Yoga is more than a hobby. It is a way to relax and restore both your mental and physical health. Yoga can also be an effective way to mitigate pain from an injury.
You don’t need to become a master to use yoga to help your injuries. You just need to find a few poses that will help with your specific injury. Luckily, several yoga poses are excellent for relieving pain.
In this article, you will find many yoga poses that can help with injuries ranging from neck injuries to knee injuries, along with poses that can mitigate pain associated with sciatica, lower back pain, and hip replacements.
Yoga for Neck Injuries
Neck injuries are a painful issue that yoga can help resolve. Neck injuries have many causes, including:
- Uneven muscular tension
- Poor posture
- Neck sprain
- Pinched nerves
- Incorrect sleeping positions
There are multiple ways to help these problems. For example, improving your posture and sleeping position can have incredible results. But if you have made these attempts with little results, here are some yoga poses that might help get rid of your neck pain:
- Warrior two
- Melting heart posture
- Two-footed pose
Read on to learn the specific benefits of these poses and how to get into them.
Warrior Two is a pose that is relatively easy for beginners to do. This pose relieves tension in the shoulders as well as the chest.
Here is how to do this pose the right way:
- Begin standing and bring one foot forward.
- Lean into your front foot while bending that knee.
- Spread your arms so that they are parallel to the ground.
- Situate your back hand above your back foot.
- Position your front hand above and in front of your front foot.
Holding this position will stabilize and stretch the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Since it is so simple to do, there is no reason not to try this pose to relieve neck pain.
Melting Heart Posture
Melting heart posture is a more advanced pose that can work wonders for your neck pain. It provides relief throughout your entire upper body.
Below is a quick guide for getting into melting heart posture:
- Begin on all fours with your knees on the floor below your hips.
- Shift your weight back until your knees are at a 45-degree angle.
- Place your chin on the floor with your arms extended in front of you.
- Arch your back as much as you can.
This pose may be difficult at first, but it is worth the effort. The stretching of your neck and shoulders feels great. You can also use this pose to correct an overly rounded spine.
Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose
Much like melting heart posture, the two-footed pose is challenging. While it may be difficult, this pose is incredibly beneficial. Two-footed pose can increase shoulder stability while relieving neck tension.
Here is a brief description of what this pose should look like:
- Begin by lying on your back while facing the ceiling.
- The soles of your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be bent.
- Touch your palms to the floor next to your neck with your thumbs pointing to your ears.
- Raise your body off the floor like you are doing a bridge.
- Arch your back completely to rest your weight on your forearms.
This pose also helps your spine to reach a fully arched position. When holding this pose, gravity helps to loosen those neck muscles. Many neck problems come from constant unrelieved tension in the neck muscles. This pose offers decompression to fix this issue.
Yoga for Shoulder Injuries
The shoulder is a complex joint. Its wide range of motion is what makes this joint so important to our daily tasks. Because the shoulder joint is complicated, it is easy to injure. These injuries can cause pain and affect both strength and mobility.
Some common shoulder injuries include:
- Impingement – This injury happens when shoulder muscles continuously rub against the shoulder bones.
- Instability – When the shoulder joint cannot maintain its normal position, it can lead to dislocation.
- Rotator cuff injuries – These injuries are incredibly unfortunate because they are caused by damage to the muscles and tendons collectively responsible for allowing you to raise your arm above your head.
These shoulder injuries can make everyday actions miserable. As with most injuries, your goal should be to regain strength and mobility in your shoulder joint. Here are some yoga poses that will help to do just that:
- Cow face pose
- Seated eagle arms
- Dolphin pose
You may be surprised by how much these poses will help your shoulders. The sections below will help you get started.
Cow Face Pose
Cow face pose gives a clear idea of your shoulder joint’s true range of motion. In this pose, you will practice both internal and external arm rotation. This helps to loosen the shoulder joint.
Follow these steps to get into cow face pose:
- Begin in an upright seated position.
- Cross one leg over the other, going so far that one knee is directly on top of the other.
- Raise one arm straight up into the air.
- Bend the elbow of your raised arm and place your hand on your spine.
- Bend your other arm so that you can place the back of that hand on your spine with fingers pointing up.
