Are you sitting at your desk for prolonged working hours daily? Do you wake up to body or muscle stiffness every morning? If yes, then Yoga Backbend Poses could be an excellent relief for your lifestyle. I found these muscle stretching and relaxing exercises helpful in gaining and maintaining my body flexibility. After a bike accident and maternity issues, my body had various changes, and back pain became a chronic issue. Under the instructor’s guidance, I got to know about these beautiful stretching exercises and felt much relieved. Read on to know more!

What are Yoga Backbend Poses?

Yoga Backbend Poses, or heart-opening poses, are exercises that stretch your frontal body by curving your spine backward at different degrees. They are also referred to as “front body stretches,” as they stretch your front by contracting the back muscles. The spine supports our body and bears the entire weight during all our daily activities, and is prone to a lot of stress in our fast-paced lifestyles, often involving a lot of sitting. Several medical studies have shown connections between stress level and back pain, especially chronic low back pain. 

During stress, the muscles in the body tighten up. When they remain in this stressed position continuously and do not get the chance to relax, they might start several muscle pains in the body, e.g., Headache, Neck pain, Backache, etc., which might lead to a very unhealthy tendency of leaving the exercise altogether and getting refuge with the pain medicines. It’s needless to mention that those medicines have many side effects. Therefore, I would suggest you try and understand a little more detail about the Yoga Backbend Poses and try incorporating these exercises into your routine. You might start finding some added comfort and could even find relief from some old aches, if any. According to research papers, it will also help posture correction, which is the root cause of chronic back pain in many individuals. Chronic poor posture may also lead to more severe spine problems like disc herniation and straightening of the spine.

Who can do it?

Ideally, the Yoga Backbend poses are a sequence of exercises. The benefits of yoga backbend poses are for all age groups. So let’s understand how it would help individuals of different age groups. The general rules of yoga apply here too. Do it on an empty stomach or at least 3-4 hours after a meal. Doing it in the open in the morning has traditionally been considered the best. However, no time is the wrong time for yoga.

Kids

Most kids carry a heavy backpack loaded with books every day to school. It can leave a long-term impact on their young spines. Adopting the backbend exercises from a very young age might help them strengthen their backs and develop a correct posture and improve flexibility. The competitive academics and exams also create a sense of fear and stress by activating the sympathetic nervous system, which results in a build-up of tension in the neck and shoulders of our kid’s Torticollis (is having trouble with muscles surrounding your neck, which makes it tilt down) – can be caused by acute neurological /psychological condition, but does not happen due to chronic stress.

If you think your child may be suffering from this, these poses will be of great help. The muscles around the shoulders and neck would be relaxed when you stretch your front body in the right way.

Teenagers

Teenage is a period where hormones play a significant role and bring in many physical and behavioral changes. The transition from being a kid to growing into an adult can cause stress with added external pressures and expectations from the teachers and parents on the educational front. Peer pressure is no less too. Having emotional alertness with great energy and a flexible body would be every teenager’s dream. Unfortunately, low flexibility results in lesser participation in athletics that in turn leads to even lower flexibility. Do you see a vicious cycle there? Increasing the flexibility by these Backbend Poses can break this cycle. Enjoy the magic.

Adults

Young adults could be called adventure seekers too. Don’t you love to explore and experiment? What if a backache is stopping you? Or what if your body is not flexible for that adventurous ‘outing’? It’s disheartening to realize that all you need is to include these back stretching and strengthening poses. Try these Yoga Backbends and get adventurous. Consider using a gym ball or a backbend wheel initially but try to let go of it soon. (PS- Sitting on a gym ball instead of a chair leads to burning more calories and also gives you a better back)

