Back bends can be scary and intimidating because it’s the process of deeply opening yourself up to find what’s hiding beneath the surface. Revealing parts of yourself that are yet to be discovered. Emotional wounds, that are covered in buried treasures. The buried treasure that is called “Atman” in Sanskrit, meaning inner self or soul. Exposing your Atman to this world is a courageous act which can be really beautiful and at the same time, a terrifying process.
Not only does back bending take muscular strength and practice, you allow your energetic heart, the yogis call (anahata chakra) to be activated. Once this is activated you feel similar to when you were 4 years old, skipping in the yard singing love songs to god. You feel an overwhelming sense of joy and connection to everyone.
For those that have had a traumatic experience with opening up their heart and being rejected, or feelings of unsafety, have wounds or walls around their anahata chakra. If we are honest with ourselves, we have all experienced some sort of trauma and the only way to heal is to slowly open yourself back up. Backbends are a beautiful opportunity to start to practice this opening in your body, thus in your mind.
Back bends are the practice of staying open when life gives us reasons to close.
If you are feeling emotional after a back bend practice give yourself space to be alone and journal.
If you are feeling overly joyous and loving, share that love with others who are able to receive and meet you on that level. If you are in an overly joyous, and loving space having to go to a business meeting you might benefit from a grounding practice to realign your system.
One helpful exercise to do after any backbend, from yoga teacher, Annie Carpenter: “Take a moment to sit, pause, close your eyes, breathe and place both hands over your heart to bring your energy in.”
A grounding tip: Feel the skin around your body, and imagine a chord from the deepest part of the earth connecting to your feet. Breathe in through the soles of your feet, all the way up your spine. Breath out down your spine through the soles of your feet.
Also creating boundaries in the physical sense with proper alignment and guidance from a certified yoga teacher. The power of your strong legs stabilize you to the ground, and the power of your core protects your lower back.
More than just your back
Back bends can be the catalyst to an emotional release in your energetic system. Freeing you up to be more joyous, and peaceful in your life, connecting you with your deeper self. I believe deep down all we want to be is happy and at peace, and if a backbend practice can bring us that, then bring on the backbends!
Back bends stretches the intercostal muscles which hold the ribs, allowing for the lungs to fully expand, taking in more oxygen.
When we take in more oxygen, we are more energized and feel more ALIVE. When we are more alive, we are able to express ourselves more fully and others around us will feel it.
Lets spread the goodness of backbands off our mat, into our everyday life!
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu! May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.