September 4, 2020
How to Perform Yoga Backbends by Fitness For Non-Athletes
A woman performs a yoga backbend by a babbling brookSource: Envato Elements
Beginner yoga backbend practiceSource: Beginner Yoga Backbend Practice with Kino | KinoYoga
People have dozens of reasons for practicing yoga. In my case, it was anxiety. It’s proven that yoga has both physical and mental benefits.
Anxiety, though defined as a normal and healthy emotion, can be a mental disorder. When it gets serious, you can start practicing yoga as I did.
Read on to find how — and why — you can use a yoga wheel to perform a yoga backbend in particular.
What is a Yoga Backbend?
If you know what yoga is, have practiced it, or have seen people practice it, most of the poses you see are backbends. Backbends are the main category of yoga poses.
A yoga backbend is a powerful yoga pose that allows you to stretch and strengthen your spine and open the front part of your body.
When doing a backbend, you move your upper body backward. This benefits both your spine and front body muscles.
Types of Backbends in Yoga
This popular yoga category is divided into three types: leverage, contraction, and traction backbends.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with these types as they’re categorized by how you stretch, and which muscles you exercise the most.
Leverage backbends stretch the front part of your body as you grasp or find support from a stable object. The pose, therefore, uses the leverage of this object, such as the floor or wall.
The Cobra Pose
Women perform the cobra pose in a sunny parkSource: Envato Elements
This is a very famous yoga pose also known as the Bhujangasana. The leverage used in this pose is the floor.
To perform this pose, you lie on your stomach and plant your hands directly under your shoulders. You then press your upper body up as far as you can go, with your gaze in front of you.
You can bring your gaze up to the ceiling for more intensity at an advanced level, but ensure that you don’t tighten your buttocks.
You should watch out for any strain or pain in your back and/or wrists, as well. If you feel any discomfort, lower yourself slowly to avoid any injury.
The cobra pose stretches muscles in your back and front body. It also stretches your legs and energizes your spine.
The Bow Pose
Women perform the bow pose in a sunlit parkSource: Envato Elements
This pose resembles that of a bow. It’s also called the Danurasana. You use the strength from your grip, and support from the floor when performing the bow.
To perform it, lie on your stomach and stretch your arms backward. Then, slowly bend your knees to grab your ankles with your arms.
You then pull your feet against your grip to lift your body off the floor.
For a beginner, you can fold a towel or light blanket below your pelvic area to avoid pressing hard against the floor.
You should also ensure your feet don’t spread apart wider than hip-width. In case of any neck or back pain or dizziness, lower yourself slowly.
The bow pose strengthens your back, opens your chest and shoulders, and improves your mobility to your hip flexors and front body.
With this type of backbend, you generally use — or contract — muscles in your back to overcome gravity. You perform these poses lying on your stomach or front.
The Locust Pose
A woman demonstrates how to perform the locust poseSource: Envato Elements
The locust pose is also known as the Salabhasana.
You perform the locust by lying on your stomach and contracting your back muscles to lift your chest and limbs off the ground.
To do so, gently press your pubic bone on the floor and slowly lift your legs, head, shoulders, and chest off the ground.
As a beginner, you can start by lifting just your upper body, and gradually train to lift your legs.
This pose will strengthen your back, glutes, and leg muscles, the front part of your body, and stimulate abdominal organs.
The pose shouldn’t be performed by pregnant women and should be discontinued immediately if discomfort or strain occurs.
These backbends are opposite to contraction backbends. Instead, it’s the muscles in the front that contract during poses to overcome gravity.
The Camel Pose
A woman performs the camel pose atop a grassy mountainSource: Envato Elements
This pose is also called the Ustrasana.
While performing this pose, the front part of the body controls movement in the back part of the body as you bend.
This means that the muscles in the front part of your body contract to enhance mobility in the back.
To do it, come down to your knees and ensure your feet are hip-width apart. As you ensure your body remains straight, slowly reach, with your arms, for your lower back, heels, or floor. You can do this one arm at a time to remain stable.
As you reach backward with your arms, carefully extend your head back so that your body is arched.
This pose stretches your whole front body, improves your posture, strengthens your back and legs, and also helps with your upper back and shoulders mobility.
Note that while performing the pose, you should be careful not to strain your neck as you pull your head backward.
If your knees strain or press hard against the floor, you can fold a mat or towel beneath to bring more comfort. You should avoid the pose if you have a serious back injury.
Upward Bow / Wheel Pose
This wheel pose is also called the Urdhva Dhanurasana, and it resembles a wheel. In gymnastics and acrobatics, it’s known as the bridge pose. It’s best performed if you’re advanced in yoga.
As a beginner, you should lie on your back and bend your knees hip-width apart. With your arms pressed on the floor along your sides, slowly lift your hips up and forward to perform the basic bridge.
At an advanced level, you can intensify the pose by lifting your whole body. To perform, stretch your arms and place the palms on the floor on either side of your head.
This pose strengthens your arms and wrists, as well as back, thighs, and shoulders. It also opens up your chest, quadriceps, and hip flexors.
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