Having recently spent some time in class more deeply exploring the benefits of forward folding, I thought it time to turn attention to backbends......again, normally a section that you will find in most yoga classes, but here is why it's sometimes good to pay them a little more attention:
1. Backbends require the front of the body to be long and open, and so encourage length in the notoriously tight hip flexors, the bane of many a runner and cyclist. Backbends therefore aid recovery for and prevent injuries from running and cycling.
2.Increased spinal flexibility and reduced tension in soft tissues of the lower back can help to reduce impingement in the lower back and reduce and relieve sciatic pain.
3. Stretching the muscles in the shoulders, chest and neck will relieve tightness in the upper body, beneficial to those of us that sit in front of a computer or at a steering wheel all day, thus counteracting rounded shoulders.
4. The heart opening, chest lifting action of backbends is thought to relieve stress and anxiety and lift the mood.
5. Backbends strengthen the back, by lifting against the force of gravity, which will also help with improved posture.
6. Backbends help to create more space in the chest and therefore encourage you to breathe deeply and freely.
Some people feel a little afraid of backbending - having come to the practice through a sore back, I was one - but there are so many ways to access this practice that it really is suitable and beneficial for all, whatever your level of practice. Come and give it a go, and once you have enjoyed the benefits, you might just find yourself a little more willing to try other things that are outside of your comfort zone....