Like the family of poses called inversions, back bending poses can elicit a love-hate relationship with yoga practitioners.
Symmetry in action, Urdhva Dhanurasana is a challenging pose for most yogis. If we could only get the backbend arc to be even from the top of the spine to the tip, then the experience would be pleasurable and gratifying. Anything less, we feel heavy, pinched and sometimes defeated. Like many adults, by the time I came to do yoga, it had been many years since I’d done backbends. The first ones I attempted in a yoga class made me feel exhilarated. My teacher was a hard task master. We students did 25 Urdhva Dhanurasanas, followed by 10 “easies”. […]
Salamba Sarvangasana takes tenacity
The translated meaning of Salamba Sarvangasana is “whole body pose”. It is often prefaced by Salamba, meaning supported. Your hands support your spine. Your upper arms and shoulders form the bedrock of the pose.
For many years I couldn’t grasp how to get my whole body involved in shoulderstand. The ideal shape of the pose appeared like a shimmering but distant mirage to me. I would struggle to get upright. The effort exhausted me. My kidneys would start to ache. […]
A number of years ago, I ran a series of workshops by the above title. So many people have a love-hate relationship with backbends that I thought it good to teach some anatomy, practice simple backbends first and then work up to more advanced back arches over several sessions.
Ironically, while developing the workshop and doing lots of backbends prior to it, I made my back sore. […]
Backbends that strengthen the back can be useful when introduced slowly and methodically
A yoga teacher trainee whom I was working with asked a smart question: What should I practice when?
If you do the same sequence of poses every single day, as in Astanga Vinyasa Yoga, it’s not a problem. However, what do you do if your practices are more flexible?
Well, it depends on quite a lot of factors – season, age, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause (male or female), time of day, day of the week, etc.
To help my trainee, I sat down and worked out the attached scheme. […]