Benefits of Backbends

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How is September is almost over?!! If you’ve been reading my blog this month, you know that my local classes are focusing on Backbends / Back Extensions for September. Which brings up a good point… why?Why do backbends? Some of them look pretty scary. This post includes a short list on some of the benefits you’ll receive when practicing back extension poses.

As always, with ANY pose in yoga (but especially something that involves the spine so much), don’t do anything that hurts. Back extensions shouldn’t hurt at all when done correctly. See my previous post on Tips for Backbends if you’d like to read more about preparing for backbends and executing them correctly.For now, here’s a little list of good things that backbends can do for you…

• For back health in general, think of always going for optimal  stability and mobility  in the spine. Practicing back extensions regularly help with this by 1) building stability of the core and back muscles and 2) easing into backbends over time can bring you spinal mobility. Notice I said “over time”...it’s taken me years to do Wheel Pose and not look like a square. As I said in my Backbend Tips post:  value progress over perfection, and patience above all. Good things take time. (At least for some of us.) 
• Backbends can help reverse bad posture by bringing the spine back into balance. Think of all of the slouching you do everyday (driving, sitting at a desk, relaxing on the sofa, playing on your phone), and how it makes sense that mindfully extending the spine the opposite way would feel nice and be beneficial.
• Backbends help not only with posture, but with overall awareness of the spine. You’ll notice how you treat your spine more often, reminding you to stand tall and not slouch.
• They open the chest area = better breathing.

• They stretch the front of the body, while strengthening the back of the body.
• Backbends are invigorating! They are great for boosting mood and energy.
• Good for digestion.
• When done correctly, backbends are good for your spinal discs.
• On an emotional level, backbends open the front of the body and fire up the heart chakra (aka your energetic heart area). This relates to vulnerability, love, compassion and courage. In everyday terms, when doing a backbend, you are literally exposing the most vulnerable areas of your body. I read an amazing book a while back, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. The whole book is about our views on vulnerability. One thing that I took away from the book is that every time you show up and let yourself be seen (by being yourself and doing your thing), you build courage. Every time you do it, it gets a little bit easier. What an en-courage-ment that is. So, if backbends can help you open your heart and live life more fully, then the better questions is: why aren’t you doing them? 

Love & Light.

Notes:
Ask your doctor if you have back injuries (past or present), are pregnant, or have high blood pressure before practicing backbends.

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