If you’ve opened this blog then firstly go you because you’ve recognised a limitation in your body and decided not to ignore it! If you haven’t opened this blog, well there’s little point my speaking to you because you don’t know what I’m saying! The reason I say this is because I remember when I first started doing Yoga and I’d do backbends no problem, I thought they were easy. Then I started training and it wasn’t until I was taught to do a backbend properly that I realised I’d been getting UNNECESSARY backache doing backbends all this time. You see, I didn’t know that it was a bad thing to feel aches in my lower back when I went into it, I just assumed that everyone must get that and that it was just normal. How wrong I was! So this is why I’m so glad you’ve recognised that ache as something you need to stop getting. Now, how do you do that?
Step 1 - Change the name
In my head and to my students I have changed the name backbends to belly stretch. Let that sink in for a second… that makes sense, doesn’t it? You should get a beautiful belly stretch in all backbends but actually, if you back bend incorrectly the belly stretch won’t be so immense, so really it’s that stretch in the belly that you need to reach out to.
Thinking of it this way will also encourage you to open up through the front of the body, which will again help you to create space for the back body to bend.
Step 2 - Lengthen
imagine play-doh; if you roll it into a short sausage and then bend it tomake a rainbow shape you’ll see a slight fold in the middle. So, what would you do if you wanted to get rid of that crease in the middle? You’d make the sausage longer wouldn’t you? Well, it’s the same with the body. To back bend you need to make yourself longer to move each vertebra away from the next, so you don’t bend bone to bone.
Step 3 - Breathe
This is probably the most important step and here’s why. Do you find sometimes when you do a deep backbend like a camel pose that you get to a point where you can’t really breathe into the chest anymore? If you don’t get that then lucky you, but this is what used to happen to me a lot. If this happens it’s a little signal that you’re ‘belly stretching’ incorrectly. You should be able to breathe and talk easily the whole way into a backbend. The way to test if you can manage this yet or not is to take your time! go slow, keep breathing and if your breath gets stuck then you just need to keep practising and one day you’ll get there with a full breathe.
So, now you know these 3 important steps I hope you feel a little more able to tackle some ‘Belly Stretches’ ;)
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