Relieving lumbar (low back) pain
If your chair rolls, place the front of the chair against a wall or somewhere to prevent it from moving.
Stand behind your chair, front of thighs touching the back of the chair
Feet are approximately hip width distance apart, if there are chair legs like in the above photo, press the outside of the feet into the legs
Hips are over the heels, toes facing forward, knees are not bent
Fold over the back of the chair and place your hands on the chair seat, arms are straight at this point
Keep front of thighs touching the chair back
Begin to fold deeper, walking the hands down the front chair legs or even crossing your arms on the chair seat.
Rest your head on the chair seat or forearms
Move the tops of your shoulders away from your ears, shoulder blades moving down your back
Lift the front of the thighs more to release the low back
Spend some time here
Where on the thighs should the chair touch -with heals pressing firmly into the floor, anywhere from the middle front thighs to the hip crease.
Legs aren't long enough - stand on sturdy books or yoga blocks to give your thighs the lift needed to fold over the chair.
Hurts the back - sometimes approaching it in stages is all it takes to be successful. Don't fold down as far, increase height by placing towels on the chair seat or place your torso on a stable table top or kitchen island.
Alternative option - stand with your back to the wall, a stable chair facing you. Heels are 6-8" away from the wall, hips are against the wall. Place hands on chair seat. Keeping hips on the wall, fold your arms onto the chair seat, rest your head.
Hyperextension of knees - don't forget to lift the front of the thighs, the more you lift, the less likely you are to hyperextend your knees.
Difficult to move shoulders away from ears - roll the inner upper arms up towards the ceiling
How it helps:
Lumbar muscles - low back pain can be caused by tight hamstrings (back of thighs). By coming into a safe and supportive forward bend, you can begin to lengthen those tight muscles.
Gravity - the movement of the upper body helps to release the lower back.
Toes facing forward (or slightly turned in) - when the toes are pointing outward, this action closes the area around the sacrum (low spine); when the toes are facing forward the area begins to broaden, and you will find even more expansion if you slightly pigeon toe your feet (toes pointing inward) - play with the difference.
Creating a healthier body can be overwhelming...
Taking one moment at a time to relieve an ache or pain can make a goal more achievable, and worth your time.
Wishing you great health, Tanya
Tanya is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher based out of Abbotsford, BC Canada. She has been teaching since 2015, strictly online since March 2020. Tanya volunteers her time as a board member for the BKS Iyengar Yoga Association Vancouver. Her greatest joy is being able to help discover movement.