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Lower back pain sucks.
I’m sure we can all agree on that.
I think I was about 14 years old when I first started experiencing lower back pain. I was the kid who would constantly twist and turn and wiggle around in my desk chair while aggressively massaging my back, desperately searching for relief. I tried everything to relieve my pain—massages, acupuncture, chiropractor, MRIs, physical therapy—but the pain lingered.
I was always searching for immediate relief but could never really find it. I dealt with the pain for a long time. Luckily, it wasn’t all the time. It would come and go as it pleased and only when I would feel the pain would I try to do something about it. That was my problem—I wasn’t also caring for my back when it didn’t hurt.
By the time I was 18 years old, I found yoga. I’m not sure why none of the too-many-to-count doctors I saw didn’t recommend yoga because I’m almost certain it would have helped more than anything I tried.
I didn’t start practicing yoga because of my back pain. I started because a friend invited me to go and I said yes. It was as simple as that. I ended up loving it and continued to go. Over time, my back pain became less and less frequent and the only thing that changed was that I was stretching and moving and caring for my body in a new way…regularly.
However, yoga didn’t magically cure me or save me from my pain altogether. I’m a human and still experience aches and pains every once in a while even if I practice yoga, eat an anti-inflammatory diet, and care for myself. What’s most important is that I’m not hard on myself for it and instead, I act on it. That’s all we can really do, right?
We all experience pain every now and then and it can be a b*tch to escape. But the good news is that we have the tools we need for relief—even if it’s just temporary. And (not surprisingly) my absolute favorite tool is yoga.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain, I’m afraid that doing a simple yoga pose probably won’t fix it.
But, if you experience acute lower back pain like I still do, I have just the pose for you:
Wall Malasana (aka wall squat pose)
Why are walls the best? Seriously, almost all of my favorite yoga poses include using the wall—aka “Paul the wall.”
Here’s how to do the pose (check out the picture at the end for reference):
Step 1: Get into Viparita Karani (aka legs up the wall)
>> Find a wall. Easy!
>> Sit on the ground with your outer hip grazing the wall.
>> Lie on your side and scootch that booty as close to the wall as possible.
>> Turn to lie flat on your back, and shoot your legs up the wall.
>> Stay here for a few breaths to open up the hamstrings.
Step 2: Get into wall Malasana
>> From legs up the wall pose, bend each leg in toward your chest/armpits (knees out wide), while keeping your feet flat on the wall.
>> Voilà! You are now doing a squat on the wall.
This pose does require quite a bit of flexibility in the hips. Feel free to add a cushion beneath your lower back for extra support, if needed.
I don’t know about you, but this pose gives me instant relief. (Thanks, Paul the wall!)
Oftentimes, we experience lower back pain due to tight hamstrings and tight hips. Staying in legs up the wall for a few breaths allows for an opening in the hamstrings, while squatting allows for an opening in the hips. Also, when we open up our hips in this squatting position while lying on the floor, it allows for our lower backs to press deeply into the ground (which feels freakin’ amazing).
Once you’re here, breathe. Breathing is arguably the most important part of this pose.
Allow yourself to be still and breathe into where it hurts. Breathing into the parts that hurt allows for space in that area, and most of the time, that’s exactly what we need. Also, maybe your back hurts because you’re stressed—give yourself this time to release that.
Be still, feel into the pose, and be.
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