I was going to review an entirely different practice, but I woke up with intense lower back pain. (From what, I do not even know. Aside from endo — random bringer of mysterious lower body pain! — or maybe my dog was stacking bricks on my back in my sleep or something.) I kind of knew this lower back video existed (another chronic pain perk: making a running mental catalog of anything that might help), so I went looking for it. Via its side bar, YouTube then kindly suggested to me the upper back video as well. It seemed appropriate, since I often end up with upper back stiffness (from too much time at the computer as well as stress/tension from lower body pain), as well as a nice complement to the lower back video.
I used both videos together, with Yoga for Upper Back Pain first. They work fairly well this way and create a nice gentle practice for relaxing and restoring the muscles of the back.
The Practice: Yoga for Upper Back Pain at Yoga With Adriene
Physical/Instructional Parameters: Physically, the sequence consists of some seated positions, some kneeling, and some prone. Because of the kneeling work, I probably wouldn’t use it if I had acute knee or wrist issues (or acute back issues, for that matter), but if a couple of minutes on hands and knees is do-able, then this should be fine. In terms of instruction, the poses offered are fairly simple, and Adriene’s verbal cuing is very clear. I would feel comfortable saying that someone brand new to yoga would probably be able to follow this.
Props: Nothing mentioned at the beginning of the video. However, it starts off in a cross-legged seat, and this morning, I definitely wanted a rolled blanket under my bum.
Run Time: 12 minutes
The sequence is pretty basic: some seated cat/cows and other seated stretches, child’s pose, kneeling twists and twisted child’s pose, cobra, and another child’s pose. There’s a lot of emphasis on doing what’s therapeutic for you and only going as far into a movement as feels good. So when I discovered that my low back was not having any of this cobra shit today (which is odd, because I am usually all about the back bends), I felt comfortable doing only a super low cobra. (And, yes, I would have felt comfortable doing that anyway — but this time, I didn’t feel like I was “deviating” from the sequence at all, just following the instructions to find what felt right for me.)
This sequence seems to be offered as something to work in to a longer practice, so child’s pose is the final pose here, and it’s not held long in the video. Though certainly one could hold it longer on its own, I’m glad that I put this video before the low back one.
The Practice: Yoga for Lower Back Pain at Yoga With Adriene
Physical/Instructional Parameters: Physically, it’s much the same as above, with the exception that there’s a standing forward fold in this series — so one standing posture. Instructionally, there is, if anything, even more emphasis on feeling things out slowly and taking care to take care of yourself. Again, I feel comfortable suggesting this to folks brand new to yoga (though also, folks with acute issues should probably get a health care provider’s okay before doing even this).
Props: Blanket mentioned for seated work as well as to place behind the knees in child’s pose. Blocks offered for lizard pose. Aside from these places, I cannot think where I wanted any props.
Run Time: 15 minutes
This video starts with some supine activity: knees to chest, circling around on the lower back, pelvic tilts, optional full spinal rolls. Then a revisit of the seated cat/cows before moving on to the hands and knees. Kneeling work includes lizard pose to stretch and relax the psoas (I was so happy to see this included since it’s a not-obvious but relatively common contributor to lower back pain) and half splits as a counter pose. After that, there’s a longer-held forward fold, followed by a return to reclined poses — a gentle spinal twist on each side and then savasana (with the option to flip over and use child’s pose as a final posture — which I did, because child’s pose is awesome for helping my low back and hips release).
Overall, both of these sequences did help release tension from and increase mobility to both areas of my back. Not that I was magically pain free afterward — because yoga is not magic — but there was moderate noticeable improvement.