Ahhh, the sacrum and lumbar spine. This may be the number one area that I hear students talk about when referring to physical discomfort. Mostly, I hear the complaints from mountain bikers that I ride with, but lately, I have been hearing people in almost every area of life talk about this region of their backs. I do suggest yoga for this area of course, but I am highly cautious with students. I do not want students to overstretch their lower back and create even more trouble.
Maryjaryasana/Cat Pose is a most excellent warm up, especially when attached to the famous Bitilasana/Cow pose. My two favorite, which relieve pressure on the lumbar are Downdog and Puppy Pose. An entire list of these poses with examples can be found at here at yoga journal.
Some of the poses that work for me when my lower back is tight and even in pain, which occurs only while I am mountain biking are the twists: Bharadvaja’s Twist, Half Lord of the Fishes and Marichi’s Pose. I highly recommend Supta Padangusthasana/Reclining Hand to Big Toe for lower back and IT Band issues (I also recommend a strap with this series of poses, as outlined here).
An entire sequence for lower back can be found here. The poses are highly recommended to loosen your fascia (Fascia, which means “band” or “bundle” in Latin, surrounds, connects and supports our muscles, organs, bones, tendons, ligaments and other structures of the body. Similar to the membrane around each section of an orange, fascia both separates and connects body parts at the same time. Containing nerves, these tissues also serve as a layer of protection and body awareness.)
A yoga sequence I created for a student to work with the lower back:
Lower Back Sequence.
Recommended hold time is one minute-one minute and 12 seconds. This holding/slower pace is conducive to opening the tight spots. I recommend once a day or every other day for noticeable improvement.
Great reference for specifics on poses in this sequence: http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/anatomy/lower-back/
Cow Pose (these two poses in sequence are a warm up for the back)
Uttkatasana/Chair Pose (for strengthening lower back)
Utthita Trikonasana/Extended Triangle Pose.
Virabhadrasana 2/Warrior 2.
Padangusthasana/Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose.
Bakasana/Crane Pose. (pillow on floor in front of face )
Uttana Shishosana/Extended Puppy Pose.
I find the twists help me most when I am IN pain to alleviate pain in the lower back area, especially due to mountain biking.
Marichi’s Pose/Marichiasana 3.
Ardha Matseyandrasana/Half Lord of the Fishes.
To finish, bring both knees into the chest, squeeze and gently rock from side to side. Finally, come into Savasana/Corpse Pose.
((**I also highly recommend doing abdominal strengthening poses as well to increase strength in back: Navasana/Boat Pose))