If you don’t know why we do backbends in yoga, think about why we do forward bends. Folding the body inward does many things at once. First, it begins the blood movement from the bottom of the spine up through the top of the head, reversing its usual course and improving circulation throughout the body. Second, it massages the internal organs, unsticking any items from the inside of the stomach and helping digestion move along. Third, it lengthens the spine, sides of the ribs, back of the neck, hamstrings, calves, and ankles.
Backbends do almost the opposite. Unfolding the body provides the freedom to expand, to be as big as your body lets you, to open. It requires the use of all the parts of you that are usually kept curled in—fingertips, stomach, collarbones, shoulders, hips—and wakes them up with heat and action. Backbends also gently massage the internal organs with the power of the ujjayi breath. And, depending on the kind of backbend you’re doing, the action of “bending” the back (or arching the spine) extends and stretches the front of the body, tops of the thighs, the shoulder girdle, and the heart.
Most importantly, the action of arcing the body open lights you up. Backbends remind you what it feels like to open yourself, not just physically but emotionally, too. We are taught to keep our hearts safe and enclosed. Every time our heart gets hurt, we close around it a little tighter. Because of this emotional action, our physical bodies respond and fold inwards, protecting ourselves from further pain. Sometimes, yoga is the only place where we can feel safe enough to show our hearts. This practice is necessary to becoming the fullest, brightest, loveliest, heart-shining being you can be.
By Fae Leslie Hoffman; All Rights Reserved @2018