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6 Yin Yoga Poses for Back Pain (Video)

Kendra Sand
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Yin Yoga is a type of yoga that is renowned for inducing deep relaxation. Generally, Yin Yoga poses are close to the ground, slow, deep, and juicy. Yin Yoga gives your body time to relax into a pose, work with the breath, and find relief from physical tension, especially back pain.
 

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga employs long pose holds – usually five minutes on each side – and lots of props, including yoga blocks, bolsters, cushions, and blankets. It targets the joints, connective tissues, and fascia. Often considered “passive,” Yin poses pack a punch for your mind and body (and you will find these poses to be anything but “passive”!). In essence, you passively use your bodyweight to enhance yoga poses.
 

Yin Yoga is a more meditative approach to yoga and a wonderful complement to fast-paced, “Yang” style yoga practices, like Vinyasa and Ashtanga.

 
Yin poses require deep belly breaths and focus. You may find a “sweet” spot in a pose that quickly walks the line between intensity and enjoyment. Come back to your breath: lengthen on your inhale and relax into the pose with each exhale.
 

The Benefits of Yin Yoga

Though pretty chill in practice, Yin Yoga is packed with benefits (and challenges) for body, mind, and spirit. A regular Yin Yoga practice may:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve concentration
  • Relieve physical tension
  • Improve flexibility
  • Increase range of motion
  • Reduce pain
  • Increase circulation
  • Balance internal organs

To learn more about the benefits of Yin Yoga, read What is Yin Yoga and What Are the Benefits?.
 
After a few Yin classes, you may also notice that you have less anxiety and are even sleeping better. Since Yin Yoga targets connective tissue and relaxation, it can relieve pesky back pain and stiffness in particular and can also help prepare your spine for backbends.
 

Yin Yoga for Back Pain

Since Yin Yoga targets connective tissue with deep relaxation, it can relieve back pain, counter the impacts of sitting (at a desk, for example), and help reverse bad posture. Yin can also help work out knots and tension in the upper back, create more flexibility in the spine, and hydrate the spine overall for increased mobility in poses.
 
The poses below offer a starting place for Yin Yoga, with back pain relief in mind. You can also explore these poses in the free YogiApproved tutorial Yin Yoga Poses for Back Pain.
 
To support yourself in the poses below, you will need:

 
Note: If you feel pain or a pinching sensation, come out of the pose or modify it. And remember to take your time coming out of these long-hold poses!
 

Here are 6 Yin Yoga Poses to Relieve Back Pain:

 

1. Puppy Pose

Puppy Pose is a relaxing heart opener that relieves stress and tension in the upper back. This is a great preparatory pose for backbends.
 
puppy-pose-yin-yoga
 

How to Practice Puppy Pose:

  • Start in Tabletop Pose with palms under shoulders
  • Walk your hands forward and melt your forehead and chest towards floor
  • Relax your neck, and draw the shoulders away from the ears
  • Use a yoga block under your forehead for more support
  • Watch YogiApproved’s Free Yin Yoga for Back Pain for an awesome variation that stretches the triceps
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes

 

2. Sphinx Pose

Sphinx Pose is a gentle backbend that lengthens the abdominal muscles and balances the nervous system. It also strengthens the back and stretches counter muscles in the chest and neck.
 
sphinx-pose-yin-yoga
 

How to Practice Sphinx Pose:

  • Lower onto the belly and place the forearms flat on the mat
  • Bring elbows and palms shoulder-width distance apart
  • Point toes back and press the tops of the feet into the mat
  • Draw the shoulders back and keep the neck in line with your spine
  • Option: watch YogiApproved’s Free Yin Yoga for Back Pain for an awesome variation that stretches the neck
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes

 

3. Thread the Needle Pose

Thread the Needle Pose helps alleviate knots or tension in your upper back. This calming twist also stretches and creates more space in the shoulders.
 
thread-the-needle-yin-yoga
 

How to Practice Thread the Needle Pose:

  • Find Tabletop Pose with hips stacked directly over knees
  • Thread your right arm directly beneath your left armpit and gently allow your right ear and shoulder to relax onto the mat
  • Keep hips stacked directly over knees
  • Keep left hand planted or reach it towards the front of the mat
  • Check your hips to make sure they are still stacked over your knees
  • Watch YogiApproved’s Free Yin Yoga for Back Pain for a variation that deepens the twist
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes and switch sides

 
Want to try more Yin Yoga poses? Instantly Feel Relaxed and Restored With These 8 Yin Yoga Poses.
 

4. Seal Pose

If you felt comfortable in Sphinx Pose and you’d like to take your back stretch further, try Seal Pose. You can find the same benefits in Sphinx pose, so take the variation that you prefer.
 
seal-pose-yin-yoga
 

How to Practice Seal Pose:

  • Find Sphinx Pose (see #2 above)
  • Press into the palms and lift your elbows off the floor
  • To modify this pose, widen your palms and legs on the mat
  • Draw shoulder blades down
  • Watch YogiApproved’s Free Yin Yoga for Back Pain for a calming backbend variation
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes and switch sides

 

5. Supported Bridge Pose

Supported Bridge Pose stretches the neck, chest and spine. You may find that using a yoga block under your sacrum relieves pressure in the low back. This pose is gentle and supportive, and packed with benefits for your spine.
 
supported-bridge-yin-yoga
 

How to Practice Supported Bridge Pose:

  • Lay on your back and slightly tuck your chin towards your chest just enough to elongate the neck
  • Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor close enough so you can touch your heels with your fingertips
  • Make sure your knees stack directly over your ankles
  • Slide your yoga block, bolster, or cushion underneath your tailbone or sacrum
  • Watch YogiApproved’s Free Yin Yoga for Back Pain for a deeper, full body backbend variation
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes and switch sides

 

6. Reclined Spinal Twist Pose

Reclined Spinal Twist Pose is helpful if you suffer from low back pain. It counters the effects of sitting at a desk and can help relieve tightness in the low back. Spinal twists are restorative – they detoxify and rehydrate the spinal column.
 
reclined-spinal-twist-yin-yoga
 

How to Practice Reclined Spinal Twist Pose:

  • Reach arms out into a T-shape
  • Lift your hips and shift them to the right
  • Drop your knees to left
  • Keep one leg stacked over the other
  • Option to place a bolster between your knees for added support
  • Watch YogiApproved’s Free Yin Yoga for Back Pain for a variation that deepens this reclined twist
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes and switch sides

 

Try a Free Yin Yoga Class for Back Pain

Check out YogiApproved’s 45-minute Yin Yoga for Back Pain class with YouTube Yin Yoga sensation Kassandra Reinhardt.
 

 
When you are ready for more, restore and rejuvenate your full body (and mind!) with the Yin Yoga Remedies video bundle with Kassandra. Kassandra Reinhardt is an Ottawa-based yoga instructor with a passion for making yoga accessible and fun. Her voice will soothe you through any long Yin Yoga pose hold!
 
yin-yoga-remedies
 
You can also try other styles of yoga with a YogiApproved class bundle, including Introduction to Vinyasa and Learning to Handstand.
 

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What is Yin Yoga and What Are the Benefits?
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Kendra Sand

Kendra is a YogiApproved Editor and Content Strategist. She is a writer, yoga teacher, and world traveler with an affinity for orchids, hardcover books, and dancing in the moonlight.

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