In Yoga, Deeper is not Always Better
I do not do backbends like this anymore. Too many hours of teaching yoga, an already extreme lumbar curve, coupled with very tight hamstrings from all the tennis and running around I do has made this deep a backbend no longer appropriate for my practice. I still do healthy backbends, but I have learned through my injuries to ensure that yoga is a healing practice and not a hurting practice. I am always improving my skills and understandings as a teacher to help my students get the most out of their yoga practice.
I recently took a course online with one of my favorite yoga therapists Olga Kabel on Backbending safely. She pointed out that there are Show Horses poses that look really good but are not necessarily
accomplishing what we aim to do and then there are Work Horses poses that don’t look as sexy but have far more benefits. To the side are examples of each.
Understanding the reason for doing a backbend is very important. Backbends have two purposes depending on the backbend you do– strengthening the back and stretching the front. Knowing why you are doing a pose is important. So if you are not clear on that, ask your teacher? Breathwork can play a role in this as well. As I have worked with my students this week on safe backbends, we have raised our chest up during inhales and come back to neutral on the exhales to keep our attention on the purpose of these poses.
It is not how hard you practice, it is how smart
The pose above looks simple, but with the right engagement of muscles surrounding my spine and not pushing on my hands, it becomes a strong back-strengthening pose. In order for yoga to stay a practice for life, it is important to understand the benefits and potential problems with each asana. That is why a highly trained teacher who pays attention to these details is important.
Andrea Trank is a member of FemCity Fort Myers and is a Global Member. She is passionate about health and wellness as she has successfully battled autoimmune diseases her whole life. In addition to her advanced training in Yoga and Essential oils, she is studying to be a Functional Nutrition Coach because she has come to realize that Food Can Be Medicine. She is determined to stave off diseases such as Alzheimer’s which is afflicting her mother. She also is a jewelry designer and has an Etsy Store where she sells her heart-centered, handmade jewelry.