Intermediate backbend asana.
Deeply opens and heats front body, especially heart, anterior hips, shoulders, anterior thighs, abdomen and throat, strengthens spinal erectors and core, stimulates digestive fire, relieves constipation.
Exhilarates, raises energy, induces mental clarity.
Subtle Body Benefits
Stimulates svadisthana, vishuddhi and anahata chakras.
Results in a higher and more profound ability to love if the exhilaration and opening at the heart centre is used as a way to forgive others for perceived wrongs.
Kneel on a yoga mat with soles of feet facing up and heels in line with sitting bones. If you experience knee discomfort, double up your mat. Root through all ten toes, especially the pinkie toes. Reach behind you and manually spread all your toes a little wider apart, and press them into the mat.
Place the palms of your hands against your sacrum with fingertips pointing up if you’re flexible, otherwise, hands on hips with thumbs pointing back and fingers forward.
Inhale and reach your heart up as you root your tailbone and knees and all ten toes down, then exhale as you press your hands or your thumbs against your sacrum, pushing the hips slightly forward. Do this a number of times, each time increasing the space between lower ribs and top of pelvis as you reach your heart up on the inhalation. Each time you exhale, gently press your sacrum forward a little more, allowing your spine to curl into a circle.
Now release your hands from your pelvis and sit in Vajrasana - Thunderbolt Pose or Virasana - Master’s Pose with your hands placed over your heels with fingertips facing forward.
As you inhale, lift your hips up and reach your heart up. As you exhale, root into your knees, your hands into your heels, all ten toes into the mat and anchor your tailbone down between your two heels. Inhale and reach your heart up, up, up.
You can safely drop your head back when your torso is horizontal relative to the ground. Till then, keep jalandhara bandha and your deep neck flexors engaged.
Tips from Deep Retreat
A backbend focused practice is best done earlier in the day if you like to sleep at night! Backbends are exhilarating and raise the energy, excite the nervous system and increase the fire and air elements in your body. You may feel light and even slightly ungrounded! You might need to consume more grounding foods after a backbend practice - cooked rather than raw foods, richer, heavier foods and carbohydrates can counteract too much air element.
Backbend practices raise the energy of svadishthana chakra - this can mean that your sexual energy may increase. Act accordingly.
They also raise the energy and awareness of Anahata Chakra - the heart chakra. You can transform any sexual energy you experience or feelings of love and expansiveness that come and direct them towards challenging people in your life - this is a perfect energy signature or pranic flavour for thinking about those you may like to work on forgiving.
During deep retreat, I focused on practices which included many backbends during one practice session - this helped to deepen the practice and allow for a profound experience of the subtle energies that are awakened when the front body is allowed to completely open.
Always follow a backbend with a simple twist.
Remember to counter with gradually deepening forward bends at the end of the practice session!
If you do an intense backbend practice, do a completely different practice the following day or for a couple of days, such as forward bends and twists or inversions. This will allow your body full recovery and a complete integration of the effects of the practice - it’s like one or two days of Savasana just for your spine!
Child’s Pose – Balasana, or any other forward bend.
Avoid if you have a back injury. Double your mat beneath your knees if you have knee discomfort.