Extensions - back bends

Extensions (backbends)

Backbends are named a little deceptively because what we are really doing when back bending is extending ourselves, not bending the spine. Spinal flexibility is pretty much established so there is little room for increasing the range of our spinal column. What back bends come down to in many of the poses are how open our hips and shoulders are and how much we can extend the ribs away from the hips with the support of our core to hold skeletal alignment.

As with many poses in Yoga, it takes practice on other poses to prepare us. We can prepare ourselves for backbends by working on opening our hips and shoulders and strengthening our core. This might seem boring and that is very common in Yoga and in life. Our perseverance and discipline with working on the prepatory poses (boring as it may be sometimes) is what leads us into the more advanced postures. 

Back bending has been likened to having a shot of espresso because it stimulates the adrenals at the back by compressing and squeezing them. We stretch and open up the front of the body and extend the spine which can be very healing for issues in the back. Some people hunch forward when they feel nervous, depressed or anxious as a way of protecting themselves when feeling vulnerable. In this instance, the strong opening of the front body can bring upon various emotional experiences. A child’s pose should be taken at any time if needed.