- If your flexibility allows, form a grip between your two hands.
What is most important is not to overstretch in this pose. Maintain a neutral alignment in your spine. Respect your current range of motion and focus on making gradual improvements. Eventually, you can increase mobility in both your shoulders.
Seated Eagle Arms
Seated eagle arms is another pose to help with shoulder mobility. This pose does a great job of stretching the muscles that surround your shoulder joint.
Here is a quick guide to getting into this pose:
- Begin in an upright seated position.
- Wrap one elbow underneath the other.
- Twist your forearms so that your palms are touching.
- Raise your hands while drawing your shoulders downward.
The twisted arm position may be challenging to get into based on your flexibility, but practicing this pose can greatly improve your shoulder’s range of motion.
Dolphin pose is a position that helps shoulder stability. In this pose, you will use your forearms to support your body weight.
Here is a simple way to enter dolphin pose:
- Begin by supporting your body weight with your hands and feet.
- Lower yourself down onto your forearms.
- Press your shoulders away from your ears.
- Slowly walk your feet towards your elbows.
The benefit of this pose is less about mobility and more about strength. By supporting your weight on your forearms, you contribute to the stability of your shoulder joints.
Yoga for Lower Back Pain
Many people suffer from lower back pain. But surprisingly, few are aware of the ways yoga can help this problem. Lower back pain affects people of all ages. Some of the main reasons why lower back pain plagues so many people are:
- Poor posture
- Long hours sitting
- Weak abdominal muscles
These issues happen all the time in our daily lives. You may work at a desk or spend hours driving. In either case, lower back pain has the potential to arise. So how can yoga help? Many yoga poses provide relief for lower back pain. Here are just a few of the many poses targeting the lower back:
- Child’s pose
- Downward dog
If your lifestyle leads to lower back pain, try these yoga poses as a part of your daily routine.
Child’s pose is a beginner’s pose that will help with lower back pain. With minimal effort, you can decompress your spinal column and reduce tightness in multiple muscle groups.
Child’s pose is an easy pose to do:
- Begin on all fours with your knees on the floor below your hips.
- Slowly shift your weight back as your hips move towards your heels.
- Maintain the same position with your hands so that your arms become extended as you shift your weight.
This pose mainly stretches muscles in your shoulders and hips. Loosening these muscles takes pressure off of your lower back as well.
Compared to child’s pose, downward dog represents a small step up in difficulty. But this is nothing unreasonable. The main difference is that you need to support your body weight wall on your hands and feet. This has the added benefit of improved core strength.
Start this position by doing the following:
- Begin on your hands and feet.
- Keep your legs straight.
- Lift your hips up to the ceiling.
- Press your weight into your heels.
- Drop your head.
In doing this pose, you will be stretching the entire backside of your legs. These muscles can work together to pull on your lower back. This only leads to lower back pain. Loosen the muscles, and you may find your relief.
Cobra is another great post for the lower back. In this pose, you’ll be bending your body in the opposite direction than the previous two poses.
Follow these steps to get into this yoga pose:
- Begin to lie face down on your stomach.
- Hug your elbows in toward your ribs Use your hands to lift your torso off the ground.
- Continue bringing your torso upward to increase the stretch.
This will give a good stretch to your abs. Meanwhile, your spinal muscles will be getting stronger. The stronger your back is, the more stable it becomes. This stability reduces your risk of continuing to injure your back.
Cat and cow are two different poses. However, they work seamlessly together. They are also extremely easy to do.
Here’s how to use these poses to help your lower back:
- Get on all fours.
- Your wrist, elbow, and shoulder should form a straight vertical line.
- To achieve cow pose, Inhale, arch your back and look upward. Your navel will naturally drop towards the floor.
- For cat pose, Exhale, bend your back the opposite way while tucking your chin to your chest. Your back should be rounded at this point.
Once you have mastered these two poses, you can use them together. Alternate between cat and cow pose as you please. This will add mobility to your spine while stretching many muscles on your torso’s front and back.
Yoga for Sciatica
Sciatica is a nuisance for many people. Those who have this condition experience pain that spreads throughout the lower back, hips, and down the side of the legs. This pain often occurs in one leg rather than both.
