Everyday Somatic Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 2

The Back Pain Special

35 min - Practice


Enjoy a "full-body yawn" as you bring energy and attention to the low back and ease pain in this region. We begin exploring somatic micro-movements, small engagements and releases, and pandiculation, the typically involuntary stretching of the soft tissues, to bring hydration and blood flow into low back. We move through a gentle Yoga flow of modified Sun Salutes, lunges, and forward folds, before returning to our opening somatic movements. Your will notice greater vitality, release, and freedom in your low back.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this session where we'll be putting energy and attention into the region of our low back. For today, you might want a couple of blocks to support you through the lunges, and you may want a blanket for underneath your knees. We'll start the session on our back. So you can join me. Taking your feet forward, rolling down onto your low back, letting your head hit the floor, and perhaps making some movements with your shoulder blades so you feel nice and flush.

To the mat. I hope this session feels like a full body yawn for you through your body, So you might even start that by simulating a yawn or maybe there's a yawn in there. And with the somatic section, we often begin with landing. Letting our body make contact with Earth and becoming a little more aware of that contact, the parts of your body that are touching Earth. You might notice your breathing, and this is an opportunity to slow your breath down a fraction.

We'll start with the somatic arch n curl. So as you're ready, bring in your awareness into the region of your hips, your pelvis, and beginning to tip your pelvis so that your low back makes contact with the earth if it's not already. And then rolling your pelvis forwards into that anterior tilt where your tailbone comes closer to the floor and your low back comes off of the floor. Now let's cycle through this. You might use your breath, exhale, press back into the earth, curl tailbone up, and then inhale arching back away from the floor pressing tailbone to earth.

You might even close your eyes for this part. And keep going with the movement, perhaps with your breath. This is one of my favorite movements to bring blood flow, awareness, movement, hydration into the area of my lower back. One detail you might get curious about here could be where are you initiating movement from? Are you initiating the movement from your low back?

Are you using your low back muscles to make this movement happen. And is it possible for you to really initiate movement in your pelvis? Getting that tip, rock, and roll of your pelvis to create the movement. For 5, for 3. 2.

And when? Then let yourself come to neutral spine And you might close your eyes and notice the echo of that practice. Often we go right into an area of our bodies that feels discomfort or pain, Is it possible to tune into a space that feels pleasurable right now? Maybe spacious. Maybe neutral.

Let's take our hands now behind the back of our head, and we'll we'll move our right leg first curling our head and our right leg in towards center, your low back will press into the floor and then reach everything out. You can make a big y with your hands, and let your right leg release. Let the pinky toe side of the foot drop to the floor. And as much as you can, relax the right side of your load back, we'll do that three more times. Hands to head, Curl everything in.

Doesn't matter how close you get. Bring your thigh close to your torso. Pause a moment. And then reach everything out and melt. That's one. You can do this with your breath.

So exhale drawing in. And in, he'll release out. You can do a little jelly roll or wobble of your leg as well there and take a breath. And 2 more. Curl everything in. Reach everything out.

Wobble and release. And last one, curling in, and reaching out we can wobble and release the right side of your low back to the best of your ability and switching sides. So right leg in, left leg, draws towards chest, and then reach everything out. Wobble and release. Drawing in. So you might notice here if your body loves to activate into that curl or to release, What do you prefer? Which one does your body prefer?

Curl in and release out. And if your body prefers the release, focus a little more on the activation. 2 more here. And if your body loves that activation in hard to release a little bit more. Focus on the release. Last one.

Taking a moment with this. So if you want to, and then let your feet plant again, We'll go for the right side. So this time your arms can be out in a t or a y. We'll let our right leg fall out to the side and then draw right elbow and knee together crunching your right side and then reach out and diagon a little bit. So your right foot and your right hand go to the left side of your mat.

It's a crescent opening or a banana shape. Curling. So three more. Contract the right side and then open like an accordion. Curling. You can do this with your breasts as well, inhale to open if you like.

Last one, exhale to curl. Inhale to open up. You might linger there in the big side stretch. Perhaps taking your low back a little. Closer to the floor and switching sides. Left leg can fall out to the side arms a bit wide, and then left elbow and left knee crunch towards each other. Contraction.

And then opening into a crescent. Left foot. Left hand to the right side of the mat. Curling in. Maybe that exhale press and then inhale opening into the side stretch. 2 more.

You can move at your own pace if I'm moving a little too quick. Are a little too slow for you. Make it yours. And then linger here on that side stretch. Make a banana.

Take your load back a little closer to the floor, see how that feels. Full body yawn. Come back into the center, and you're invited to draw your knees in towards your chest. You can cross at your ankles here, perhaps you hold on to your knees and create circles circling your pelvis to Earth switch directions, if you like. You might close your eyes. And as you're making little movements, Is it possible for you to tune into any good sensations in your body?

Nice. You could roll all the way up rock and roll, or you might roll to the side to come up. Coming on to your hands and your knees. And this might be a place for some of you that you would like to have your blocks at the front of your mat. On your hands and knees, tuck toes reach back into your down dog paddle out your feet. Your breath in.

Your breath out. So nice. You can walk your feet as you're ready towards your hands. Always welcome to use blocks. Elbows on knees for a breath in and a halfway lift and a forward fold. Rute your heels.

Take your arms out to the sides. Come all the way up. Reach. And let your hands come together at your heart if that's a gesture that you like. You're invited to make sound here start the flow practice your breath in.

Your breath out. Together. Your breath in there. Let your hands fall by your sides. On your inhale circle, your arms up.

On your exhale, forward fold over your legs. Inhale, legs and your spine. Exhale step back to your downward facing dog. Inhale roll through an angry cat plank. You can take your knees down or not lower slowly to your abdomen.

Hands forward's toenails down, inhale, little cobra, and exhale. You can come to your knees or towards your plank, tuck toes back into down or facing form. Your breath in. Your breath out. One more like that. Fill your lungs.

Empty everything. As you're ready, bend your knees, you can step, or however you do find the top of your mat, halfway lift, forward fold. Worms out to the sides come all the way up. Release your arms. One more like that.

Inhale circle up. Forward fold. Halfway left, down dog. Roll through that angry cat plank. You confirm your legs if you want, lower all the way to your abdomen or come to your knees, untucked toes, hands, forwards. COBRA.

And up and back to your downward facing form. Make it yours. Your breath in. Your breath out. One more breath there, you might tune into pleasure or goodness or space in your body, orienting towards pleasure as the path, not the goal. On your exhale, bend your knees.

You could step forward. Inhale halfway lift. Forward fold. All the way up, you come. Release your arms.

Variation here. Arms up. Forward fold. Create link there, you're halfway lift. And then step your right foot back into a long lunge. Back toes tucked.

You might want your blocks underneath your hands here. Pulls back through your right heel for 5. For 4. For 3. For 2, I love this for getting into the Achilles.

For 1, and roll over your right set of toes, toe nail side down, and lower your right knee to the floor so you are coming into a 9090 lunge. Some of you might like to take a blanket under that knee. As you're ready, inhale come up into that 9090. And exhale let your hands come to your pelvis. Let's come back into that somatic arch and curl here.

So we'll arch our pelvis forwards and then curl our tailbone under, and you can let your spine follow. Inhale to arch. And exhale to round. Keep going with it. You can tuck your back set of toes if you like to create a little more stability through your back leg.

You might do this with your breath. And notice if one hip wants to be a little higher than the other, if one hip wants to go to the side a little bit more than the other, bringing your sense of awareness and curiosity to this movement. Let's add our arms in. So on the inhale, you can open up into a big y arch your pelvis forwards. And on the exhale, take your hands, interlocked onto your left knee, and curl under pressing into your hands, somersault, and your chest forwards.

Linger a bit in each of them. Inhale open. And then exhale, I'm gonna have curl under. That's the invitation. One more like that inhale.

Open it up and exhale curl under and press. Come to neutral there. And we'll take our right elbow towards our right side. So crunching a little on that right side. Left hand on left knee open up into a side bend here.

Crunch a little onto that side. Lots of leg stability going on here. And then open into a side bend a couple more times notice if you tend to arch your spine a lot on the side bend. And if you can go straight over to the side, keeping some containment in your front ribs. Come to center.

Reach your arms up and then hands to the earth or perhaps to blocks, pop up your back knee. I'm gonna move the blanket over for myself there. Because next movement will walk all the way around to the long right edge of our mats. Take your hands forwards. Take a breath in.

On your breath out, walk forwards. Let your head hang to the earth. Might not touch. You can always adjust your feet. Your breath in. Perhaps lifting your shoulders a little bit.

Your breath out. Then we'll come back up onto our hands and walk our hands over to the back of our mat, getting a little longer through that left side, side bend. If you can think about it, draw your your low abdomen a little in, kind of closing the door of your abdomen and opening the left side. Big left side yawn. Walk it all the way around to the front of your mat with your right hand, spider finger forwards, maybe draw the low belly in a tad, feeling the side of your low back get long.

