Back Bending Asanas allows us to face the outside world and open our heart and body to embrace others. They are extroverting and invigorating for the body, mind and our consciousness. They expand the chest and encourage inhalation. They are dynamic asanas which moves our body opposite to gravity thereby requires more energy and strength to perform.
The back bending asanas tones the spinal and abdominal muscles thus creates a dynamic equilibrium between the two groups of muscles while twisting, extension and bending. The abdominal and back muscles are toned and strengthened and provides more flexibility to the spine and lower portions of the body like pelvis and hip joints. The spinal nerves are decompressed. As the spinal nerves provide functional ability to all other nerves reaching the major organs and muscles of the body, it speaks a lot about why healthy spine is so crucial for our overall state of physical and mental health.
The spinal column is a stacked pile of vertebrae and discs. Maintenance of the spine in a straight line and in an aligned position depends entirely on the supportive contraction and tone of the muscles working in balance and integration with each other. The muscles themselves controlled unconsciously through the posture. Tension and strain in the activity of the back muscles results in 90% of the back problems which is nothing but the imbalance in the activity of the back muscles. If these imbalances are prolonged and left untreated then these imbalances can result in misaligned vertebral column. It results in straining ligaments and symptoms of spondylitis, slipped disc, sciatica, and osteoarthritis manifest with time.
The practice of balanced sequences of backward bending and forward bending asanas can correct postural defects and neuro muscular imbalances of the vertebral column. It’s very important to perform all these asanas with proper control and synchronization with the breath and body movements to achieve desired and uniform contractions as anything more or less would result in injuries.
Normally, impure blood stagnates in the lower back region due to sluggish circulation in that region and more often due to continuous upright position people keep while sitting in office or working on the desk on computer. These back bending asanas help in maintaining the circulation and remove the stagnant impure blood from that region, replacing it with new fresh oxygenated blood which not only tones the back muscles but also improves their normal function. They create a negative pressure in the abdomen and pelvis, helping to massage and tone all the related organs.
People with excessive lower back ache and Lumbar curve (Lumbar lordosis) should not practice these asanas except saral bhujangasana, easier variation of Gomukhasana and ardha shalambhasana. The intense backbends like ustrasana, dhanurasana and urdhva dhanurasana should be completely avoided initially. They can be performed only by people with healthy and flexible spine as it requires much energy, strength and muscle coordination to perform them. These asanas are not recommended during pregnancy as they are weight bearing asanas on the abdomen.
Finally the back bending asanas must be a part of your daily Yoga Asanas regime and schedule. Ignoring back bending asanas and focusing too much on forward bendings, inversions and standing asanas would not be a good balanced holistic approach. Most importantly, forward bending asanas should either precede or follow the back bending asanas to maintain the dynamic equilibrium of the spine.
Only with healthy spine, the healthy body can exist.
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