Back bends - yoga & health

Open up to back-bends

January 25, 2017 10:10 am Published by

Backward bending asanas are energising and rejuvenating. They can be very exhilarating, bestow courage and bring lightness to the body and mind.

There is an old adage, ‘you are as young as your spine is flexible’.

Backbends ask us to ‘come out of our shells’ and embrace life. They develop our ability to trust, to adapt to change and see things from different perspectives. So much of life is experienced through the front of the body; we spend our lives, reaching, bending and also too much time hunching forward. Worries are often placed on our shoulders and backs and we carry them around with us. Backbends help us put down these mental loads, that over time become stiffness and inflexibility in our bodies. They offer a new perspective and way of looking at things.

On a physical level backbends tone the abdominal muscles and internal organs. They strengthen and tone the back, neck and shoulder muscles while making the spine flexible and strong. They expand the chest and strengthen the respiratory system. Backbends have a detoxifying effect on the body as liver function is stimulated. This can sometimes result in slight nausea; it is not dangerous and quickly passes. Back bending also has a neurological effect on us, as circulation is increased in the spine more oxygen is fed to the spinal nerves. This energy feeds into the brain, effecting mental alertness and agility.

As with all asanas, in back-bending our foundations need to be strong, rooted and connected, grounded in the earth, so we can extend, elongate, trust and breathe past any limitations and open the heart.

Backbends must be counter-posed with forward bends or twists, to release and relax the spine and back muscles. Twists and forward bends have a calming effect on the mind after the stimulating effect of backbends and help create a balanced practice.

Which asanas do you love the most and which do you avoid? We have keep practicing all the asana groups for physical and emotional balance.


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