There are many benefits derived from back bending. They open the front body, strengthen the back body, extend the spine, and energize the spirit. Of course, like most poses, some people love ‘em and some don’t.
We’re spending the month of July practicing a wide range of backbends. Some backbends such as locust and cobra are great for development of back strength. Warrior I, pigeon and dancer lengthen the front body – especially the hip flexors. Upward bow has the added challenge of arms overhead and pushing up against gravity. In passive backbends such as supported bridge and reclining cobbler, gravity assists by opening the heart center and relaxing the mind.
Like all of our yoga, it’s important to approach back bending from an honest and personal perspective, and not from a place of striving or comparison. Done well, backbends can strengthen the spine and improve posture and breathing. Done poorly, they can exacerbate back pain and sacroiliac joint instability.
My intention for teaching backbends is for students to find their level of comfort in spinal extension and practice in a way that enhances their understanding and experience of back bending. Through personal practice and study it is my hope that students will learn best practices and find the freedom and strength that comes from this family of poses.