Yoga lifestyle

Yoga, Back Bends, & Anxiety, Oh My!

Who doesn’t love a good yoga practice with a deep satisfying back bend?


If I’m being honest, I’m actually terrified of exploring back bends in my yoga practice, and often times when I do, I find myself completely removed from my body in the moment. Why? Because if not practiced properly, backbends can be aggravating to anxiety. Hell, even if you do practice them properly, you still might find yourself spiraling through an anxious melt down 2 hours later.

Back bending challenges the breath, and for many practitioners (myself included) getting into a deep backbend can be scary. I don’t like it when my breath is being challenged while at the same time my body is contorted into a difficult pose. So how do I deal with it?

I disassociate.

To be clear, that’s not what I’m supposed to do. That’s not what anyone is supposed to do. Yoga is meant to help us keep the mind focused on the body as we work toward finding stillness in the mind. So, needless to say, my back bending game is not on point. It’s something I personally need to work on in my practice.

There’s another layer of challenge that comes with it though. Back bends don’t just cause anxiety in the moment. They can actually cause post practice anxiety or irritation. Typically, I experience irritability, anxiety, frustration, or anger accompanied by a strong desire to eat everything I see, anywhere from a few minutes after a deep back bending practice, to several hours later. In fact, even just talking about my relationship with back bends makes me want to head for the freezer to binge on my supply of raspberry Sherbet.

Not everyone is affected by back bends in this way though, so if this doesn’t sound like you, that’s totally cool. Your experience with backbends depends largely on how balanced you are, how flexible you are, whether or not you struggle with anxiety, and how tactful you are in your practice. Your Ayurvedic constitution also plays a role in how you are affected by back bends, but I won’t get into that now.

For now, I’m going to head for the freezer and pretend like I’m normal.

Anyone else have similar experiences associated with back bends? Talk to me about it in the comments below!

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