Backbend yoga poses can be performed lying on the abdomen, lying on the back, as well as standing, sitting and on all fours.
Benefits of backbends in yoga
The most obvious effect of backbends is the increase of spinal mobility and flexibility, especially in the lumbar and chest area.
In addition, backward bending also stretch the rectus abdominis and the iliopsoas muscle. It helps to eliminate clamps in these areas, which happen very often.
Power bending yoga asanas (such as shalabhasana) strengthen deep back muscles. They help to eliminate back pain and improve posture.
Soft backbends aimed to stretch the spine, can significantly improve the situation with herniated intervertebral discs. They help to reduce their size and minimize the symptoms.
Backbends also stretch the chest muscles and chest itself deepening breathing and improving lung function.
Equally important are the effects of these postures on the internal organs. In backbend yoga asanas the intestines are stretched, which has a beneficial effect on peristalsis. The kidneys and adrenal glands are stimulated by squeezing the muscles in this area. It improves the blood flow and innervation, thereby improving diuretic and hormonal function of the adrenal glands. It is especially beneficial during menopause and adrenal fatigue. The pressure increases in the entire abdominal cavity. Therefore, the blood supply to the internal organs and the outflow of venous blood improves.
Backbends also stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. In combination with relaxation postures, they balance the autonomic nervous system in case of its dystonia.
Restrictions and safety while performing backbands
The main danger of backbends is injuries of the cervical and lumbar spine. Less serious injuries are more common: spasms and pain in the back muscles, pinched nerves.
Especially dangerous are deep standing backbends (ushtrasana, hasta uttanasana, etc.), since in this case, in addition to the deflection, the spine also experiences a compressive load of gravity. Lying or standing asanas on all fours in this regard are safer, therefore, it is better to start mastering them first.
I it is important not to perform the maximum deflection, it is better to limit it to about 70% of the available amplitude. Do not throw your head back, because the neck is even more fragile and mobile than the waist, and its injuries occur more often. The neck should continue the natural line of the spine.
Practice deep backbends only after warming, pre-stretching the spine. This relieves intervertebral discs compression and reduces the risk of overloading the lower back.
It is also important to tuck the pelvis under and squeeze buttocks in deep bending. It minimizes the risk of the lumbar spine injury.
If the person has hernias or protrusions in the neck or lower back, scoliosis, osteoporosis, as well as during pregnancy, the practice should be especially careful, limited to soft, gentle deflections, observing safety precautions and avoiding pain in the lower back and neck.
After performing deep backward bending, you must perform a soft compensating forward bend to avoid overloading the waist. Most often, balasana is used as this compensation.
Technique and ways to simplify deflection
Backward bending asanas can be made with power (for example, shalabhasana) or aimed at stretching (for example, bhujangasana).
In power backbends, as a rule, the amplitude is small, but the back muscles and buttocks are actively working. If the muscles are weak, start mastering simple power backbend (ardha shalabhasana).
Practice these postures slowly, raising the body vertebra by vertebra. Only like that you will involve deep back muscles.
It is also important to squeeze the shoulder blades and pull them down. It will engage the interscapular and trapezius muscles – they are weak in most cases, which leads to a slouch, as well as overload and spasms of the neck muscles.
Backbends, aimed at stretching, require less muscular work, but are performed with a deep amplitude. If your spine is not very flexible, start with gentle bending, for example, ardha bhujangasana, and gradually move to deeper and more difficult asanas.
In these asanas it is important to avoid maximum bending and back pain. Move the shoulder joints back and down, relax the neck. Don’t throw your head back. Try to ensure that the entire spine from the tailbone to the back of the head is one smooth line, without “creases” in the neck and lower back.