Health & Wellness

Backbends: An Energizing Yoga Practice

Hello! Happy Saturday!

As you may or may not know, I’m super into yoga (oh and I’m also a certified instructor, but it’s nbd). So I thought it would be nice if, every now and then I offered up some simple tips and classes.

The poses I’m going to share with you today are really great if you’re feeling low energy, tired or lazy. These postures are best to be practiced in the morning (between 6 am & 10 am). This class is backbend focused, but if you’re feeling anxious, irritable, or scattered, I would avoid doing too much (or any!) backbending.

I like to practice backbeds when it’s rainy outside, when I’m struggling to get going in the morning, or when I need a burst of energy for something. Too many backbends, and I find that I get a little cranky. I would encourage you to notice how practicing excessive backbends makes you feel, and determine whether or not they’re a constructive part of your practice.

Okay, okay, enough yammering. Here we go:

This side stretch is a good place to start. (Be sure to do both sides!)

SideStretch

Follow up with some cat and cow stretches. These stretches are great for warming up the spine and prepping the body for backbends. Try to focus on really drawing the belly button in and up (hugging it in toward the spine) when you round the back.

CatCow

Then After a few rounds of cat and cow, move into downward facing dog. Curl the toes under from hands and knees, then shift the hips up and back. Try to make the spine straight. Don’t be afraid to bend the knees a little if needed. Get comfortable with this pose, we’re going to use it a lot!

Downdog

Next, transition into a sun salutation. Walk the feet up to the hands for a forward fold. Then inhale lift up half way (hands on shins, lengthen the spine and flatten the back), then exhale to fold again before inhaling to rise all the way up to standing. Exhales take your hands to heart center. do a few rounds of this to continue warming up the body.

Sun Salutation A

From your standing positions, bend the knees and sink the seat down for chair pose. Arms can reach up or you can cactus them so that your hands are lines up with your ears. Hold for a couple breaths, then fold forward.

Chair

Return to downward facing dog.

Downdog

From Downward Dog, bring the right foot forward to set up for low lunge. Stabilize through the lower half of your body by squeezing the legs in toward one another. Then inhale to reach the arms up toward the ceiling.

LowLunge

Then Lower the hands to frame the foot. Take the left hand and rest it next to the inside of the right foot, and twist toward the right leg, reaching the right arm up toward the ceiling.

LowLungeTwist

Hold the twist for a couple of breaths, then return to downward facing dog and do the other side (left foot forward for low lunge, etc)

Downdog

From down dog, shift forward to plank and hold for a few breaths.

Plank

Then lower all the way down to your belly, rest the hands alongside your chest, hug the elbows in and use your back muscles to lift the chest forward. Cobra pose!

Cobra

Back to down dog

Downdog

Walk the feet to the hands, into a forward fold, and then sun salutation to come to standing.

Sun Salutation A

Step the right foot back (about the distance of one of your own legs). Keeping the feet about hip with apart, planting the right foot down with a 45 degree angle (pointing to the top right hand corner of your mat). Bend the front knee over the ankle, and reach the arms up. Warrior I! Hold your warrior I for a couple of breaths, focus on the belly button drawing in toward the spine, then do the other side.

WarriorI

Return to standing, place the fists on the sacrum (flat boney part of the back below the lumbar curve, but above the glutes), then inhale and begin to lift the chest up, up, up until you find yourself in a slight back bend.

BAckbend

After a few breaths, return to standing, and then make your way back to downward dog.

Downdog

Lower your knees, and come to standing on the knees. Then again take your fists to your sacrum, hug the belly button in toward the spine, and start lifting the chest to for a back bend. Stay there if you’d like, or continue lifting the chest to bend back further, and reach the hands down for the ankles. This is camel pose.

Camel

Hang out here and just breath. Slowly come back up when you’re ready, and then gently twist back and forth to release the low back.

TwistingAction

And finally, come into one more downward facing dog to neutralize the spine before resting the hips down for child’s pose.

Downdog

ChildsPose

After a short rest in child’s pose, be sure to give yourself a minimum of two minutes in corpse pose (laying flat on the mat) to let the benefits of the practice sink in. And that’s it!

I hope you found this helpful. If you’d like to see more posts like this, please ‘like’ this post or leave me a comment down below! Happy backbending!

2 thoughts on “Backbends: An Energizing Yoga Practice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s