Here are a few causes of sciatica:
- Herniated disk
- Spinal stenosis
- Bone spur
These issues affect the sciatic nerve, typically on one side of the body. In most cases, sciatica can be resolved without medical intervention. One of the best ways to remedy the pain caused by sciatica is to use the following yoga poses:
- Reclined pigeon pose
- Wind-relieving pose
- Bridge pose
Learn more about these poses below and begin your journey to a life free of sciatica pain.
Reclined Pigeon Pose
This altered version of pigeon pose involves less strain and difficulty. It also is one of the best poses for improving hip flexibility.
To do reclined pigeon pose, follow these steps:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Place the ankle of one leg on the thigh of the other.
- The knee of your raised leg should point to the side, indicating an open hip position.
- To deepen the stretch, pull your legs towards your chest.
Reclined pigeon pose loosens your hips and specifically targets the piriformis muscle. This muscle is near the sciatic nerve and can contribute to pain in that region.
This pose is an alternative for those who struggle with reclined pigeon pose. If you have limited hip flexibility, wind-relieving pose remains an option for relieving sciatica.
Getting into this pose is pretty easy to do:
- Begin by lying down on your back while facing the ceiling.
- Pull your knees to your chest while holding them with your hands.
- Deepen the stretch by lifting your head towards your knees.
Wind-relieving pose is an easy way to loosen your hips and glutes. But be warned that this position is no misnomer. It often results in a release of built-up gas in the digestive system.
Bridge pose has a different focus than the two previous poses. Rather than improving mobility, bridge pose is better at building strength. It is also a dynamic post that involves repetitions rather than a static hold.
Here is how to do bridge pose:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Your arms should lie flat against your sides, palms facing down.
- Inhale, press into the floor with your feet, raising your butt as high off the floor as possible.
- Exhale, lower your but back to the floor and repeat the motion.
Repeating this movement increases spinal flexibility and strengthens the hips and glutes. This movement also promotes circulation throughout the body. These results all have a positive impact on pain in the sciatic region.
Yoga for Knee Pain
Knee injuries are very common. These injuries can come in any of the following forms:
These injuries come in varying degrees of severity. But in most cases, the cause of these problems is an excessive pulling or twisting force on the knee joint. In extreme cases, these forces can cause a tear in one of the major ligaments in your knee.
It is common for athletes to tear one or more of these ligaments. These injuries come with a long recovery time in which the knee is mainly not in use. Lack of use naturally leads to a weakness in the knee joint. To cope with this, it is important to follow a routine that rebuilds your knee’s strength. The following poses offer this opportunity:
- Supported chair pose
- Warrior one
- Half-moon pose
Read on to learn how to use these poses to help with your knee injuries.
Supported Chair Pose
Supported chair pose is a safe way to re-establish some stability in your knee joint. It will also help you to improve your balance.
Here is a safe way to do supported chair pose:
- Begin in a standing position near a wall.
- Place your feet about shoulder-width apart; widen your stance slightly so that your feet are below your shoulders.
- Lean back against the wall so that your backside touches the wall, using the wall to support your weight.
- Lower your body until your knees form a 90-degree angle.
The isometric strength in your legs will determine how long you can hold this pose. The static nature of the pose means you will be working on your stabilizing muscles. This stability is essential to the rehabilitation of your knee joint.
After you master supported chair pose, you can move on to the regular version of the pose. This involves getting in a similar position without the help of a wall. You will also need to raise your hands above your head. This acts as a counterbalance as you continue to bend your knees. Getting to an unsupported chair pose is a great sign of your knee-strengthening progress.
Warrior One is a classic standing pose in yoga. It is suitable even for those just starting yoga because it is so easy to do.
These are the steps to follow to get into Warrior One pose:
- Begin in a standing position.
- Step one foot forward a few feet.
- Keeping your toes pointed forward, bend forward into a lunge.
- Raise your arms straight up into the air.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Raise your chin.
This pose contributes to your overall balance. It also adds strength to the muscles around your knee joint. Remember that the front knee is the one that reaps the primary benefits of the pose. So be sure to practice this with your injured knee forward.
