torso over your legs so that your stomach is resting against your thighs. Let your head hang, then fold your arms so that your fists are in the bend of your elbows, and breathe deeply.
- Happy Baby: First, lay down on your back. Use your core to reach your feet into the air and grab your feet or ankles with your hands. Feel free to rock side to side if that feels good for your body. You can also modify this pose by grabbing your shins instead of your feet, or putting your feet together and forming a butterfly pose while laying on your back with feet in the air.
Take your practice further: For an in-depth yoga for back pain workout, try Lower Back Pain Relief with Matt Stevens and Mackenzie Miller!
Yoga for Arthritis, Knee, and Back Pain: Best Practices
Yoga is a healthy way to increase your range of motion and keep your body feeling great. While the goal of your practice is alleviating pain, it is important to ensure you are practicing safely to avoid injury while practicing. Some pro-tips for maintaining a safe and healthy yoga practice are:
- Start slow. Do not rush into advanced poses that may be too hard on your body in the beginning.
- Listen to your body. If you feel sharp or severe pain, take a break.
- Speak up. In a class setting, let your teacher know if you are feeling pain in certain poses
- Reach out. Consult your physician before starting your yoga practice if you have serious pain somewhere in your body.
From yoga for lower back pain, yoga for joint pain, and poses keep your knees strong, yoga can be an excellent means of alleviating pain in your body. To get started with your yoga practice, checkout Restorative and Rejuvenative with Carling Harps and EveryBody Yoga Classes with Jessamyn Stanley