Middle-Aged

Rush, Rush, and Rush is what describes the life of a middle-aged person. With the responsibility of our loving family and the desire to fulfill all their material wants, the middle-aged individuals get to work early, get the promotion ASAP and finally get back home early to spend time with their kids. It might even be hard to take a moment and breathe with the cutthroat competitions, family responsibilities, and racing lifestyles. Do you ever find time to see yourself in the mirror or even realize you have a poor back posture and have a chronic backache bothering you? I bet your answer is YES. Research from Hong Kong with 772,927 subjects found that the prevalence of back pain is much higher in our ladies than in men. Balancing between the roles of a mother, a wife, and the master manager can be overwhelming. Of all things you do for the family leaves no time for those long exercise sessions or relaxing and taking care of that back pain. These relaxing poses that might help you balance your stress while opening your heart and stretching the back muscles are worth trying to keep yourself on track for all the amazing work you do. Yoga Backbend Poses could be your solution, don’t miss out!

Aged Folks

I would say old age is the best age if you can stay healthy and fit. The worries and responsibilities would be off your shoulder. You would have bagged up a little of your savings and can enjoy some leisure time now. All you need is your body to cooperate physically and the zeal to explore life. Have you found it challenging to pick up your grandchildren? Are you missing out on playing with those little bundles of joy because of the back pain that started years ago when you built this world of abundance for your family and a prosperous community? Here you are with a secret that would allow you to enjoy all of it. All you might have to do is to push yourself to practice these Backbend Poses to maintain a stable back and stable health. Research shows that individuals who can prevent these back pains until the age of 65 are more likely to be pain-free for the rest of their lives. Many kinds of research have shown a strong connection between back pain and the inability to exercise. Other research has shown that regular exercise leads to longevity and happiness. In the starting, consider using a backbend wedge or a  non-skid gym ball under your belly to avoid slips and inadvertent overstretching. Make sure it is a non-skid gym ball. We are committed to relieve your back pain and help you exercise.

Who can’t do it?

The Yoga Backbend Sequence is advisable and is suitable for both the young and old alike. We would still recommend you stay away from these exercises if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • If you have a heart condition or ailment
  • If you have any prior spinal injuries
  • If you have back pain due to an orthopedic condition
  • If you have high blood pressure
  • If you have undergone recent surgery
  • If you are pregnant, or if you are menstruating

What are the scientific benefits?

Yoga as a form of exercise has numerous scientific benefits. Backbend Sequences form an essential part of yoga practice. Several research studies have shown benefits for people suffering from poor posture, chronic lower back pain, limited range of motion (ROM) of the back, Arthritis, primary dysmenorrhea, short attention span, and cognitive limitations. On the regular practice of the Backbend Poses, you might benefit from the following:

  • Improve your body balance and control
  • Strengthen your body muscles
  • Gain flexibility (Thighs, Hip Flexors, Upper Torso, Back, and Abdominal Wall)
  • Improve your paraspinal muscle strength and movement
  • Develop a better back posture
  • Relax and open your chest and shoulders (they stretch the pectorals, the deltoids, the intercostals, and the rotator cuff group)
  • Better shoulder stance 
  • Enhance your mental alertness
  • Alleviate pain over the long run
  • Improve your energy levels and feel rejuvenated
  • Pain relief in Arthritis
  • Pain relief during menstruation  
  • Longevity

Remember that you can enrich the effect of these poses when you consciously practice them with the appropriate breathing techniques.

Beginner Backbend Poses

Prepare your body before jumping into the Backbend exercises. Sit and relax and take some deep breaths while understanding and feeling how your body feels each day. Respect your body and have an awareness of the signs it displays. Once you feel ready, start with a few basic poses mentioned below.

  1. Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose

Lie downward facing with the hands under the shoulders, chin down, and legs together. Slightly stretch back by lifting the head and chest off the floor and keeping the gaze straight. Engage the core muscles and maintain the pubic bone down into the floor. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and try to focus on your neck and spine alignment. You should feel the pose through the strength of the back muscles and not entirely from your hands. The Cobra Pose opens the chest and aligns the spine. It stimulates the nervous system while strengthening the core body.

