The Yoga Poses that are the Most Dangerous for Your Spine + Tips to Stay Safe

5 min read

Many of us practice yoga to stretch out our backs and make sure we’re pain and tension-free—and yoga is a great way to do this. It can keep your back healthy, happy, and as bendy as possible. However, it can be very easy to injure your back if you’re practicing poses incorrectly or holding poses with poor form.

You can read our quick tips on how to avoid back pain by avoiding the three types of poses that are the hardest on your spine.

Folds that face forward

In any forward fold pose (such as standing or sitting forward fold), the most common error is rounding your spine excessively, causing you to collapse at the front. It’s usually because we want to reach deeper towards our toes, and rounding the spine is the easiest way to achieve that.

Too much rounding, however, can lead to muscle strain or, in severe cases, a ruptured disk or ligament. When you round your back, the benefits of the pose are not felt in other parts of your body, such as the hamstrings. Follow these steps to correct your spinal alignment.

Tilt your pelvis and not your spine. Sit tall with your spine, like you are trying to lift the crown of your skull to the ceiling. Pull away the fleshy part of the glutes to reveal the sit bones, and then press your tailbone into the floor. Here, the crown of your skull should be in direct line with your tailbone.

Start by bringing your chest towards your thighs while keeping your spine straight. No curving! Your trunk will begin to move like a lever arm. This is the desired result! As your forehead moves closer to your legs, your tailbone will start to move backward away from the crown of the head.

As far as you can, bring your chest down to your legs while keeping your straight spine and flat back. Stop when you reach the point at which you cannot descend further without bending.

Keep the chest open. Pull your shoulder blades down your spine and pull your collarbone forward toward your toes instead of letting them pull to one side.


Backbends are the most dangerous and common pose that can cause spinal injuries. Backbends are flexions of the spine.

The poses can be uplifting, as they bring energy to the body. They also open up the throat and chest. The flexed curve of the spine can cause pinched nerves or vertebrae, muscle spasms, and back pain or twinging.

Do the following to prevent pain from creeping up into your backbends:

Your movement should begin in the pelvis. As we have discussed in forward folds, you should move from your sacrum. We want to move the center of the pelvis forward, not your tailbone when we do a backbend.

Pull the pelvic flooring up to the belly button. This will ensure that our pelvis is not sent out without the proper support of our core. This will help us engage our core muscles, particularly our transverse abs or the two large strips of muscle that run along each side of our abdomen. As you begin to back bend, move your core forward along with your pelvis.

Continue to lift your chest as you send your pelvis forward. Continue to lift your chest even as your spine curves back. You’ll ensure that there is still space between your vertebrae as you bend forward, reducing the likelihood of pinching.


The spinal twists are gentle poses that are designed to relax and stretch your spine. However, there are a few important things to remember to make the most of them.

Maintain a straight spine during the entire twist. It can be tempting to bend the spine because these poses are relaxing. It’s vital to keep your spine straight in order to avoid injury and ensure you are squeezing it beneficially. Draw your spine straight and tall in a seated twist. This is similar to a forward folding. Twist to one side, keeping your spine straight.

Maintain your shoulders down and back away from your ears. This is an indication that your spine is straight. You can also use a reflection to see if the crown of the head is above your tailbone.

The spine must be flat and straight in poses that include both forward folding as well as twisting.

Can be helpful to check your hips. make certain your pelvis balanced. It means that the hipbones should be in the same plane and not in front or above each other. This allows our spine to be in a balanced position for any twisting or forward folding and reduces the risk of pulling muscles or ligaments.

BONUS: Be mindful of your neck.

We may look in any yoga pose to see what we are doing or what our instructor, the other students, or ourselves are doing. This can cause tension in the neck.

We risk damaging our cervical vertebrae if we look upwards or move our head in any other way than in alignment with our spine. It can be tempting, especially in backbends, to look up to try to deepen the pose. But this is not a good habit. The best way to protect your neck in these poses is always to keep the head aligned with the rest.

The back-intensive yoga poses are some of the most rewarding poses, both physically as well as emotionally. When performed incorrectly or in an unsafe manner, however, these poses can cause pain and discomfort.

Discuss in the comments if you have any tricks or tips that you use to make poses involving your spine more comfortable. Happy bending!

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