5 Yoga Back Bends for Beginners
Yoga back bends for beginners can provide deep stretching across the front of the body- the heart center, belly, groin, chest. Yoga students work to feel release and balance between a fear of letting go and balance in their bodies. The focus of yoga back bends for beginners is to open to the full movement of breath and energy in the front of the body. We play with the edge in back bends. We can learn to feel compassion to ourselves and start to understand how yoga back bends can provide a feeling of freedom. We should not focus on perfection, but on opening the heart.
Yoga Back Bends for Beginners
Asanas in the back bend family can be categorized into contraction, traction, and leverage back bends. Each has an important distinction and action.
1. Contraction Back Bends
Muscles along the back of the body concentrically contract to overcome gravity. This means that the back muscles are squeezing together.
2. Traction Back Bends
Muscles in the front of the body contract to overcome gravity.
3. Leverage Back Bend
The arms or legs (or both) press against a stable object like the floor, the wall, or another part of the body, to stretch the front of the body.
Extension or Flexion
Each type of yoga back bend for beginners can be extension or flexion of muscles. To extend the muscles in the front of the body, try Salabhasana A, Ustrasana (shown above) or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose.)
To feel flexion in back bends try Salabhasana C, or Kapotasana (pigeon pose). The bends require different arm positions that require areas of engagement and release through the shoulder girdle.
4. Shoulder Extension Back Bends
Extension of the arms requires the scapulae to be stabilized by the rhomboids, lower trapeziuses, and serratus anterior muscles. At the same time, the pectoralis majors and minors release.
5. Shoulder Flexion Back Bend
Flexion requires the rhomboids, pectoralis majors, triceps, and latissimi dorsi to release.
How to Build Yoga Back Bends for Beginners into Sequences
Surya Namaskara A is a warming sequence for a reason. It employs back bends in every posture. The exploration of back bends can be done lightly and safely in this beginning flowing sequence. As the body warms, we can move deeper into back bends as long as the body does not strain. Deep and held back bends can be done at the peak of a yoga practice when the body is most warm.
Practicing standing yoga asanas that open the quadriceps, hip flexors, and groin muscles allow for greater hip extension. Try poses like Anjanyasana, Ashta Chandrasana, and Virabhadrasana A to open the hip flexors. These poses teach pelvic neutrality in relation to the extension of the spine in back bends.
Supta Virasana is an one of the best yoga back bends for beginners. It teaches internal rotation of the femurs and prepares for deeper back bends by stretching the thighs, hip flexors, and groin muscles.
Use gentle twists for deep release of tension. Be sure to transition from side to side after holding briefly. Then start to move into deeper and more sustained twists.
Forward folding hip openers like gomukhasana will stretch external rotators and piriformis muscles and will help to release pressure in the lower back and sacroiliac joint. This will make more deeply relaxing forward bends more accessible. Yoga back bends for beginners will make the yoga body feel great!
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