From the front of your mat, walk all the way around to frame your left foot shape of a lunge and step back into your downward facing dog. Your breath in. Empty it out. Walk it towards the top of your mat. Halfway lift.

Tip your pelvis forwards forward fold. Come all the way up. Stand and reach. Release your arms. Nice. Arms up. Other side.

Forward fold. Lengthen and take your left foot back into that long lunge. You might take blocks underneath your hands, pulse back through your left heel, getting into your left Achilles for 5. 4. 3.

Strong left knee. 2. And 1. Then we'll roll over our left foot of toes, toe nail side down, left knee to the earth into that ninety ninety shape, and you might blanket it up. As you're ready, come all the way up, and then let your hands come to your pelvis. Getting into that arch and that curl under of our pelvis, just as we did it in the beginning, keep going with this.

Can you feel if you are using your low back muscles to initiate this movement, or can you keep it in your pelvis, letting your pelvis lead the movement, and your low back follow. Perhaps this allows you to keep a little more softness in the region of your low back. We can do 3 here with a big y and then interlocking hands onto the right knee and pushing into a somersault. What does that do to the front of your left hip? A big, why 2 more? You might tuck your back toes under for a bit more stability.

Curl. One more like that. Open it up and then curl under. Press. Come on up to more of a neutral spine.

Left elbow now down towards the left knee right hand on the right knee, crunch the left side, and then all pin it up. I'm imagining I'm throwing a ball with my top hand and really following through there, exhale, curl in. And I hear you might feel quite a bit of stabilizing work through your legs, opening it up curling in could be with your breath. So nice opening up, get up, and try to go straight over to the side and dead of back bending, come all the way into the center, arms up, Hands touch the floor. Tuck your back set of toes under, lift up into that lifted knee low lunge. I'm going to take my blanket over to the side here, and we'll walk all the way around to the long left edge of the mat.

You can take a breath in. On your exhale, adjust your feet. Fold it in. Ugh. Your head might not touch the floor. That's even better because your neck will have an opportunity to lengthen.

Let's come on back up for the side bend. So back of our mat, walk your right fingertips out, open the right side, and let your low belly have floor repellent on it so draw up and open that left side into the right side into a side bend. All the way to the front. Walk it over. Feel welcome to use blocks to lift you up a bit here Don't worry about your hips shifting side to side.

Get into the left side of your low back. Walk all the way around to frame your right foot, shape of a lunge, hand plant step back into your down or a facing dog, pedal it out. Your breath in. Exhale everything. However, you do make it to the top of your mat, halfway lift, forward fold.

Let's come all the way up. Open up your arms, reach, touch the sky. And release your arms. Coming all the way to the earth. Arms up.

Forward fold. Find length. Step back to your downward facing angry, cat plank. Take your knees to the floor if you like. Lower to your abdomen. Untuck your toes, find your cobra, maybe some. It's an up dog, up and back to downward facing dog.

You can lower to your knees here, swing your shins to the side, hips to the earth, come on through, feet forwards. Perhaps you glue your heels to the earth and lower segmentally through your spine. You might hold onto your legs here. Play with releasing your arms and sacrum low back. Mid back, upper back.

Come on, town. Place your feet back into that constructive rest. And you might close your eyes and let a breath come in and out. And can you tune into pleasure or goodness or space, whatever word you connect to, to find some ease within. And we'll come back to the same movements we started with. So with awareness in your pelvis, land, and locate the bones of your pelvis, the sacrum bone at the center of the back of your pelvis start to arch and curl your pelvis to the earth, arching away, perhaps an in breath, and then pressing low back to earth curling pelvis So tailbone reaches towards the sky.

So at your own pace, explore it, you might get curious about closing your eyes for this part And is it possible that you notice more movement, more ease? What do you notice here? You might do this for 5 with your breath for and, again, Where are you initiating the movement from? Is it your low back now, or do you have a little more control with your pelvis to And one. Noticing the echo of that neutral spine and hands behind the back of your head. Interlock right knee in towards your chest in, towards your head, and then release everything out like you're melting can wobble and release the right side of your low back curl everything in, activate, pause, and then slide everything out.

You might even let your head rock side to side, jelly roll your leg. One more. And can you pour a little of the opposite in if you're really good at contracting? Can you focus on the release? And vice versa.

Linker in the release for a moment, let's switch sides. Left me in. Pause. Get a little tight. And then open it up. Release any little movements that supported.

Crawl everything in. Can you let your chest come towards your knee, and then open it up and release. Feel free to take a little longer in one phase if you need. What's different about that time? And then you can bring your right knee in or your left knee in and let your right knee fall out to the side.

