So what are the benefits of practicing backbends? Here are some of the major reasons to incorporate backbends into your practice.
- Improves posture
We don’t even realize how rounded over we’ve become until we bring attention to our fundamental spinal alignment. As a result, we start to stand taller and improve our posture. There is a blue print to the best way the body should be aligned, stacking shoulders over hips, over ankles from top to bottom, and bottom to top. What pose helps? Savasana first and foremost to get a base line. Then practice bridge with or without a block under your sacrum to support longer time spent in the pose.
- Increase mobility of spine
We spend the majority of our day bending forward in one way or another – sitting, driving, texting, picking things up, even sleeping. Statistically they say up to 80% is rounded over. But our spines are meant to be mobile. They move in 6 directions: flexion, extension, lateral flexion (right and left), rotation (right and left). By practicing backbends, we can improve flexibility and balance the mobility of the spine. From bridge take an easy supine twist then turn over to your belly and practice belly down backbends like low cobra or locust variations. And every day do some cat/cow too.
- Relieve Shoulder Pain
During the day we all start to slowly slump forward at our desks and our shoulders round forward. Backbends stretch the front of your chest and help you to draw your shoulders back and shoulder blades together, counteracting the shoulder slump.
- Natural mood elevator and energizer
The action of opening your heart and stretching the whole front line of the body stimulates the nervous system, waking you up and improving your mood. It can be invigorating and that boost of energy can help to alleviate stress.
Why and How do Backbends Work?
There are three sections of the spine
Lumbar – Thoracic – Cervical
Be careful: The lumbar and cervical spine are the most mobile while the thoracic spine is the least mobile. In a backbanding practice, we need to stabilize both the lumbar and cervical region in order to mobilize the upper back.
How to prepare:
- Move your spine in all 6 different directions.
- Do belly down backbends for the front of your shoulders and to stretch the front of your chest. Practice sphinx, locust with yoga mudra, low cobra pushups.
- Don’t forget to open your quads and psoas. Backbends require strong and open quads and psoas.