Yoga with Dr. Prajakta – Week 2: Basics of Backbends

Welcome to Week 2 of “Yoga with Dr. Prajakta”.

There is a saying in the Yoga community: Your age is measured not in years but by the flexibility of your spine.

That is so true.

Our spines are an incredible combination of Strength and Flexibility – Sthira and Sukha. A strong and flexible spine not only lends our bodies aesthetic beauty but also helps us live productive and active lives without pain.

When your bones and muscles are strong, they give you structure and protect the sensitive nerves. Just as importantly, flexible ligaments and tendons allow the spine to move in different planes and enable movement.

So, let’s get a little younger this week by working on Back & Spine Health.

Backbends – why do them?

All the asanas that we’ll look at this week involve bending backwards. With regular backbends, we can create a wonderful balance of Strength and Flexibility. The benefits are increased mobility and stronger supporting muscles around the skeleton.

Some fundamental principles:

  • Warm up!

I know I’m stating the obvious but this needs repeating: never ever start an exercise without properly warming up the muscle that you’ll be working upon – and this diktat holds true for Yoga as well.

When warming up, think about mobilizing your spine in different directions. For instance, you could do Cat Pose variations (which we’ve seen last week), gentle twists and side bends. Suryanamaskar/Sun Salutations are also great as they warm up the whole body.

  • Start slow

Most of us are constantly hunched forward throughout the day, whether we’re driving, texting, working on the laptop, playing with kids, etc. The backbend requires us to do the exact opposite (one of the reasons why it is so great) but since it’ll be a new movement for most of us, we need to start gently and take it slow.

  • Get a spotter

If you’re unaccustomed to backbends, you might have a fear of falling. You could ask a friend to spot you as you bend into the pose, just as you have a spotter in the gym when you go heavy.

You can even take the support of a wall.

Important Precautions:

What if you have a bad back or have suffered a back injury in the past? Should you completely avoid backbends?

That would really depend on the type of injury – some poses can actually help free up tension but some of the more advanced poses should be avoided.

To be on the safe side, visit your physician before practising the backbends.

Tip Of The Day:

Go safely and mindfully into your practice this week and enjoy the benefits of the backbends.

Author: Dr. Prajakta Jawalkar

(This is part of a continuing Yoga series that is running through December 2018. Come back tomorrow for the next article in the series).