Right knee red oval come close right side contracts, and then this is the biggie on part. Open up on the right side. This is called a penticulation. It's kind of like a normal movement we would do when we wake up in the morning. Kind of curl in.

And then just like a yawn, open up out of that contraction. One more time on that side. Curling. And open up linger in that more open, long, right side a little, you might take your right wrist with your left hand. And bring your load back a little closer to the floor.

Let it be pleasurably intense as Eric Schiffman says and switch sides into the middle. So it's the left knee falling open, left elbow, left knee together, contract the left side, and then open into that full body on. Two more times. Let it be at your own pace. Let it be a little bit messy.

One more time. Bringing more information here to the tissue of our low back to this range of activation and release. Linger. You could take your left wrist with your right hand and bring your low back closer to the floor. And then let yourself come into the middle and make any movements that you need to to rest yourself in your final closing form. I'm gonna show you here something I love do is placing my blocks underneath my knees. So if my low back feels a little further away from the floor, this allows a bit more of a descent of the tissue of myeloma back towards the floor.

So you could explore it. You could take your shoulder blades down your back, open up into a place where you feel like you can settle a bit. You can get all the wiggles out You might take a big breath in. Feel welcome to Sai or to Jan. And here's the part where you get to scan your body and notice if anything feels different, notice the residue of your practice.

Notice where your awareness is flowing. You might close your eyes. And the invitation here could be to let your awareness langer in a region of your body that might feel spacious, good, filled with ease, perhaps even pleasurable, and led that Let that area grow. Let it breathe. Let it fill your whole being. You might gently breathe into your low back.

See if you can feel any movement in the muscles and tissue of your low back when you breathe in. And you're certainly welcome to stay here for as long as you need to. You might also weekly your fingers and toes and reach into a full body stretch. You might take your knees in. Give yourself a hug.

Enroll to a side. Press yourself to a seat. Perhaps, you sit on a blanket here. And in your seat, if you like the gesture of having your hands together, you might do that. You might bow your head and take a breath in as you breathe out, acknowledge that you took this time to attend to yourself, to your needs, and make choices that support you.

You might feel inspired to pay that forward to other beings and the earth. Thank you for being here. Shanti Peace.


M Angela C
5 people like this.
Looking forward to explore this season of  practices. I am curious to learn more . I really appreciated your teaching and cues  and the before and after ‘bookend’ provided additional insight for me.  My lower body feels more spacious and balanced after the practice. Thank you!
Lydia Zamorano
M Angela C Thanks for practicing and commenting Angela. I'm so happy you felt a difference with this exploratory session. Keep me posted on how the others land for you. With warmth and care, Lydia 
Jenny S
4 people like this.
This was such a soothing practice…like M Angela C, I found the “bookend” format to be insightful as I reflected on the before and after effects.  The lunge focus in the middle was indeed deceptively activating!  My body feels awake and my mind is focused - ready to take on the rest of my day 🙏🏻❤️
Lydia Zamorano
Jenny S So happy to hear that you find the "bookend" format helpful and useful! Most of the somatic classes in this series use that format so that we might be able to check in on a deeper level. Looking forward to how the other practices go for you Jenny! Warmth, Lydia 
David G-
3 people like this.
Hey Lydia: 

My first practice in my new place. Brought some Shanti into it with this practice. My lower back was aching putting together a piece of furniture, so this was exactly what I needed for active recovery. I loved putting my mind into the pelvis to initiate the cat/cows... You mentioned the banana movement had a name. What was that called? So good to see you on this gorgeous set. Namaste, friend. 
Christel B
2 people like this.
Yes, the bookend format was fabulous as it let me see the before and after effect. I got up and my back was not so happy but by the end of the session it was back in gear ready for the day. I appreciated the cue of observing where you started the pelvic tilt from and noticed a change through this awareness.  Enjoyed some new forms. Cheers 
Kate M
2 people like this.
Just love this practice - gentle, focused, and healing : )
Lydia Zamorano
Christel B Christel, so happy the format provided a space for heightened awareness. Also thrilled to hear your back loved this practice. Wising you a peaceful holiday. Lydia 
Lydia Zamorano
Kate M So happy to hear that Kate! Wishing you a peaceful holiday. Warmth and care, Lydia 
Lydia Zamorano
David G- Was it Bananasana? :) 
My heart is warmed knowing that this was the first practice in your space. Thank you for letting me know! Wishing you the cosiest and most peaceful holiday my friend. Lydia 
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