Backbends

Backbends

Definition

Backbends can be very intense yoga poses – because we usually are not used to move this way in our day to day lives. In backbends we practice spinal extension and in many cases hip extension. Backbend positions come in various forms – standing, sitting, kneeling, supine, prone, in an inversion and balancing. The depth of the backbend is influenced by the positioning of the arms and shoulders.

Tips & Tricks

  • Be aware that usually our cervical spine as well as lumbar spine are more flexible in back bending than our thoracic spine. Keep this in mind and consciously focus on initiating your backbends from the thoracic spine (“from the heart and chest”) to avoid your neck and lower back from “taking over” and extending too much
  • For most backbends: Keep the pelvic floor active, engage the glutes
  • Move into the backbend with an inhale
  • Backbending requires a good warm up: warm up the spine with twists, but just as important also the hip flexors!

Benefits

  • Posture – backbends stabilize our center, open our chest and are incredibly important to counterbalance how most of us are during the day: slightly bent forward looking at screens, phones, working in the garden or the house.
  • Increases both flexibility (front) and stability (back) of our spine
  • The opening of the chest expands our capacity to breathe
  • Psychologically, heart openers can allow ourselves to trust, to let go and to dare to be vulnerable
  • The heart chakra is associated with backbending poses, representing love, compassion, kindness – but also the solar plexus chakra and the throath chakra are stimulated.

Watch-Outs

  • Contraindications: Disc ailments, headache, migrane
  • Careful: No deep backbends after the first trimester of your pregnancy
  • Warm up thoroughly before practicing back bends

Examples

Dancer

Natarajasana

…and half bow, locust, bow pose,…

Camel Pose

Ustrasana

…and standing camel, upward facing dog,…

Full Wheel

Urdhva Dhanurasana

…and bridge pose, wild thing, fish pose,…

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