Back bending is important because it works on the spine which directly affects the nervous system. A consistent practice of back bends will help fight depression, remove fears, improve reflexes, and assist in strengthening the core. Supplementary poses should be included to fully gain these benefits and prevent injury. Below is a quick glimpse at a few asanas which are great additions to the back bending practice. And, BONUS, they each come with their own benefits as well. It’s like getting a present in a present.
Ubhaya = both; Padangustha = big toe
- prevents hernia
- relieves severe backache
- tones the legs
- tones the kidneys (kidneys remove waste from the blood stream; release hormones that signal the production of red blood cells in bone marrow, regulate blood pressure and sends an active form of vitamin D, calcitriol, out to maintain calcium for bones)
- improves digestion
- stretches the pelvic area to produce a healthy flow of oxygenated blood around the reproductive organs (i.e. pumping up vitality so you can have Barry White nights with your one and only)
LET’S GET IT ON
Sit with legs extended in front of you. Bend the knees in towards the chest and grab the big toes with peace-sign fingers -or- grab the outer edges of the feet. Shift and drop weight into the sit bones; it should feel as if you are attaching them to the mat. Engage the core. Keep the spine long. Straighten the legs, pull the knee-caps towards thighs, and straighten the arms until you are completely balanced on the sit bones. The sit bones, btw, are the bottom edges of the pelvis or ischial tuberosity if you want to Geek out. Keep the breath moving and hold the pose for 30-60 seconds.
- helps the thyroid and parathyroid to function properly (the thyroid produces a number of hormones which regulate the way energy is distributed in the body through metabolism affecting body temperature, emotional stability, weight loss/gain, insomnia, and more). The thyroid is located in the neck below the larynx (voice box).
- calms the nerves
- puts a little more pizzazz in the abdominal organs
- relieves backache
- helps to relieve insomnia
Lie on your back with the legs extended straight in front of you and hands at your sides. Bend the knees in towards your chest. Place your hands, palms up, under the gluteus maximus. Lift the hips and gently push them towards the navel with your hands as you bring the knees to the forehead carefully- you don’t want to knee yourself in the face. Move the hands up to support the low back. Extend the legs straight behind you while pushing your hands into the low/middle back to bring the hips over the shoulders. Be mindful of your neck. There should be no pressure or weight on the neck. Your shoulders act as the base for the weight. Now, plant the toes on the ground. If you feel ready, remove the hands from your back and place them alongside the body with the finger tips pointing away from you. Keep the breath moving. Remain in this pose for one to five minutes.
*If your feet cannot touch the ground, you may put a slight bend in the knees, though, it is advised you use a bolster, blocks, or a chair as a prop instead. These props should be set up before you do the pose. For those who are very tight in the low back and hamstrings: use a chair. Place it against a wall and place a mat on top of the seat so your feet do not slide off. For students who are close to resting their feet on the ground, place two blocks together (lowest setting) or place a bolster, horizontally, above the head. Again, make sure you set up before the pose (measure the appropriate distance of the prop based on your height. The taller you are the further away the prop will be; the shorter, the closer it will be).
Karna=ear, Pida=pain, discomfort, or pressure
- stretches the spine
- Relieves backache
- boots circulation around the waistline
- rests the torso, heart, and legs
- opens the shoulders
From Halasana. Bend and drop the knees on the mat/ground. Use your hands to help bring the knees on either side of the ears. Place the hands around the legs and cover your ears with the palms of your hands. Gently squeeze the ears with the knees. All of the weight should be in the shoulders. Try to join the big toes together. Keep the breath moving. Stay in this pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” – Confucius