Back Bends

Yoga Practice

Many people are scared of back bends. In classes, I often see people with “no, not back bends” written all over their faces. This aversion is not because the human body doesn’t enjoy moving the chest and spine in a backwards bend. Rather it’s because most of us hold our bodies in the opposite position all week. Slumped, concaved and depressed. This forward-slumped computer/mobile phone stance is so strong in our current generations and is appearing in the bodies of younger and younger people. Yoga shows us that our bodies are not separate from the mind-heart-spirit. The body is basically a map of our internal and external worlds. Marking, logging and habituating itself to mirror how we are, bridging our inner and outer worlds. So, what could our slumped 21st century stance and aversion to bending back be trying to communicate to us? That we hold our heart back from the world, that we are not proud to stand tall, that we are scared to open ourselves and be seen for all that we are? That we are depressed? In grief, closed, introverted? That we have fallen into the myth of separation and believe we are alone and disconnected from those around us? As you read this now, you may have begun to mark how you are holding your body, the position of your spine, neck, chest, shoulders. Have a little play at slumping forwards, collapsing around your chest and letting your head slide forwards as you read this screen. Now ask yourself, how does this make me feel? Are there any emotions this provokes, any thoughts? Is this a common feeling for me? Now shift, bring awareness to the back of your spine, and let it lengthen. Now a more in-depth check for your alignment – take this slowly, step by step and play around with how these adjustments suit your body. Gently find the home of your chin where the front of the throat and back of the neck are equally long, let your head float up like a balloon and your tail bone root down to the earth to lengthen your lower back. Now slide the front bones of your shoulders a tiny amount back, let the shoulder blades rest flush onto the back, allow the collarbone to broaden and make space at the base of your neck. And then tilt your breastbone ever so slightly up to the sun as your lower floating ribs slide in towards your spine. Now ask, how does this make me feel? Are there any emotions this provokes, any thoughts? Is this a common feeling for me? Cultivating an open-hearted stance is so important for all levels of our being.

Copyright © Alex Hanly 2007-2015


I am passionate about practicing yoga, teaching yoga, baking, family, breastfeeding, art, sustainable living, dancing and community! I recently started new yoga classes in Elham Kent.
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