Exaggerated Swayback: What Can I Recommend for My Student?


One student has an exaggerated swayback. This condition seems to bring on lower back pain. Besides avoiding poses that aggravate the pre-condition, what can I recommend to be pro-active for a swayback, beyond tucking the tailbone and avoiding certain poses?


Lisa Powers
Ananda Village
Nevada City, California

With exaggerated “swayback” a student would want to do their asanas in ways that would balance the imbalance. Provided there is no other condition in the lumbar spine, this would be a student who would want to allow the lumbar to straighten and relax into a gentle flexed position during forward bends. This reverses the usual imbalance.

She also needs to pay attention and observe that if, in the 24 hours following a yoga practice, she experiences an increase in discomfort, this may not be the solution for her. Also, in doing backward bends — use restraint and don’t “go all the way.” Being aware of maintaining good posture, especially not locking the knees and holding the upper body lifted upward when walking and standing can help. You should also check to see if she has scoliosis.

Doug Andrews
Ananda Yoga of the Redwoods
Boulder Creek, California

I would recommend working to relax and lengthen the hip flexors to relieve lower back pain from an exaggerated sway back; Standing Backward Bends, high lunges, kneeling lunges (w/arms uplifted) and Pigeon Pose all are good examples of ilio-psoas extenders.

Be sure to make use of the reciprocal relaxation of the opposing muscle groups as well with standing forward bends, down-dogs, posterior stretches and piriformis/hamstring stretches to the wall or on the open floor).

Exaggerated, very slow pelvic tilts are also nice between the various floor exercises. Hold the poses a little longer than perhaps is customary... accentuate the exhaled breath by counting twice as long as the inhalation... use affirmations for calmness, relaxation and safety.

Valerie Wint
Toronto, Canada

You might try having the person lie on their back, knees bent as per Bridge pose, arms along their sides. On an inhale they press the small of the back into the floor, tipping the tailbone slight up (pelvic tilt). On an exhale they let the tailbone touch as the small of the back GENTLY arches away from the floor.

This is like doing cat stretch with the floor for support, and it gently stretches and strengthens both the lower back muscles and the abdominals. I have some lower back issues myself, and have found this works for me.

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