Expert Answers: Back Hurting After Yoga Class

By Karla Walsh, NASM-CPT, AFAA |

A | You’re not alone. Back pain is the most common adverse effect associated with yoga, according to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Yoga.

“It’s often a matter of trying to do too much too soon,” says Jan Johnson, LifePower Yoga department head at the Life Time Fitness club in St. Paul, Minn.

Flowing vinyasas often are thought of as back-pain cures, but for newbies or those trying to keep up with the flexible folks on mats nearby, yoga can increase the aches.

“Often, lower-back issues already exist, and poses such as cobra, upward dog, plow, forward fold, and backbend bring them to light,” Johnson explains.

Luckily, this problem usually has an easy solution: “Let your body be your guide,” she says. “Each movement should feel like a stretch, but not a strain.”

To build strength in the muscles that support the spine, she suggests incorporating the following moves into your daily routine.

Bridge Pose

  1. Do eight to 12 reps.


Active Spinal Balance

  1. Do eight to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Side Plank

  1. Switch sides and repeat.

Knee Hug

  1. If you’re still experiencing pain or reduced range of motion after six weeks of regular practice, seek one-on-one guidance from an experienced yoga instructor, chiropractor, or medical professional.

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