  1. Dhanurasana or Bow Pose

The Bow Pose is slightly tricky if you are a beginner but can be achieved gradually. Lie down on your stomach and focus on your core by holding your feet with your hands. Maintain the knees at the hip level from the ground and maintain the body of the floor. The Bow Pose tones the internal organs of your body. You can experience a stretch in the entire front portion of your body, including the hip flexors, thighs, ankles, shoulders, chest, and throat.

  1. Balasana or Child Pose

This basic and beginner-level pose is easy and comfortable amongst all the other Backbend Poses. Fold your legs backward and sit on your knees. Stretch your feet outward and keep your knees hip-width apart. Stretch and bend your torso downward on the floor, positioning it between the knees. Extend your arms outward at shoulder distance and align with your torso. The Child Pose improves blood circulation in the body. It alleviates back and neck pain and profoundly relaxes the shoulder and the chest. It lengthens the spine and stretches the muscles in the lower back and the inner thighs. It relieves tension in the tail bone and keeps it supple.

  1. Ustrasana or Camel Pose

Kneel and keep your back straight by positioning your knees hip-width apart. Position your hands on the back and slowly try to bend backward. Bring your shoulder joints closer at the back. Look upwards and reach your ankles and hold them with your hands (thumbs facing outward and fingers inward) for support. Alternatively, if you are a beginner and find it difficult to reach your ankles, try using Yoga Blocks or Yoga Bricks. Place the Yoga Blocks next to your ankles at the desired height, and then gradually try reaching your ankles once you are comfortable with the pose. The Camel Pose also stimulates the respiratory, nervous, and circulatory systems.

  1. Marjariasana or Cat Stretch Pose

Kneel on all fours that are your hands and legs positioned at shoulder and hip-width apart. Stretch your feet outward and place your palms on the floor straight under your shoulders. Lift your chin slightly up and bend down your navel a little into the ground while inhaling. Push your tailbone up at the time you have arch your back. Now return with a countermovement, bring your chin down, droop your tailbone, and extend the back upward, forming an inverted ‘C’ with the floor. Hold and repeat in sets. The Cat Stretch Pose strengthens your spine and makes it flexible. It releases stress and tension built in the back and neck. It also improves your blood circulation.

  1. Salabhasana or Locust Pose

The Locust Pose is yet another basic and beginner-level pose that warms up your body for deeper backbends as you practice it over a period. It appears to be much simpler, but you will find it like a task if you have body rigidity. Lie downward facing and rest your forehead on the floor. Stretch your arms backward alongside the torso and place your palms facing upward. Rotate your thighs inward and bring your toes slightly closer. Exhale and try to lift your head, arms, legs, and chest up from the floor. Feel the stretch throughout and hold the ribs, pelvis, and belly onto the floor. Relax and repeat in sets. The Locust Pose strengthens the pelvic floor, abdomen, deltoids, triceps, hips, and buttocks. It also stretches the spine and helps maintain flexibility and posture.

Take it easy

Don’t be in a hurry with this Asana, and push your flexibility limits slowly. Your time will come when you impress everyone with back bending abilities in a Yoga class or crab walk down the staircase as the girl in the exorcist movie. Overdoing the exercise can harm your back, so always take it easy. Always remember to breathe and stretch!

Summary

Yoga Backbend Poses could be your answer to stress and fatigue while alleviating some old pains in the body. Try to stretch the right way, stay conscious and focus on the proper breathing techniques to reap the best benefits for your body. Always listen to your body and don’t push it way beyond as you might end up in injuries. Enjoy these beautiful beginner-level backbends Poses to start with and gradually adopt the variants and deeper poses. Seek out a medical practitioner for guidance if you have any medical history or recent surgeries, or any other ailments before experimenting on any of these poses at home all by yourself. Stay physically flexible, mentally alert, and live a happy life. Most back pains result from the excessive strains, long hours of sitting, and poor posture that we subject our backs to. 

So remember that You are the Cause, and You are the Cure.

Sri Lakshmi, Devina and Dr. Mishra

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