Bending back and opening the chest also unlocks the spirit within. Practicing these postures takes you along previously untravelled paths, challenging you to overcome fear and frustration, teaching you to move with ease and grace and to live with an open heart and a passion for life and love.
(J Chapmen, Yoga for Inner Strength, p164).
In back bends I bring my awareness to the heart and open it as wide as I can, eager to send and receive what may come. I welcome back bends with an open mind and embrace the wonderful stretch through the front of my body; hips, abdomen, thighs, shoulders and chest, which from sitting at a computer all day is compresses. While all that stretching is taking place the legs, buttocks and spine are required to counter gravity, bringing energy, warmth and strength. After a back bend concentrated practice I tend to feel energized and refreshed.
Back bends stimulate the nervous system and metabolism. The abdominal organs are squeezed helping with digestion and giving yourself a mini detox.
If you have little experienced a back bends, do come into them slowly and gently. They can feel awkward or bring a fearful feeling because you are moving the spine in a direction it isn’t used to going, as well the heart is exposed which may be uncomfortable for some.
Use the breath to help bring calmness to your back bends, inhaling to lengthen the lower back and open the chest, exhale to soften, releasing deeper into the posture. Bring balance in the body by following a back bend with a forward fold.
Some great beginner back bends are: Bitilasana (Cow pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Little bridge pose) and Supta Badda Konasana (Heartbed)
Other back bends: Urdha Mukha Svanasana (Upward facing dog pose), Natarajasana (Dancer), Ustrasana (Camel pose), Urdva Dhanurasana (Wheel pose)