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A 10-Minute Morning Yoga Practice for Your Lower Back

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There was a time when I wouldn’t get on my yoga mat unless it was for a lengthy in-person class. I thought that if I could only practice yoga for a short amount of time, it wasn’t enough or worth it.

I regularly began my mornings with a 6:30 am heated vinyasa class at a studio before heading to work. I loved the routine of it and I was always disappointed when I couldn’t make it. I never even thought to attempt a shorter practice at home.

But two kids and one pandemic later, my ability to start my day with an in-person practice completely changed. Almost without fail, I begin each morning with a short home practice, usually between 10 and 30 minutes. I consider it the most beautiful gift that yoga has given me to date.

How I Came to Understand Any Yoga as a Worthwhile Practice

For a while after becoming a parent, I gave up on my morning practice. I told myself there was no way I’d be able to complete enough yoga before my child woke up.

But I found myself feeling more frazzled than ever in the mornings. That feeling seemed to carry itself into my day much more than I wanted and I knew I had to get back to some sort of morning practice.

I started small, sitting in meditation for a few minutes each morning. I’d crawl out of bed and splash my face with cold water to help wake myself. I eventually fell into a habit of a 20-minute meditation, and at some point, I began to notice that I had some time afterward to spare.

It took me a while to start using that time for asana. It seemed silly to try and squeeze in a practice with only a few moments available. The narrative in my head was that there was no way I’d be able to complete a well-balanced sequence and Savasana, so why even try?

But as I got better at waking up early, I started playing around with micro practices. Some days I’d focus on a brief sequence for a region of the body. Other times I’d string together a few preparatory postures to get me to a particular shape my body was craving that day.

As I continued with my 10-minute morning practices, I started to understand that previously, when I was practicing for longer amounts of time, I was actually getting less out of my practice. I would often go through the motions of postures without being truly present in the shapes as if there was a checklist of postures to get through.

For years, I’ve heard yoga teachers say in class, “listen to your body.” Finally, in the comfort of my own little home studio, I began to understand what that meant. Now, not only do I listen to my body, I’ve started responding to what it tells me. If my hips feel especially creaky one morning, I focus on a mini sequence to help create a little more fluidity and room for understanding what’s happening with them. If I know I’m going to be seated a lot on a particular day, I focus on shapes that counteract sitting.

My morning movement practice has become an intuitive conversation I get to have with my body every single day. Rather than focusing on the outcome of the movement, I focus on the ongoing dialogue of my body, my mind, and of course, my breath. When I move with purpose, even for just a few moments, I can adjust how I approach my entire day. The way I reach through my fingertips in a posture, or the way I place my pinkie toe on the mat, whether with intention or complacency, can entirely change the way the shape feels.

My practices may not be as lengthy as they used to be, but they are more intentional than ever before.

10-Minute Morning Yoga Practice for Your Low Back

The following short and sweet little sequence is one that I practice often when my back asks for some attention. It’s designed to take around 10 minutes, although you can move through it at a more leisurely pace if you have a little time to spare.

(Photo: Renee Choi)


Come to your hands and knees. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Breathe in and lower your belly toward your mat as you reach your sitting bones and gaze toward the ceiling in Cow.

Woman on hands and knees on a yoga mat outside with her back rounded and her neck relaxed
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Breathe out and press your hands into your mat as you pull your ribs and belly toward your back body in Cat. Let the crown of your head drop toward the floor. Repeat, moving with your breath, for 5 cycles.

Woman on a yoga mat in Downward Dog Pose
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Downward-Facing Dog

From Tabletop, lift your hips up and back to Downward-Facing Dog. Keep a bend in your knees so you can focus on lengthening through your back rather than the backs of your legs. Spread your fingers wide and evenly distribute your weight between your hands. Turn your inner arms upward and relax your shoulders. Draw your ribs in toward your back and lift your sitting bones toward the sky. Counter the arch in your low back by heavying your tailbone toward your pubic bone. With your knees slightly bent, press your thigh bones toward the wall behind you. Spread your toes wide and evenly distribute your weight between your hands and feet. Soften your gaze and drop your head so your upper arms line up with your ears. Breathe steadily into the entire length of your back body for 5-10 breaths.

Woman lying on a yoga mat outside with a blossoming tree practicing Sphinx Pose
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Sphinx Pose

From Downward-Facing Dog, shift your shoulders forward over your wrists to Plank Pose and then slowly lower down onto your belly. Place your elbows about an inch in front of your shoulders and align your forearms so they’re parallel with the long sides of the mat in Sphinx Pose. If the sensation in your lower back is too much, scooch your elbows further forward to release your chest closer to the mat. Press your forearms into the mat and puff up your chest. Press the tops of your feet into the ground and feel your knees lift slightly away from the mat. Breathe easily here for at least 5 breaths. Lower your forehead to the mat and place your hands underneath your shoulders.

Woman lying on her belly with her legs, hands, and chest lifted
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Chest, Hands, and Legs up

From lying on your belly with your hands underneath your shoulders, inhale and lift your head, chest, hands, and lower legs off the mat. As you breathe out, lower yourself back down. Repeat at least 3 times and feel the strength of your back body lift you with each breath.

