Videos: Yoga for Lower Back Pain

After eight hours in a desk chair, you know you'll need these.

If your job involves sitting at a desk all day, odds are, your lower back feels tight and sore by the time 5 p.m. rolls around. You can thank gravity for most of that, but it may also have to do with lacking core strength or having tight hamstrings.

The following yoga sequence aims to relieve that tension with forward folds, stretches, and core work. Flow through the entire progression in order, since each pose transitions right into the next. Make sure you have a yoga strap, hand towel, or extra t-shirt nearby for the last one.

Your yoga prescription: once a day for 10 to 15 minutes.

Forward Fold

Stand with feet hips-width apart, and hinge forward at the hips to bring the crown of your head down. Bend your knees enough that your chest rests on your thighs. Focus on the forward fold and breathe deeply through the nose. Do whatever you’d like with your arms, as long as they are relaxed completely.

IT Band Stretch

Bring the stretch into your hamstrings by straightening just the right leg. Keep your torso heavy and neck relaxed. To intensify the stretch, walk the fingertips outside your right foot. Take several full, deep breaths. Transition to the left side by bending the right knee and straightening the left. Walk the fingertips outside the left foot to intensify.

Plank to Sphinx

From your forward fold, soften the knees. Bend until you can place your hands on the mat and step back to a high plank or push up position. Spend one minute there, breathing slowly and feeling the heat build in your core. Keep your belly engaged, back flat, and hips low, so that they are in line with your shoulders and heels. If you need to modify, lower to your forearms or knees.

After a minute passes, transition to sphinx pose. Drop to your belly and prop yourself up on your forearms. Place your palms flat and position your elbows under your shoulders. Think about pulling the elbows back toward your ribs. Keep your neck long and eyes straight forward.

Cat/Cow to Child’s Pose

Move to table-top position. Drop the belly as you lift your tailbone up and look forward. Inhale there, then exhale as you round your back and pull your chin to your chest. Rock through this several times, then move to child’s pose for at least 10 breaths.

Supine Hamstring Stretch and Twist

Lay on your back with a yoga strap, hand towel, or t-shirt nearby. Wrap the strap around the bottom of your right foot and extend the leg. Keep your back and shoulders on the ground. Work to straighten your leg. (You can modify further by bending your left knee and placing the left foot on the floor.) Hold for several breaths, then bring the right knee into your chest and let it fall to the left for a supine twist. Extend arms out like a “T” and look away from the knee. Repeat on the left leg.