Getting older can certainly come with its fair share of aches and (back) pains, but yoga can strengthen the muscles that support your back. "Most postural habits are due to either chronically stiff muscles, or chronically weak muscles," says certified yoga teacher Zach Biegun, who is based in Ithaca, New York. "The thing that makes yoga so good for back pain is that it addresses both issues in a systematic way."
According to Biegun, the One-legged Wind Releasing pose is a good, gentle stretch for the mid- to low back and hips because it stretches all of the muscles in those areas, which helps resolve low back pain.
Here's how you do it:
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
- Hug your right thigh to your chest, using a strap or belt to assist you, if necessary.
- Straighten your left leg along the floor, keeping your foot flexed.
- Keep your pelvis and right buttock on the floor (or, if you're unable, keep your left leg slightly bent).
- Breathe deeply until you feel the muscles relax, and then stay a few breaths longer.
- Repeat on the other side.
You may find that one side may take more or fewer breaths to relax, so pay attention to what your body's telling you.
Other poses aimed at reducing chronic back pain include relaxation pose, forward fold and seated forward bend in a chair.
Seniors know that other aches and pains can also get in the way of an active life. Read on for yoga poses that target other types of pain.