Half-moon pose is another standing pose that will benefit an injured knee. Much like chair pose, there is an option to do a supported version of half-moon pose. However, in this case, the support is meant more help balance rather than compensating for lack of strength.
Below is a guide to the half-moon pose:
- Stand with your back to a wall.
- Rotate one foot so that the toes are pointing outward.
- Raise your other foot and bend your body down sideways, hand touches the floor or a yoga block.
- Your raised foot and head should form a straight line parallel to the floor.
- Hold your arms straight so that they form a line perpendicular to the floor.
The wall acts as a safety precaution. If you feel like you are losing your balance, just lean against the wall until you regain it. For added safety, place a block at your side on the floor. When in the half-moon pose, rest your hand on the block for increased stability.
This pose is great for practicing balance. Improved balance is the result of an increase in the strength of your stabilizing muscles. This will only help to improve the function of an injured knee.
Yoga for Hip Replacements
Those with hip replacements should approach any physical activity with caution. Yoga is no exception to this.
When done properly, there are a few poses that will help with hip replacement recovery. They are:
- Mountain pose
- Tree pose
- Half-forward fold
These three poses help to restore mobility in your hip joint. But as mentioned above, practice these poses with extreme care. Pushing too far can dislocate your replaced hip.
At first glance, it is hard to see how mountain pose can have any benefit. It looks like nothing more than standing still, but some subtle details make this pose very useful. Mountain pose is essentially a practice in upper body posture.
Here’s how to get into the pose:
- Stand straight with your feet beneath your shoulders.
- Point your toes forward.
- Ensure even weight distribution between your feet.
- Rotate your arms so that your palms face forward.
This posture helps you align your spine. The rotation of the hands accentuates this benefit. As you stabilize your spine, you will improve your overall posture. This will help you as you adjust to your new hip.
Practicing tree pose will help both your strength and your balance. This dual benefit is especially helpful for people recovering from a hip replacement. This pose involves standing on one foot. So be sure you trust your balance before attempting this. Option to stand next to a wall incase you loose balance.
To get into tree pose, this is what your need to do:
- Begin in a standing position.
- Raise one foot and place it on the inner upper thigh of your other leg, or at the base of your foot (but avoiding the knee).
- Point the knee of your raised leg to the side.
Tree pose helps you to open your hips and increase mobility in that joint. Regularly practicing this pose will help with the range of motion in your hips. It will also help you move more freely due to improved balance and stability.
All these outcomes positively impact your ability to use your replacement hip to its full potential.
The half-forward fold is like the common hamstring stretch that involves standing and touching your toes. For those with a replaced hip, remain safe by using a wall for stability.
This is what half-forward fold looks like:
- Begin in mountain pose.
- Bend your knees slightly.
- Hinge at the hips until they reach a 90-degree angle.
- Maintain a straight spine.
- Let your arms hang with your palms facing down.
With this pose, there is no need to fold past a 90-degree hip angle. This eliminates any unneeded pressure on your hips. Meanwhile, you will be giving a good stretch throughout your hamstrings and spine.
This will help to restore mobility in both your upper and lower body. You receive this benefit with very little risk and difficulty.
How Yoga Helps Injuries
So far, you’ve learned how yoga can help specific injuries. But what are the underlying aspects of yoga that make it so effective in injury rehabilitation?
The Goals of Injury Rehabilitation
After an injury, rehabilitation can restore the function of that body part to its original level. This is true, regardless of the particular injury you have. That’s why rehabilitation programs commonly have the following goals:
- Improving mobility
- Increasing strength
- Preventing future injury
The Positive Impact of Yoga
Yoga has a generally positive impact on injuries to the human body. This practice not only helps existing injuries, but it also helps with injury prevention.
A regular yoga routine helps to prevent and treat injuries by:
- Strengthening stabilizing muscles
- Supporting bone health
- Strengthening tendons and ligaments
- Improving flexibility and balance
Coincidentally, the goals of a rehabilitation program overlap with the results of a yoga routine. This shows yoga to be beneficial for injuries in a general sense.
Injuries are an unfortunate part of life that almost everyone will have to deal with at some point or another. The recovery process can be long and challenging, but a focused yoga routine can have surprising results. Find a pose for your injury, and you may soon reduce your discomfort.