If you’ve read any of our previous articles, or watched any of our YouTube videos, you might be aware that we don’t always speak too highly of yoga. Yoga does have a great deal of benefits, but it does require some care and attention if you are doing yoga when you have back pain or you take up yoga with a fresh back injury. Today we’re going to be going through why you need to be taking care with yoga, what kind of exercises in general you should be avoiding, and when exactly you can bring it back into your daily life if you do like doing yoga.

First of all, being able to do yoga is going to bring some people a lot of joy. It is a great exercise for improving your flexibility, stability and body control, not to mention how calming and meditative the practice can be. In the times we’re living in right now, having a calming practice of yoga that you can do in a small space, such as in your own home, might well be something you look forward to throughout the day. However, if you’re getting some back pain, do be wary of the following poses.

What Yoga Poses Should You Avoid With Back Pain

The reason why yoga can be problematic if you do have fresh back pain is that it does require a lot of technique. Yoga after all can be quite a skill to learn, and if you do have back pain you may not be very flexible and your range of movement might well be compromised. Even a pose as basic as downward dog can cause you to round your lower back if you’re not doing it technically perfect, which is why it’s something you need to take care with. Child’s pose is also one that you might find to be problematic since it’s quite similar in motion to knee hugs. For anyone with lower back pain, knee hugs might feel good at the time but when you extend back into a standing position, the spine can compress down and be very uncomfortable, so this would definitely be one to avoid. You need to be wary of any position that’s going to put you in any kind of folded position, as it’s all too easy to round the spine.

What Poses Could Be Improved If You Have Back Pain

Although a pose like the Cobra can feel quite relieving, as technically it is the opposite to flexion and forward bending, you may want to favour our towel exercise over the Cobra stretch. This pose is also recommended under the name of the McKenzie technique, but our towel exercise that we frequently recommend would be much more beneficial for you to do and is much more comfortable. This would involve taking a towel, rolled up to about the size of a foam roller and placing it in the small of your back, roughly an inch above the dimples at the bottom of the spine. Relax on the towel for about 3-5 minutes and this will help to unload the discs, unload the muscles and relieve pain. This position may be uncomfortable at first, but should get more comfortable the more you persist. This exercise is actually taking the pressure off by using something that you’re lying on as a pivot point for your spine. The Cobra pose just doesn’t have the same effect.

Join The Back In Shape Program

A full protocol to support you get out of back pain in the short term and then rehab safely and effectively to deal with the issue for the long term.

Should You Avoid Yoga With Neck Pain?

If you have neck pain, equally there are some poses you might want to avoid. In general, keeping your neck in a neutral position is going to be one of your main focuses. Avoid cranking it up and tensing it during yoga. The two exercises specifically that you’ll want to avoid would be shoulder-stands and headstands, as these will put your neck into a very pressurised flexion that won’t do your neck any favours. The lower back vertebrae are much wider in order to help distribute 50% of your body weight effectively. When you compare these to the neck vertebrae, which in comparison are much smaller, these are not going to effectively deal with 95% of your body weight.

Yoga vs. Strength Training For Back Pain

Most people gravitate towards yoga because it helps you improve your flexibility and is relatively relaxing. If you’re naturally more flexible, you may gravitate more towards yoga, whereas people who aren’t may prefer other activities such as strength training. In reality, incorporating different activities into your everyday life is going to be more beneficial for you in the long-run. Obviously right now this can be challenging, but when normality resumes, you may want to take this into consideration. People who are more flexible would likely benefit from incorporating targeted strength work into their exercise routine. Likewise, people who regularly strength train or run, might well benefit from incorporating yoga. It’s best to try and achieve a balance, so mixing your training up will help this.

Rehabilitating Your Back Pain Before Doing Yoga

Something to also consider would be, if you are suffering with back pain – perhaps you’ve had the problem for a couple of weeks, months or even years, pressing pause on taking up yoga and waiting until you’ve got some momentum going with rehabilitation would be helpful. If you’re not sure what you can be doing, we have a dedicated membership area you can find at www.backinshapeapp.com, which details exactly the order in which you should be doing rehabilitation for back pain as well as a simple protocol to follow. Waiting until you’ve progressed through this rehabilitation a bit further, potentially we’d advise towards the end of phase 2, you can then pick yoga back up. We would advise though if you do wish to follow the program that if you’ve had the problem for a number of years, you perhaps wait a little longer – if you’re not sure how long you can always reach out to us for more guidance on this.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article today and you’ve found it useful. If you do have any questions about anything we’ve discussed, please do feel free to get in touch with us, either through our social channels or by tuning in to our daily livestreams, available on YouTube or Facebook. Don’t forget, if you are having any back pain, do check out our free membership area for more information on what mistakes you could be making on a daily basis, what stretches would be helpful for you, and what you can do at home to relieve the pain.

Contact Us.

Email Us


Call Us

0203 947 32 22

Clinic Address

4 Cavendish Square, London, W1g 0PG.