With historic roots stretching back thousands of years to ancient India, yoga is a practice that has stood the test of time.
Devotees will tell you: regular practice can ease pain and provide natural stress relief.
And there is a growing body of evidence to suggest it could be true.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that between 70 and 90 per cent of us will experience lower back pain during our lives. But people who do yoga once a week suffer far less than those who receive traditional care, reports the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Here are seven gentle poses that can relieve back and shoulder tension, while bringing you back to earth in times of stress.
One of the most restorative yoga poses, child’s pose is a great way to start your practice. By bringing your toes together and spreading your knees wide, it also becomes a gentle hip stretch.
How to do it: Reach your arms long, take in big inhale through your nose, then a long exhale out your mouth. With each exhale let your chest soften towards the floor a little more. This feels beautiful on the lower back — a good pose if you spend long days in a chair. If it’s more comfortable, rest your forehead on a block or folded-up towel.
Another nice pose to relieve back and shoulder tension. The gentle flexion and extension movements you make while breathing deeply mobilise your spine and shoulder girdle.
How to do it: Set up on all fours, with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees under your hips. Inhale through your nose, look forward and lift your sitting bones to the ceiling. Slide your shoulders away from your ears. Now exhale, press your hands into the floor and lengthen your arms. Let your head gently tip forward as your tailbone lowers down and your spine reaches towards the ceiling. Repeat this as many times as you like: inhale to look forward, exhale to lower. Close your eyes and see if you can articulate each vertebra as you move.
The mother of all yoga poses; when done correctly dog is a resting pose. It helps iron out kinks in a stiff spine and opens stiff shoulders.
How to do it: Start in child’s pose with your arms long and shoulder-width apart. Firmly press your hands into the ground then push through them as you tuck your toes and lift your hips up. If you have tight hamstrings, keep your knees bent and heels up. Focus on lengthening your spine and rotating your sitting bones towards the ceiling. Spin your armpits towards each other to broaden your shoulders across your back.
Standing forward bend