Yoga Workshop for Psoas and Lower Back Pain Relief in Sacramento, CA

Resolving Lower Back and Hip Pain with Yoga


On March 8th, 2020, I held a three hour long workshop called Resolving Lower Back and Hip Pain with Yoga at Looma Yoga in Sacramento, California. Along with separate asana sequences, we reviewed the philsophy, science and techniques of traditional Yoga along with Traditional Chinese Medicine which have been developed and proven to help relieve people of lower back pain and tight hips.

Are you looking for ways to help lower back pain using yoga? Below, I share some simple tips and insights from the workshop for doing so, along with various dietary aides and supplements that may be beneficial in helping reduce inflammation in the joints and muscles.

The workshop itself proved to be very valuable to all who attended. If you are looking for help with lower back pain or imbalances in the hips and spine, I am available for private yoga sessions in person and online.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory on Low Back Pain & Kidneys:

The low back is considered closely related to the kidneys in Chinese Medicine and, often, low back pain is treated as a symptom of stagnant Qi, or what is often referred to as energy in the Western world, in the kidney region. As the health and balance of Qi affects healthy blood flow and blood flow also affects the movement of Qi, Chinese Medicine often treats low back pain by activating better blood flow and, therefore, movement of Qi energy through the Kidney meridians which run through the low back. 

An excess in the emotions of fear and anxiety along with unregulated levels of high stress in one’s life are considered to impact the health of the low back in Chinese Medicine as well, and when we look to the the science of Yoga, it guides us to the same conclusion. In fact, in this workshop we will go over some lesser known poses, from what many refer to as Chinese yoga, which support the spine and open the psoas for back relief through activating the Kidney meridians and working along smaller, deeper muscle groups than one might effectively through a yoga practice in a style such as hatha or vinyasa.

The Swadhisthana (Sacral) Chakra and Lower Back Health:

In the science of yoga, we learn there are seven major chakras which play vital roles in the overall health and performance of a human being. Parallel to what has been explained above regarding the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) perspective on lower back health, the regulation of emotions is linked to the same physical region of the body in the Swadhistana chakra.

Each chakra is located near a major nerve plexus of the Parasympathic Nervous System, all of which are connected by the Vagus nerve and provide stimulation to local glandular groups. We can regulate regions associated with each chakra by activating and moving Qi through asana & breathwork practice specifically developed through the science of yoga.

On a more subtle level, a yogi can engage in specific pranayama practices which have been developed in order to target various blockages and/or conditions in the subtle body. We refer to the body primarily composed of or Qi or prana as the subtle body. The subtle body, emotional body, physical body and mind are all integrated systems which affect and communicate with each other countless time on a daily basis.

But what does all of this have to do with the health of our lower backs? Well, going back to our discussion about Qi and its relation to feelings of fear or anxiety, we realize it is through releasing these emotions that we experience deeper states of homeostasis. Because yoga asana & breathwork stimulates the endocrine system, promoting healthy glandular activity, and nourishes the nervous system, one can achieve consistent emotional balance and resilience through a regular yoga practice.


Yoga poses which target the lower back and Swadhistana chakra:

Frog (Bhekasana)

Yogi Squat (Malasana)

Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)

Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Lizard (Utthan Pristhasana)

***Please note, asana is best practiced and most effective in a full sequence structure, which means there is a warm up to be considered before jumping into any of these and counter poses to follow, primarily for safety reasons. ***


Those who are familiar with the sister science to Yoga called Ayurveda are likely to be familiar with Abhyanga, too. Abhyanga is a practice of self massage using natural oils, such as sesame or coconut, which are both warmed up and used in the traditional practice. I personally also enjoy using argan oil for abhyanga and as an everyday moisturizer too! Keep in mind that you can infuse any of these oils with essential oils, too, for a more relaxing aromatherapy effect!

The benefits of abhyanga include reduced stress levels, muscle relaxation and improved bloog circulation among many others. 

How Can Our Diets Affect Our Back Health?


So we’ve all probably heard about the increase in gluten-free food product availability in markets and restaurants, and for good reason! It’s not just a fad and gluten-induced discomfort is not something those with Celiac Disease are prone to exclusively. 

Many people are actually what is considered “gluten sensitive,” and they experience inflammation outside of the digestive system as a result of consuming food products and dishes made with ingredients carrying gluten. It is very common, in fact, for people with gluten sensitivity to experience inflammation of the joints. Studies have also shown that those who are gluten sensitive are also more prone to headaches, fatigue, skin conditions

It is possible that joint and muscle inflammation is a result of gluten sensitive people who also have what is considered an “over-sensitive” nervous system. Therefore, one change we can make in our diets is lowering our gluten intake or removing it all together.

Nutrition in General

First and foremost, when it comes to talking about diet and overall physical health, maintaining a healthy body weight is the single most helpful thing we can do for our joint and optimal physical performance. This can be achieved through a smart and well informed approach to diet including whole foods which are nutrient rich in order to reinforce your vitality and satisfy your appetite.

Here are just a few key nutrients for optimal muscular and joint health along with foods which are rich in each. I’ve written the ones that show up often on expert superfoods lists. 🙂

Magnesium: cacao (dark chocolate, yes!), almonds, spinach, bananas, avocadoes

Potassium: bananas, lentils, spinach, salmon, coconut water, watermelon, potatoes

Iron: quinoa, dark chocolate, spinach, broccoli, turkey, oysters, dried apricots, legumes

Calcium: almonds, broccoli, cheese, rhubarb, kale, sesame, chia seeds, figs

Vitamin D: salmon, tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms and good ol’ sunshine 🙂

Vitamin B12: nutritional yeast, trout, salmon, eggs, beef

Omega 3’s (alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid): walnuts, sardines, canola oil, chia seeds, spinach, salmon, flax

Hydration is also a factor that is too easy to look over. Stay hydrated! If you work out a lot, I recommend coconut water for it’s ability to deeply hydrate while providing the electrolytes necessary to replace those we lose while sweating.

Turmeric, Onions and Garlic are Anti Inflammatory Foods

Aside from making things taste absolutely delicious and giving us bad breath, onions and garlic both have anti-inflammatory properties because they carry quercetin and allicin, anti-oxidants that aide in relieving arthritis and inflammation in general, especially red onions.

Turmeric, when prepared with a fatty component like olive oil (which is also great for inflammation) can work wonders on inflammation because it carries curcumin. The fatty component helps is travel through the digestive system so it work it’s magic. It is commonly found in curries and stir frys but it’s easy to add to scrambled eggs (with a dash of cumin for extra flavor!), smoothies and sauces. Start by adding small quantities because although it is a relatively subtle tasting spice, too much can absolutely ruin things. 

A couple other less talked about but effective anti inflammation allies include red grapefruit and camu camu.