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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Backbends: It’s not really about the back.

So if backbends aren’t really about the back, what are they about?

The heart center.

“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” - Buddha

Think about how much time you spend closing off the heart center in any given day: driving to work in the morning your shoulders are hunched and your back is rounded. Sitting at a desk and typing on the computer, same thing. Eating your cereal, watching TV, talking on the phone.. the list goes on and on and so do the negative effects! From discomfort in the cervical spine and shoulders all the way down to your sacrum, the back suffers when we close the heart center. And that’s just on a physical level! Imagine what it does to you emotionally!

Backbends are meant for opening. Awakening. Energizing. Creating space. Unlocking the spirit within you. The physical benefits are endless, from stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and counteracting bad posture to realigning the spine and help with digestion and kidney function. Emotionally speaking, back bends help to relieve stress and anxiety, build confidence, and reduce fear.

Why, then, do I feel so much discomfort when I am back bending?

Ah, good question. For many of us, when we back bend, we are, again, focusing on the wrong part of the body. Lets stop calling these poses backbends and call them what they really are; heart openers.

When you come into a heart opener the focus should be the front part of the body. Instead of bending the back, open the heart center. Instead of dropping the head back, focus on a long neck. Allow the front part of the hips and thighs to find length and a bit of stretch.

Here are a few links I have found with important information on backbending. Take a moment to check them out!

  • I LOVE this list of tips complied on OM Gal’s blog.
  • Are you a butt squeezer? You heard me! When you come into bridge pose or any other back bend, do you squeeze your butt muscles for support? That’s a no-no! Read why, here!
  • Lastly, check out my blog post about backbends, er…heart openers I mean!.. where I offer some tips for two challenging asanas!

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