Any form of a sport or physical activity has its own advantages and disadvantages. This holds true for yoga as well. Although yoga, at least the beginner level, is not as intense as different sports, it does give rise to certain issues. One such issue is back pain.
Yoga is used to restore the body back to health, in spiritual healing, and to recover from injuries. But, knowing which techniques of yoga are the right ones for a specific problem is of utmost importance. This especially is crucial to avoid back pain. Yoga is commonly used to reduce back pain. But doing it wrong can actually cause back pain. Here are a few such poses that, if done incorrectly, can be counterproductive.
Yoga Poses That Can Result In Back Pain
1. The Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This pose looks quite easy, like you’re just twisting around to talk to somebody when sitting down. But it’s nowhere near as simple as that. The half spinal twist is all about strengthening and improving the flexibility of your spine. If you start this off incorrectly or exert pressure on the wrong areas of your spine, you can easily hurt yourself.
Although you take support from your legs to twist your body, your back bears the brunt of the move. So, keep your back straight before you get into the pose. Twist using your back and your core, not your hands or legs. This way, you ensure that you’re pushing your body only as much as it can manage. Don’t worry if you cannot twist completely. It’s better to get there slowly without hurting your back.
2. The Lunge Twist (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)
In a lunge, one foot is positioned forward with bent knees and flat on the ground while the other leg is kept behind. A lunge twist is when you get into the lunge and twist your lower back to face the opposite side of the foot positioned forward.
With the twist and incomplete support from your legs, this pose can cause uneven tension in your spinal discs and cords. What you can do is twist your back only to an extent where it doesn’t hurt the back but just exerts a slight pressure on it. Avoid it if you’re already injured.
3. The Camel (Ustrasana)
In the camel pose, you bend backward using the abdominal muscles. While this is quite easy, it can cause issues in those who have spine issues or a pre-existent back pain. If done without correct guidance, you apply unwarranted stress on your back, especially when you’re on your knees with the upper body facing the ceiling.
If your back muscles are already hurt, it goes without saying that you need to rest them or exercise them only under medical guidance. So, first, know if you’re supposed to be doing this pose. Then, get the basics right and learn to strengthen your back with the camel pose instead of hurting it.
4. The Full Wheel (Chakrasana)
It is important to learn this pose step by step and under the guidance of a trained professional. This pose requires a lot of strength and flexibility, as you bend backward and rest on just your hands and feet. With a complete backward bend, this pose works on your entire back.
But, it also exerts a lot of pressure on your back. If you have a weak back, this pose will definitely make it worse. Instead, start off with the half wheel pose, see how your back reacts to it, and take it slowly from there.
5. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Seems ridiculous that just bending forward slightly can screw up your back, doesn’t it? But, it definitely can. The seated forward bend is about stretching your spine and working your thighs. Where does it go wrong?
This pose is comparatively easy because you use you take support from your hands and legs to pull your spine. However, it is quite easy to overwork your back. The best way to go about it is to hold the pose where neither your thighs nor your back is hurting. Also, avoid this pose if you’ve previously hurt your discs or spine in any way.
6. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
All you’re doing is just bending down to try and touch your feet. How exactly can this go wrong? The standing forward bend causes back pain when you do it incorrectly.
You might try to bend down while you keep your legs straight. By keeping your legs straight, you’re exerting a lot of pressure on your pelvis and lower back, which can cause pain. All you need to do is this. As you bend down, keep your knees slightly bent and make it all about lowering your back. Hold onto to your feet or your calves, however far you can go. And then, slowly try and straighten your legs.
7. The Boat Pose (Navasana)
The boat pose makes use of the abdominal muscles, the spine, and strengthens your hip flexors. But, it is quite tricky to get into this position. Ideally, in this pose, you should make use of your abdominal muscles as much as possible and just take support from your spine.
But, it is quite easy to depend a little too much on your back and hurt your spine as you get into this not-so-comfortable position. Here, the lower back works quite hard to keep your body balanced. So, take it slow and easy. First, strengthen your back and slowly start practicing the boat pose. Learn to favor the abdomen in this pose than your back.
A Word Of Caution
Knowing its severity, we’ll tell you repeatedly that you should not practice these poses if you have a back injury. Go to a professional yoga teacher or a physiotherapist to first get your body back to health. Slowly, start practicing these poses when you know for sure that your back is safe.
Also, when you practice yoga for the first time, your back is bound to hurt. This is because you wouldn’t have used those muscles for a while. Do not mistake this for injuries. With constant practice, the pain will go away in a few days. Learn to recognize the good pain from the more serious ones.