Backward bends are about vigor, vitality, and active opening.
Backward bends can play a significant role in correcting the habitual slumped, closed-chest posture. . However these poses are used primarily to:
Open the breathing.
Promote vitality and alertness.
Increase the flow of energy in the spine, and one's awareness of that flow.
Lift the spinal energies toward the brain.
Alignment and Technique
The primary alignment focus for backward bends is the spine. As you bend backward, it's important to distribute the backward bend throughout the spine. If you simply allow the spine to bend wherever it's easiest, you'll tend to get too much backward bend in the lumbar spine and neckand not enough in the thoracic spine. This can overly compress the spinal discs or pinch the spinal nerves.
To protect your lumbar spine, always tuck the pelvis before you enter a backward bend, and keep it tucked throughout the pose. Those with a tendency toward swayback should maintain some firmness in the lower abdomen to help keep the pelvis tucked.
To protect your neck, don't "jackknife" it in backward bends, don't allow it
to bend backward sharply. Keep the back of your neck long. Come into the pose on an inhalation, as inhalations tend to lengthen the spine. While holding the pose, use each inhalation to lengthen your spine, and on each exhalation relax into that length.
Approach the pose in stages. Use the breath: inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale and release forward (keeping the spine lengthened).
In the surrender stage, focus on relaxation and release, breathing naturally.
Cautions for Backward Bends
High blood pressure or any cardiovascular problem.
© 1997-2002 Ananda Church of Self-Realization