Who is Afraid of Backbends!

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Our Yoga expert, Navodita, tells us that though backbends seem intimidating, it’s not all the difficult. We don’t have to be a contortionist or drop into a Full Wheel from standing to reap the heart and chest opening benefits these poses deliver. The hardest part is that they go against the natural way we hold and move our bodies – while we slouch forward and move forward, backbends take us the opposite direction. She tells us about three asanas, Uttana Shishoasana, the extended puppy pose, or chair pose and Catuspadapitham or crab pose. She ends with tips on meditation, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Backbends can seem intimidating as you may have been trying out some of the ones we have talked about, yet you don’t have to be a contortionist or drop into a Full Wheel from standing to reap the heart and chest opening benefits these poses deliver. The hardest part is that they go against the natural way we hold and move our bodies – while we slouch forward and move forward, backbends take us the opposite direction. So here are some more of these – Uttana Shishoasana, Utkatasana and Catuspadapitham

Uttana Shishoasana, Uttana Shvana or Extended Puppy Pose

This pose gets its name from the young one of a dog, puppy. Here you have to come into a tabletop – on all fours, with your hips stacked directly over your knees, and your shoulders over your wrists. Rest the tops of your feet on the mat, toes pointing straight back. Keep your feet parallel and hip-width apart. On an exhalation, begin to walk your hands out in front of you. Allow your chest to melt toward the floor as you slowly release your forehead to the mat. Spread your fingers and press firmly into the thumb and index fingers. Activate the hand lock by rooting into your finger pads and creating a lifting action like a suction cup in your palms. Roll your upper arm bones outward away from your ears to broaden the shoulders. Feel your triceps wrapping down toward the outer edges of the mat as your biceps spin up toward the ceiling. Lift your elbows slightly off the mat. On your next inhalation, deepen into the stretch by raising your hips up and back toward the wall behind you, meanwhile getting your chest down toward the floor. Breathe deeply into the stretch and hold for five to ten breaths. Release the pose by walking back into the tabletop position.

It stretches the upper back, spine, and shoulders; opens the chest and helps release chronic tension in the shoulders and neck.

Utkatasana or Chair Pose

In this asana you start by standing up straight in the mountain pose. In this pose with the feet together, inhale the arms forward parallel to the floor with the palms facing down. Exhale and bend the knees, squatting down. Reach the hips down and back as if you were going to sit on the edge of a chair, bringing your weight to the heels of the feet. Do not bring the hips lower than the level of the knees. Make sure the knees are pointing straight ahead. Press the shoulders down and back trying to arch the spine. the shoulders down and back and reach out through the finger tips. Stare at a point on the wall or on the floor in front of you for . Breathe and hold for three to six breaths. Inhale and press down into the feet and inhale the arms up toward the ceiling. Exhale and release the arms down.

This pose strongly strengthens the lower , while stretching the upper back. This posture invigorates and energises the whole .

Catuspadapitham or Crab Pose

In this pose, you have to inhale and get into a seated posture on the floor. Then again inhale, lean back into the arms and lift the hips up towards the ceiling. Make sure the toes and knees are pointing straight ahead. Look straight ahead, up at the ceiling or carefully drop the head back. Press into the feet, squeezing the thighs and buttocks and engaging Mula Bandha to lift the hips high. Press into the hands and draw the shoulder blades towards each other to lift the sternum or the bone higher up. Breathe and hold for two to six breaths. Slowly exhale the hips back down to the floor.

This pose opens the chest and tones the low back to stimulate the respiratory and endocrine systems. Crab pose also builds arm, leg, nd core body strength.

So this was the easy workout for the back for beginners. Time to meditate and build on a positive energy through thoughts:

  • Samadhi means equanimity. “Dhi” is the intellect- the faculty that sustains you; a faculty of .
  • Life is ever changing. Everything is changing. They are bound to change; to dissolve and disappear. The feeling of “I”, the Consciousness is all that is.
  • Everything is empty. Everything is in a state of fluidity. The whole world is just a quantum mechanical field. This is Vitarka. This is Samadhi.
©Navodita Pande

Photos from the net.

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Navodita Pande

Navodita Pande

Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24x7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.
Navodita Pande
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