Yoga and your Spine
The large muscles and strong bones in our bodies protect sensitive nerves while flexible tendons and ligaments allow our spine to move in all different ways, making our spine an incredible combination of flexibility and strength. Regular yoga back bending sequences can help increase mobility and strengthen the supporting muscles around the skeleton.
Yoga Backbend Sequence
Backbends offer some fundamental principles and techniques that play a strong role in strengthening the core. Yoga backbend poses are divided into three broad categories:
- Traction: Where the body is bending with gravity and the muscles in the front of the body are active, helping to control the rate of movement and range. Poses include camel pose or dropping back to wheel pose.
- Leverage: Where the strength of your legs or arms is used to deepen the backbend. Poses such as Bow or Cobra contributed to leverage.
- Contraction: Where the muscles in the back contract to overcome gravity. Poses you can relate to are the ones where you lie prostrate such as Locust.
Backbend Yoga Poses
Prior to engaging into yoga backbend poses you must begin a warm up routine. It is very important to properly warm up before you start backbends as it will lower the chance of injury and offer greater balance.
Warm up poses for backbends:
Cat Cow variations and Sun salutations: These poses will enable your muscles and prepare your spine to go easy through the Cobra pose or Upward Facing Dog pose.
Backbends benefit from open and relaxed hips to surrounding muscles including the thighs and the psoas. Lunge or reclined hero pose are also considered worthy for the thigh.
Role of Glutes in Backbend
Many people have questions whether or not buttock muscles must be relaxed or active when doing a backbend pose. Well it’s almost impossible for the glutes to stay relaxed, anything that you do in that backbend connects the whole area of your spine and its surrounding muscles. When you are doing the bridge pose create an action of drawing the heels towards you with feet intact. This burns muscles of your legs hamstrings and lower glutes offering a nice challenging warm-up.
Physical Benefits of Yoga Backbend
- Stretches and opens up shoulders and chest where we hold tension.
- Stretches hip flexors.
- Strengthens legs, arms and particularly back muscles.
- Improves posture by increasing mobility of the spine.
- Alleviates back and neck pain.
Backbends open our upper body and chest stimulating the heart chakra allowing us to open even fuller to our lives, experiences, relationships and most of all emotions.
When we are in danger our body’s usual response is to curl in, this means protecting our most vulnerable spot/part, that is, the heart. Backbends are the very opposite, they signify exposing oneself to the world which takes courage. Overcoming our fears on the mat can give us courage off the mat too. Doing a backbend for the first time can perplex and overwhelm you due to the alignment and complex positioning but this very action also infuses courage to attempt the backbend.
The Backbend Bench Equipment
Yoga backbend bench is a beautiful crafted bench which facilitates a huge variety of stretches and poses. It has the following physiological benefits:
- Stretches chest and shoulder muscles.
- Stretches pelvic and abdominal muscles and organs.
- Relives stress, depression and hypertension.
- Counteracts humpback.
The yoga backbend bench provides a unique combination of back-muscle stretch and spinal traction.
Backbends help in improving posture and boosting confidence. Do it safely and mindfully to enjoy its amazing benefits.
Backbends are invigorating and strengthening. They stretch the hip flexors and help open up the shoulders and chest, an area where lots of us hold tension. They build strength and power in the legs, arms and back muscles. By increasing mobility and awareness of the spine backbends improve posture and can help to alleviate some kinds of back and neck pain.
Psychological / energetic benefits
As backbends open the chest and upper body they stimulate the Heart chakra (Anahata) allowing us to open more fully in our lives too; to our emotions, experiences and in our relationships.
Strong backbends can sometimes release stored emotions: frustration, fear, anger, sadness as well as joy and love, so it’s not unusual to feel some of this again as it works through your body. I’ve felt irritated after a backbend class but I’ve also finished a practice with a real sense of love and compassion. Either way, for me I would rather have these emotions released!
So go safely and mindfully with your practice and enjoy the benefits of this release. Practice with softness & stay with the breath.