Use these tips to go deeper in your backbend poses without any pain.
Backbends are a great addition to any practice because they open up your upper body, release stiffness, and increase strength. Bendy people will fall back, twist, and contort themselves easily, but it’s a different story if you have a stiff back.
You will know that pushing yourself in such poses is not a good idea because it causes aches, discomfort, and even more stiffness. Besides doing upper body stretches to help warm up your body and create a better relationship with backbends, follow these tips to jump over the hurdle that’s been in your way.
(Also read: 8 Best Stretches to Increase Upper Body Mobility)
Use your butt to support you
Although backbends look like they’re all about flexibility, they’re also about strength. If you are supple, you’ll be able to go to the deepest pose but struggle to return to the starting pose.
To be more stable in backbends, you need both strength and softness. But it isn’t just about your back. Engaging your glutes will help to support your back and stabilise your lower body. It also makes you tuck in your tailbone and use your abs to lengthen your body.
“Of course I’m breathing”, you might be thinking. But in many instances, people are often so focused on the pose that they hold their breaths for its duration. Red faces in backbends are caused by blood rushing to the head, as well as the sudden lack of oxygen.
Breathing encourages relaxation and allows you to concentrate on your breath to find mental and physical stability. Inhale slowly to detect the areas that are tight. During exhalations, send more oxygen to those areas to hopefully release some tension.
Even if this doesn’t immediately improve your backbend practice, it’ll surely help in the long run because breathing slowly will allow you to stay in the pose longer to practise and progress.
(Also read: This Breathing Exercise Could Help You Live Longer)
Lengthen your spine
When you think “bend”, you might think that you’re trying to contract your spine. On the contrary, it’s actually about lengthening your spine to help you breathe easily.
Compressing the spine can cause discomfort or pain. It also reduces space for your body to move.
Soften your knees to give your spine more space; your back is able to bend better when your tailbone isn’t pressing upwards.