Whether you’re a new or advanced yogi, people tend to have a love-hate relationship with backbending because of the strong emotions they can bring up. These feelings arise no matter whether you are flexible or stiff in your spine. If you are unfamiliar with the strength, stamina and flexibility needed for most backbending movements, it can be an emotional roller coaster.
It takes lots of practice and trust in the method before you will feel confident about integrating a full backbend sequence into your daily practice. Knowledge about the anatomy and biomechanics of the body and a clear technique about how to approach the pose is crucial to a healthy and joyful long-term practice of backbends — and can help manage that fear! Be aware that when learning how to safely bend your back, you may experience both rational and irrational emotions.
When I started my yoga journey I was more stiff than flexible, and I really enjoyed backbend classes because of the feelings of freedom and expansion I experienced. I was able to breathe more deeply and freely and was excited about the tickling energy I could feel in my whole body. As I started to practice more advanced backbends, I was suddenly met with experienced emotions like fear, pain, and nervousness. It didn’t feel good in my body, and that initial freedom and expansion morphed into pressure. This happened every time I approached these poses… until I met a teacher that taught me about what was going on anatomically in my body when I am in a backbend, and how I can use clear biomechanical actions to find length and strength in my spine while bending backwards.
On a spiritual level, our yoga practice helps us deal with stored emotions and trauma. This is especially true with backbends, as their strong influence on our nervous system burns through blockages and triggers emotional states. When one of these blockages gets triggered it really does not matter whether you are doing a deep backbend or a beginner backbend. The emotional state that gets triggered is of paramount importance. When things are difficult, scary and emotional, it is hard to stay calm, breathe or think clearly. This is where the guidance of an experienced teacher is crucial. They can help you understand and trust your body, as well as offer you tools to help guide you to a joyful backbend practice.
Susanne is a certified Yoga teacher with more than 1200 hrs experience of qualified Teacher Trainings, Workshops and Intensives in Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga (YOGAMAZÉ, Anusara, Ashtanga). Yoga to her is meditation in motion. Practicing postures moves the mind into an even state and the body into health. A healthy body is the best vehicle for a healthy mind and an uprising spirit.
GingerYoga is Susanne’s strong version of Power Vinyasa Flow. Her classes are strong and knowledgeable, linking breath and movement through an intelligent sequence of sun salutations and postures.
Functional Yoga and Yoga for Athletes is another target focus of Susanne’s yoga classes. Here she combines classical yoga poses with Pilates core moves and functional movement elements to hit target areas like core stability, hip movement and shoulder mobility.
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