Why are backbends uncomfortable for many people?
Can we do anything to change this?
Let’s dive into my #1 backbend technique to relieve back pain and provide you with maximum range of motion. Before we do, though, we need to first acknowledge that backbends are not something most of us do every day. Quite the opposite. When was the last time you bent over backwards to type on your computer, eat a meal, or scroll through Instagram? It’s not a typical functional movement, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve our health and well-being.
A healthy spine has the capability to move forward and back. The easiest starting point to relieve pain is always to figure out what your dominant movement or posture is, and slowly work to reverse it. Simply put, strengthening the back muscles and lengthening the front body muscles is the first step toward feeling great in your back. HOW to do this is the challenge.
Intuitively, we know how to move our bodies, but that gets lost due to conditioned, repetitive patterning. Think of babies just about to crawl — they push themselves up into a back-bending low Cobra first and then eventually learn how to coordinate the knees. Somehow they figure out what needs to happen to be able to move. Before your yoga practice, when was the last time your peeled yourself off the floor and did something like that Cobra? So give yourself a break. If backbends are uncomfortable, it’s not because you aren’t capable; your adult body just needs to learn it again.
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- Increase spinal range of motion
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RECONNECT TO YOUR BODY WISDOM
Make no mistake — you have the same inner wisdom that you did as a child, but it takes some retraining. What’s more, your body develops muscle memory from all the physical and emotional contracting you do during the day. Soon, shoulders slump forward, bringing your neck and head along with them. Arms move closer together and your chest caves in.
Yoga brings awareness to the felt sense of your physical potential beyond just basic needs. Backbending is beyond your basic, functional needs, but backbends can be enriching and healing.
Learning anything new requires focused effort, routine, repetitive practice, and failure. The process is no different when it comes to learning postures in your body, except for one important distinction: Failing body postures can lead to short- or long-term injury.
To minimize risk, we have to apply smart techniques and step-by-step actions informed by contemporary anatomy education. Rather than repeating the same uncomfortable backbends over and over, hoping for change, you learn and apply new techniques. With time and repetition, you can develop the appropriate strength and flexibility that can lead to joyful backbends.
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WHAT IS “BOWING THE SPINE”?
THE #1 BACKBEND TECHNIQUE TO RELIEVE BACK PAIN AND INCREASE SPINAL FLEXIBILITY
“Bowing the spine” is a technique that combines a few key elements that I go over in detail in the video below. The dominant action is sliding your intervertebral discs forward, which requires a deliberate shifting of your rib cage. The secondary action is lengthening the distance between the upper and lower body.
If you want to try this technique in your practice and learn how to develop greater strength, range of motion, and body awareness with backbends, join me for May’s 12-class immersion: Heart Openers: Discover the Joy of Backbending
FREE VIDEO PODCAST ON BOWING THE SPINE WITH PROFESSOR MATT
To implement this technique and access your spinal potential, check out
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