Like the family of poses called inversions, back bending poses can elicit a love-hate relationship with yoga practitioners. This fact sparked a post I wrote a while back called “Befriending Backbends”.
My intention for the sequence I’m going to teach tomorrow is to introduce a little anatomy, do some warm-ups that include passive backbends, followed by the more classic backbends.
Here’s a few basic points for the “simple backbends” you do lying in the prone position:
- Make sure you use your deep neck flexors to lift your head.
- Hollow your abdomen as you lift up, but keep your bottom ribs on the floor.
- Squeeze your thighs lightly.
- Keep your buttocks firm but not clenched.
- Use your mid-back muscles to strengthen your shoulder blades.
- Keep your shoulder blades down toward your waist.
- Move your groins away from your kidneys and your kidneys toward your head.
- Most of all, don’t be pushy.
Lying down, block pose
Lying down, urdhva hastasana
Standing, urdhva hastasana
Adho mukha svanasana
Preparation for Pincha Mayurasana
Here’s a home practice question which comes from a yoga teacher:
Would you suggest to plan my daily practice ahead and/or keeping a practice journal? I seem to resist that because I believe I then would tend to mentally hold onto thoughts which were just arising for the moment/the day… and that might distance me from what I really need to see/feel in the given moment. But then, on the other side I am afraid to possibly stagnate with certain asanas, meditation and my pranayama exercises (which probably repeat themself if I won’t review them).
From Eve: What I like to do is think about what I want to teach over a week period. I write it up as a lesson plan, sort of like the above sequence, just broad brush strokes. Then, this will be my practice for each day, and as I do it myself, on repetition it becomes something I can teach “out of my bones”. I tweak the plan according to the level I’m teaching and to the “mood” of each class.
Recently I thought I might need some fresh input because there is always that possibility of stagnation, so I picked up BKS Iyengar’s Light On Yoga. The appendix has more programs than one would be able to do in several years.