Weekly Yoga Practice – Why Do We Need Back Bends?

A couple of weeks ago we worked on  a back bending series, and I was impressed with the results. Out of four classes I taught, I would say that all have made some progress, even the ones who could not do it  all the way due to health constraints. Most people shy away from back-bends, as they expect something like this:


Though a variation of this “Wheel” is not out of your reach, to make a safe progress in back bends, we start slowly, continue gradually and then go wild! ‘

Here are just the HIGHLIGHTS of the back bending series. A short practice is at the bottom of the page.

1. Start Slowly

Here is a photo (Yoga Journal) of Viparita Karani (Leg’s up the wall) with a bolster.(Left)You can use any other support under your pelvis(not too soft). On the right you have a supported Bridge pose.  Stay at least 2-3 minutes in each pose.


2. Progress gradually

Baby Cobra and Bridge pose will keep opening the spine.


 Instead of squishing it:


3. Then Go Wild or Dance Fearlessly:

ImageDancer Pose (left) combines balance and back-bend and shoulder opening. Wild Thing(below) is a fun, confusing and frustrating pose which can bring you a quick “AHA” moment and a big smile! It has less balance issues, but more spatial confusion. It is hard to think left hand/right leg when you are upside down.


Why do we need back -bends?

1. We spend most of our lives in  forward  positions – driving, writing, cooking, cleaning …. Or to think about it differently – just give me one example of a house chore you do  back bending ? The only two that come to my mind are  cleaning a ceiling  room fan or painting a ceiling  and these happen ( full disclosure) once in a couple of years in my household.

2.  Those of us who work in fancy offices with modern equipment, spend at least 70% of our time looking like this:

I have to say that, except for my head not being so much forward, this is a spitting image of myself!

On that happy note, I wish you safe back bending!

Practice 1 

  • Do restorative (Viparita, or Supported Bridge) for as long as it feels good. Your legs will tell you when they had enough.
  • After these lay down with flat back and knees bent.
  • Then lower both knees on one side (twist).
  • Then other side.

Practice 2 

  • A couple of cat/cows(spinal waves)
  • Child Pose
  • Low lunge to open your leg, hipflexors, psoas (both sides)
  • Bridge pose

Follow up if you will 

  • Downward Facing Dog
  • A couple of standing poses
  • Mountain pose ~ and move slowly into Dancer Pose
  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Side Plank both sides
  • Come back to DFD and find your way to Wild Thing
Remember, all roads lead to Rome, and every practice ends in Savasana!


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