One Way to Reverse Slumpiness
Quick … check your posture. What do you notice? Is your spine tall, chest open and shoulders relaxed? Or, is your spine slumping, collapsing your chest and rounding your shoulders?
Most of us spend a lot of time hunched over our computers, mobile devices, reading materials, etc. It is easy to see how modern day life can take a toll on our spine and, therefore, our posture and mobility.
One of the 5 Elements of Total Wellbeing is to stay physically active, to keep moving. We have been exploring how Viniyoga, with its emphasis on moving the spine, can help us stay physically active and mobile, So far, we have looked at the benefits of forward bends and twists. This week, we will experience the benefits of backbends.
Backbends are expansive meaning they are more energizing than a forward bend or twist. Backbends open and lengthen the front of our bodies.
The primary intention and benefit is to stretch the front of the body. It opens and stretches the chest, shoulders, abdominal area, hip flexors and thighs. They also strengthen the back muscles. Whether the posture is stretching or strengthening depends on the type of backbend. The cobra posture is more strengthening while the bridge posture is more stretching.
Another big benefit of backbend postures is to increase energy. This is especially true when it is combined with specific breathing techniques.
TECHNIQUE: Viniyoga Style
You move into a backbend during inhale and come out during exhale. The key to a successful backbend is to expand the chest on inhale while maintaining a partial abdominal contraction. This technique allows your chest and upper back to expand more.
It is important to counter pose the backbend by doing a forward bend before moving to a twist or lateral bend. Viniyoga emphasizes care of the spine and forward bends bring the spine back to neutral before moving in another direction.
It is okay to begin your yoga practice with a backbend provided it is a gentle one. Deeper backbends are not advised until late in a practice when your body is more fully warmed up.
It is tempting to overarch your neck and/or low back in an attempt to get a deeper backbend. Be careful not to let this happen because it compresses the spine in these areas, which is not healthy.
Backbends will open up your world and help you reverse the slumping that comes with our modern lifestyle. They are key to maintaining good posture as we grow older. And, of course, better posture means more efficient breathing.
Enjoy and breathe easy
Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
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