Focus: There are numerous ways in which Iyengar Yoga can help to reduce lower back pain. Although there are many causes for lower back pain, it is very common for people to arrive at yoga classes with this pain originating at least in part from tight hamstrings.
Stiffness in the group of 3 muscles at the back of your thighs known collectively as the hamstrings can restrict the movement of your pelvis in relation to the movement of your legs. As a result of this restriction, undue strain can be placed upon your lumbar spine. A practical example of this is when you sit on the floor and straighten your legs to the front (dandasana). In this position tight hamstrings can tend to pull the back of the pelvis downwards thus reducing the curvature of the lumbar spine. This can then put the spine in a more vulnerable position as you attempt to sit upright. You simultaneously feel the tension of the spine being pulled downwards and lifted upwards at the same time.
Knowing that the spine can benefit from improved hamstring mobility can create a dilemma for many people. Positions that allow the hamstrings to stretch will often simultaneously challenge the lower back, potentially aggravating existing discomfort. With this in mind the following sequence looks to present a number of poses that can help you to safely improve the flexibility of your hamstrings in positions where your spine is comfortably supported. Poses that help to release tension from the lower back, and poses that help to improve the range of movement in the lower back are also included.
Key Poses: Utthita hasta padangusthasana I & II, chair twists, chair malasana, supta padangusthasana
Equipment: Mat, chair, 2 blankets, 2 blocks, belt
Duration: 50 min