Woman lying on a yoga mat with her legs and arms lifted and her hands interlaced behind her back
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Locust Pose

Continue to rest your hands underneath your shoulders. Breathe in and lift your head, chest, hands, and feet. Breathe out and stretch your arms back and interlace your fingers above your bum. (If your hands do not touch, use a strap, scarf, or towel to bridge the gap, or keep your arms alongside your body.) Point your toes and lift your thighs as you keep your pubic bone on the mat. Lift your heart forward to create a sense of spaciousness along your back body. Keep your gaze relaxed and about a foot in front of the mat so your neck is a natural extension of your spine. Breathe here in Locust Pose for 5-10 cycles. Exhale and release your hands, forehead, and toes to the mat.

Woman on a yoga mat in Downward Dog Pose
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Down Dog-Up Dog

Come into Downward-Facing Dog again. Notice the feeling of your hands and feet on the ground and your breath in your body.

Woman on yoga mat with her hands and legs on the mat with her back arched
(Photo: Renee Choi)

As you breathe in, roll forward through Plank Pose, lower yourself halfway into Chaturanga, and then roll over the top of your feet so that the tops of your feet press downward as you pull your heart forward through your upper arms as you lift your thighs off of your mat. Wrap your inner thighs upward, and broaden across your chest as softly lift your gaze. As you breathe out, shift your hips back to Downward-Facing Dog. Continue this cycle of movement linked with breath 5 times or more.

Woman kneeling on a yoga mat in a low lunge with cactus arms
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Low Lunge

From Downward-Facing Dog Pose, step your right foot forward between your hands. Take care that your forward ankle lines up beneath your knee and keep your back knee lifted. Inhale and sweep your arms overhead in Low Lunge.

Exhale and bend your elbows 90 degrees. Take a moment to lower your back knee slightly so you can move your pubic bone forward and recruit your low belly muscles. Straighten your back leg any amount while keeping the engagement of the lower belly and the length you created in your lower back. Lift your chest and lean back slightly to let your heart fall into the support of your back body. Breathe easily into the shape for 5-10 breaths. Breathe in and straighten your arms alongside your ears. As you breathe out, release your hands to the mat to frame your front foot and step back to Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on the other side.

Woman kneeling on a yoga mat in a low lunge while twisting to the right with her left hand on her thigh
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Low Lunge With a Twist

Repeat Low Lunge, starting from Downward-Facing Dog and stepping your right foot forward between your hands. Take care to slide your foot forward enough so your ankle lines up beneath your knee. Lower your back knee to the mat and untuck your toes. Slowly breathe in and sweep your arms alongside your ears, and as you breathe out twist your left arm forward and your right arm back, keep your arms in line with your shoulders. Place your left forearm across your right thigh and option to bring your back foot toward your bum and hold it with your right hand. If you take this variation, reach the foot away from you for a more active stretch in your quadriceps.

To come out, release your back foot gently, as you inhale, unravel from the twist and sweep your arms overhead. As you exhale, release your hands to the mat to frame your front foot and step back to Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on the other side.

Woman sitting on her yoga mat with her legs extended straight in front of her in Staff Pose.
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Staff Pose

From Downward-Facing Dog, lower your knees to the mat, sit your bum on either side of your heels, and stretch your legs out straight in front of you. Press your sitting bones into the mat. If it’s difficult to straighten your legs, you can keep a slight bend in your knees. Flex your feet as you pull your toes toward your face. Place your palms next to your hips and spread your fingers wide. Press down through your hands as you sit tall and puff your chest slightly in Staff Pose. Take in the feeling of length and space you’ve created in your back body. Feel your breath fill your lung tissue of your back body. Breathe right where you are for 5-10 breaths.

Woman lying on her back on a yoga mat with her back arched and her arms alongside her ears
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Fish Pose

From sitting with your legs straight, make an L shape with your hands by extending your fingers and bringing your thumbs straight out to the sides. Bring your hands behind your low back, and hook your big thumbs. Bend your knees and press your feet into the ground hip-distance apart. Lower onto your forearms, slide your shoulder blades toward one another, and puff your chest. Straighten your legs, press down through your thighs, and point your toes away from you. Pause here to take a breath in and, as you take a breath out, lean the top of your head back on the mat in Fish Pose. Be careful not to place too much weight on your head to avoid straining your neck. You can slide a folded blanket under the crown of your head for support. Breathe into the openness of this shape for 5-10 breaths. To come out, tuck your chin and lower yourself down onto your back.

Woman lying on a yoga mat on her back with her knees bent and her feet on the mat. She's outside on a brick sidewalk with blossoming trees.
(Photo: Renee Choi)

Constructive Rest

While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet mat-width distance apart. Rest your knees together and keep your feet wide. Place your hands on your belly and breathe easily. Take in the feeling of the mat underneath your back body as you receive constructive rest in this shape for several breaths. Remain as you are or extend your legs out long and take your arms by your side for Savasana.

About Our Contributor

Neeti Narula is a yoga and meditation teacher and the Director of Mindful Movement at THE WELL in New York City. Her classes are inspired by various schools of yoga. She is known for teaching alignment-based classes infused with thematic dharma and yoga philosophy. Neeti believes that the way you move and breathe on your mat shapes the way you move and breathe in your life. You can practice with her in person at THE WELL or at Modo Yoga NYC. To learn more about Neeti, check out her Instagram @neeti.narula.

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