When I teach private yoga lessons, I can’t emphasize enough how important backbends are to our bodies.
In our western culture, we tend to hunch over all the time while sitting and being on our devices. The ribcage gets compressed in this position which compromises our breath. Our shoulders get rounded, head gets pushed forward which leads to soreness in the upper traps and neck. Our chest muscles tighten up, and our back muscles become week. When sitting for a prolonged period of time, our hip flexors and lower back become stiff, too. These are just a few examples of how sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to our bodies.
Backbends are essentially countering the aforementioned effects: they stretch the front of the body and strengthen the posterior body. They facilitate the opening of the ribcage and thus allow for my air into the diaphragm. I personally love backbends for their energizing and exhilarating properties.
There are many ways to perform backbends. The simplest one is to lay down on the floor and place a rolled up towel or blanket under your shoulder blades. You could also lean over the edge of the couch/ backrest of chair and get the same effect- just make sure your shoulder blades are right over that edge. Drop your arms over head and breathe deeply. Take minimum of 5 to 10 breaths.
A more active backbend would be a bow pose, for instance. Lay on your belly, bend your knees and grab your ankles with your hands facing in. Arch your spine and lift your upper body up as you kick your feet into your hands. Breathe for 5-10 breaths, then relax and take a child’s pose as a counter stretch.
Here’s an example of a bow pose performed in Acro Yoga way: