Base, Solar Plexus Centre, Heart Centre, Throat Centre, Third Eye, Crown Centre
Back Pain, Confidence Building, Poor Posture
Start in Mountain. Place palms on low back, fingers point down. Squeeze thighs and buttocks. Press hips forward and arch torso back. Gaze forward. Use arms to support weight. Keep legs and buttocks engaged. To release keep legs, buttocks and arms strong.
Stretches sides of torso, spine. Stimulates abs.
Drop head back.
Back or neck injury.
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Let your students become aware of the benefits of backends...
If you work a job where you are sitting most of the time, it is likely that your posture is hunched (unless you are aware of your posture and correct it). People also hunch when they are looking at their cell phone – next time you go out, watch someone as they text or play on their phone. Their shoulders will often be hunched, and their neck protruded forward. Backbends help counteract the damage of bad posture by bending the spine in a direction it isn’t used to. They help to realign our vertebrae while at the same time stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. They open the chest, lengthen the spine, and strengthen the upper back, all of which make our posture more straight.
Backbends are great for helping open shoulders - an area where most of us hold tension. Most people have shoulders that are rolled in, and a head that is cranked forward – this makes our breathing shallow and lungs compressed, making us feel less than optimal. Practicing backbends will crack open this area, and subconsciously encourage rolled back shoulders.
Hip Flexor Stretch
The hip flexors are the muscles that allow us to lift our knees and bend at the waist. They’re found deep in the abdominal cavity, and cause pain for many individuals (especially if you are a runner or bicyclist). The pain is often felt in the upper groin region where the thigh meets the pelvis. Backbends are great hip flexor openers, as they extend the hips and give these muscles a chance to stretch. Be careful, however, as tight hip flexors can make backbends a little difficult, and may require other hip-opening exercises beforehand to get the really deep hip stretch that backbends will give.
Chronic back pain, which can be restored through backbends, has been linked to the lowering of grey matter in the brain. Take your brain to the spa with a backbend.
You can easily gain spinal strength with the help of backbends. I’ve been practicing for almost two years and I’ve noticed a huge difference in how much stronger my back is. Backbends require lifting the body against the force of gravity, which helps build strength. Camel Pose, King Pigeon Pose, and Upward Facing Dog Pose are all backbends and fabulous spine-strengtheners.
Back Pain Buster
If your back hurts practice gentle backbends. Our back is often in a state of chronic pain because we spend so much time bending forward, and not backward. When we start practicing backbends, we counteract the impact of continuous forward bending and ease the stress on parts of the spine that are often stuck in the chronic forward-position. This will also help you stand straighter, which again, is another reason so many people experience back pain.
Heart Chakra Awakener
Backbending opens up the chest (heart space), which is connected to our sense of wellbeing and connection with others. Many people often get emotional when they do a deep backbend (like Camel Pose, King Pigeon Pose, or Upward Facing Dog Pose). Whether you’re flexible or not, when first learning how to bend your back, you may experience a tsunami of different emotions. One of the deepest lessons in yoga practice is about bringing the energy up the spine and cleansing the nervous system. Backbends thrust your full life force up through this central channel and burn through blockages along the way. When one of these blockages gets triggered it really does not matter whether you are doing a deep backbend or a beginner backbend, because the emotional state that gets triggered is really of paramount importance. Don’t run away when things get tough and emotional – backbends are an amazing thing you can do for your body and will make you a stronger individual both mentally and physically. Remember to breathe through it.
Backbends help open the shoulders and chest, getting rid of the tension that cramps our lungs and makes breathing shallow and un-easy. Once our chest starts to open, there is more space created for our lungs, allowing for deeper breathing and thus more oxygen flow through the body (this translates to better mental and cardiovascular function).
Backbending is a great way to give yourself a boost of energy. If you’ve ever done a backbend, then you’ve felt that rush of energy that invigorates the whole body. Your breath feels deeper and your sense of awareness sharpens. Backbending helps stimulate all chakras in the body and clears energetic blocks that make way for a huge boost of energy – not only that, but they increase our breathing ability, and breathing is key to truly embrace the life force that makes us feel alive.
Many people are fearful of backbends, especially deep ones like Camel Pose, King Pigeon Pose, and Upward Facing Dog Pose that make us move outside of our comfort zone. However, once you step out of that zone, you’ll really start to notice a change. Facing our fears and coming face-to-face against our physical edge teaches us to develop patience – especially with back bending when we are forced to form a deep trust with ourselves.