What yoga poses are good for back pain?

Back pain is something almost everyone can relate to and sympathise with. According to a recent study almost half the UK population experience some form of chronic back pain each year.

Practicing yoga has become a common way of treating back pain over the years and is even recommended by the NHS as an alternative treatment to medicine.

Below is a list of 2 simple yoga poses which are good for back pain.

Cat Pose

Cat Pose - good for back pain

The cat yoga pose can sometimes be referred to as Marjaryasana. This yoga pose is supposed to feel like a gentle massage on your spine thus helping with any back pain you may have. This yoga pose is even better for back pain when combined with the cow pose.

While not a quick fix to chronic back pain, the cat pose combined with a full body yoga routine can offer some relief from the pain.

Benefits of the Cat Pose:

  • Strengthens your core and improves balance.
  • Stretches your back, shoulders and neck for some much needed tension release.
  • Yoga in general is great for mental well-being.

How to do the Cat Pose:

Step one

To begin with start on all fours. Your wrists should be positioned directly below your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. By doing this you should find yourself in what’s known as the tabletop pose or otherwise known as the neutral position. Your head should be in a central and neutral position with your eyes staring at the floor. If you are unsure of what this might look like refer to the picture Below. Alternatively, imagine you are planking but instead you are on your hands and knees with the arms extended.

What yoga poses are good for back pain

Step two

Once you have achieved the “tabletop” pose processed to spread your fingers. This will lessen the strain on your joints. Next gently apply pressure to all your fingers downwards towards the floor. Alternatively you can do the same with your elbows.

Step three

As with all yoga poses breathing is a major part of the exercise. In this yoga pose as you exhale bend your spine upwards towards the ceiling. This should look a bit like an arch. Make sure to keep your wrist and knees in position as you do this.

Step four

Next, as you inhale slowly bring your arched back, back down to a neutral position (tabletop). After you have resumed the tabletop position repeat this cycle for however long you feel comfortable.

Yoga Tip

It is best practice to use a yoga mat whilst performing this pose, and any other yoga pose. This is to reduce strain on your joints during yoga. You can find our list of top ten yoga mats by clicking the button below.

Cow Pose

Cow pose - good for back pain

The Cow Pose, also known as Bitilasana, is a great way to slowly warm up your spine. This therefore releases some pressure in your lower back. Typically, the cow pose goes with the cat pose, for the most effective pain relief.

Benefits of the Cow Pose:

  • Toning of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Improves flexibility of the spine.
  • Increases coordination.

How to do the Cow Pose:

Step one

Firstly, get into the tabletop pose. Refer to step one and two of the cat pose if you are unsure. As the cow pose is also carried out on all fours, it goes well with the cat pose.

Step two

The cow pose is effectively the opposite of the cat pose. Therefore, instead of arching your back on the exhale you drop your belly towards the floor on the inhale.

Step three

Whilst dropping your belly towards the floor, slowly lift your chest towards the ceiling. Your head should naturally follow as you do this. Be careful not to keep or force your chin onto your chest when you do this.

Step four

If you still have hunched shoulders, push your chest out further. This will allow your shoulders to drop naturally. You must not force this however, let it come naturally to your body.

A Holistic Approach

Cat (Marjaryasana) and Cow (Bitilasana) together allows for a flow of synchronised breath and movement. This is great for strengthening your core which in turn will help your back.

Typically, most people start with the cow although you can start with the cat if you wish. Above are step by step instructions on how to do each pose. If you choose to combine these poses together (recommended) then instead of resuming the tabletop position, you move straight into the next pose.

For example, if you were in the cow pose as you exhaled you would bring your body up all the way until you reached the cat pose (arched back) and vice versa if you started in the cat pose but on the inhale rather than exhale.

The key to these two poses is linking your breath with the movement. This is so that eventually you will end up with a synchronised flow of breath and movement.

Tabletop Pose

What yoga poses are good for back pain

Cow Pose

Cow Yoga Pose

Cat Pose

Cat Yoga Pose


In conclusion, the cat and cow are just two yoga poses which can help with back pain. However, yoga is not a onetime miracle and will not cause back pain to disappear overnight.  When it comes to back pain, especially chronic back pain, it is best to complete a daily yoga routine in order to achieve the best results. Below is a list of other yoga poses which are known to be good for back pain.

  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Upward Facing Dog
  • Sphinx Pose
  • Camel Pose
  • Plow Pose

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