The Monday after a holiday always seems to leave me feeling a little extra lethargic. Whether it is too much sitting or eating things I normally wouldn’t, I feel like I need a coffee IV and I could still easily take a nap.
This week for our moment of calm, we are going to look at back bending. Working with backbends is sort of like an espresso shot for your spine - - it really wakes you up. A lot of yoga practitioners also say that if you are only able to practice one or two poses, a good backbend should be one of them!
When you think about backbends, do you have an initial response of overwhelm? I get it. A few years ago, I noticed myself skipping over backbends while teaching because they were overwhelming me (an able-bodied, fairly flexible yoga teacher). You don’t have to do the biggest, most challenging backbend for it to be effective. Sometimes less is more, and a little shift in awareness and perspective can go a long way!
Looking back a couple weeks ago when we practiced sun salutations – Cobra and Upward-Facing Dog are both excellent backbends. This is where yoga gets so interesting. Both of those poses are so easy to auto pilot through; but, with a little awareness, you have a perfect way to invigorate your spine!
Support: we talk a fair amount about support in this community. Well, support is extra important here. With any backbend, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your core. Engaging your belly will help support your low back. Backbends are never meant to move your lumbar (low back) spine, they are designed to open your thoracic (upper-mid back) spine (think between your shoulder blades). This is an area that seems to be chronically tight for most people, especially if you sit a lot or spend a good amount of time on a computer.
From a physical standpoint, when you do a backbend, you are tapping into the circulatory system, thereby increasing blood flow throughout the body. This increase in circulation helps us achieve that espresso shot feeling. Backbends are also a great way to stretch the front side of your body (think hips, abdominals, etc.) and open your heart, literally and figuratively! Where last week we worked with grounding, working with backbends helps to create a sense of freedom and openness. You don’t have to do a bridge or wheel to experience these things, simply just standing in your supported stance, reaching your arms up overhead, and extending your upper body back is a backbend as well. Now that is something you can totally incorporate into your day!
Please feel free to engage with us on social media if you have any questions or need clarity. Here at SHEFIT, we are here to support you so you can find and create ways to support yourself.