⭐️As our month long #shiftyourpractice yoga class slowly starts to wind down, we are getting into the backbends. On day 25 we are practicing Ustrasana or Camel pose, a very non constricting and accessible backbend.
⭐️Backbends are incredibly healthy for our spine! All day long, all we do is the opposite - rounding our backs, slouching the shoulders, tucking the chin down. When we sit, drive, eat, relax on the couch. So in yoga we try to reverse the effects of bad posture, as well as the effects of gravity and aging which are working against the health of our backs.
⭐️All backbends have the same basic alignment cues - bring the shoulder blades together, the shoulders back, tuck your chin slightly in and then back, lengthening the neck and throat area. Backbends are primarily to happen from the HEART, opening the heart chakra. However, our tendency is to first bend (and sometimes even break) from the lower back. So we have to protect the sacral area, specially in camel.
⭐️Start with your knees under hips, shins parallel and hip distance apart as well, tuck your toes under (that makes heels more accessible if going for full pose). Bring your hands to tops of your gluteus, fingers pointing down. Engage your gluteus muscles and feel them pressing into your palms. Now press back and shift your hips forward - very important!! Specially when reaching far back, people tend to move their hips back as well which is not safe for lower back and doesn’t allow the heart to open enough. Your hips should be at least over your knees.
⭐️Bring your shoulders and tops of your ribs back, engage the shoulder blades and feel your chest expand. Bring your head back gently and gaze behind you. This is the first stage of the pose, as demoed by me here. Feel free to stay here and work on your flexibility step by step. There should never be any pinching or pain in your back. Back bends are not just about flexibility but also strength. We are not seeking to make our spines hyper mobile, but equally firm and flexible.
⭐️Now find your back bends and show us your big beautiful hearts! Check my co hosts for variations and tips @rima_danielle @veganyogiunicorn @yinandjuice @mindyvegan