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Backbends

April 13, 2012

“It’s easier to keep something than it is to get it back.” – Sara Jones

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie

“I am always doing things I can’t do; that’s how I get to do them.” – Pablo Picasso

Back bending may seem scary or impossible at first, but with patience and practice, you may find them extremely enjoyable. Keeping the spine flexible in all four directions (both directions laterally, forward and back) is an important part of maintaining overall health in the body. The spine acts as an important communication channel to the body’s complex nervous system. Backbends create compression of the spine which stimulates the nervous system.

Back pain needs to be treated on an individual bases; meaning, I am NOT claiming that backbends magically cure everything. However, generally speaking they are great preventative medicine and often reduce or eliminate chronic back problems. Common problems are herniated discs and ruptured discs. A herniated disc is caused by unequal pressure on a disc. This happens frequently to people who have more forward bending in life, and lack of relief to the spine in the opposite direction (sitting while working, excessive driving, etc…) Pressure is pushed in one direction more than the other. As a result the cartilaginous ring becomes weakened and pushes just this section of the disc out farther than the rest of the disc. A ruptured disc is sometimes a continuation on from a herniated disc. A ruptured disc is when the cartilaginous ring tears and the fluid nucleus leaks out. The fluid is not synovial fluid and will not reproduce itself. A ruptured disc can cause the space between two vertebrae to become smaller causing bones to compress the nerve root.

While backbends are a compression of the spine, they are also a stretch for the front side of the body. A combination of strengthening and lengthening is an important key to finding balance in the body. Backbends are a great opportunity to stretch the heart, lungs, core muscles, etc…There are many variations of backbends.

Ardha Chandrasana- Half Moon Backbend

–        Start by standing tall with your feet together (toes and heels touching). Create a strong foundation by spreading out all ten toes. Feel even weight distribution across the balls of the feet and evenly on both sides of the heels.

–         When you are ready… Lock out the legs by engaging the quadriceps (so no bend in the knee here) and squeeze the bottom. Make sure to keep calm breaths flowing and then use your breathing to guide you through the asana.

–        As you inhale, bring the arms up over your head. Establish a strong grip with palms together touching and fingers interlaced up to the webbing. Release the index fingers and cross the thumbs.

–        On an exhale, relax the shoulders and let the head drop back on a soft neck. Not surrendering your neck to gravity will limit progression. To work the posture safely, allow a slight bend in the arms temporarily if necessary to soften the neck and shoulders.

–        Relax the throat and look down and back with the eyes. Avoiding the importance of the gaze in this asana will inhibit depth. Looking anywhere but down and back will create neck tension and stop you from beingable to surrender and breathe into this beneficial stretch. Take a moment to become comfortable here.

–        On an inhale, length-in up out of the waist as you lift the chest. Stretch up with the arms and strong grip of the hands, only as far as you can keep the shoulders and neck relaxed. Straighten the arms if available.

–        As you exhale, begin to push the hips strongly forward as you begin to backbend. Bringing weight back into the heels of the feet on entry.

–        If it is available to you, try to keep your arms by the ears as you stretch up, back and down maintaining a strong grip with the hands.

–        Make sure as you enter the posture the backbend begins in the upper spine, then middle spine, eventually including the lower spine.

–        Your hips are the counterweight to your backbend. Keeping the gluts tight, hips arch forward beyond the feet as everything else goes back.

–        Remember to look in the direction you are moving. Try to see the back wall, the floor behind you, maybe even your mat. Breathe into this stretch across the front of the body.

–        To exit the posture safely, move slowly to avoid dizziness. Keep a strong lower body and inhale up to the center, leading with the chest. Head comes up last. Exhale; release the arms down by the sides.

Keep a strong foundation and you will grow the confidence to look back and experience an intense stretch across the front side of the body as you reach back with the arms. Work your edge, but never force anything in the body!

-By Sara Jones

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 22, 2014 11:35 am

    I always spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s content every
    day along with a mug of coffee.

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