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Back-Bending Take 1

Why are backbends necessary? Backbends help to stretch the whole front body, including the shoulders and chest. Living in the 21st century, most of us go through the work day hunched over our computers. Even in these bitter cold months, we tend to hunch forward to keep warm when we are outside. Backbends help to fix our posture which in turn allows us to breath deeper since we are creating space in our front body. They also help to strengthen our back, alleviate any back pain, and give us a burst of energy.

Now for my feelings about backbends. I LOATHED backbends. I would cringe when the teacher in class called out Ustrasana (Camel). Majority of the time when cued for bridge pose or upward-facing bow, I calmly took the restorative option. However, I know now how important backbends are and one of my new year's resolutions is to embrace the deep backbends in my practice. If you have taken yoga classes with me, you might recall me saying “The pose you avoid the most, is the one you need the most”. Such an overused statement, but so true!

While reading/practicing/researching about one of my poses (which was Camel Pose) to break down and explain to my fellow yoga teacher trainees, I discovered that back-bending is linked to fear. During my research I came across an article in Yoga Journal. The entire entry is super informative, but the quote that really hit home for me was: “Because back-bending requires such intense mental and physical effort, many of the poses in this category bring up our “stuff” and put it right in our faces. Our inner turmoil and struggle are likely to be on full display and vying for our attention in every backbend we practice.” (You can view the article here.) To me, this made perfect sense to my feelings about backbends. Deep backbends, especially camel, leave one very vulnerable. Your entire throat (and heart) are opened. When we get sad or scared, we turn inward but in order to grow, in order to bloom, we need to allow our hearts to be exposed. Allow our emotions to shine. Let it all go :)


I have been using my wheel nightly to help open up heart, as well as massaging my spine. It feels fabulous and has become a nightly routine for me. I am making small steps into bringing the wheel into my daily yoga routine with my backbends. If I was “selfie savvy” I would have these wonderful progress pictures to so you...but I’m not, so I don’t. Hopefully for the next Yoga Wheel Update I’ll have a picture of my practice :)

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