Angela’s Yoga Lab: Exploration on the Mat
In my classes of late, I have been focusing on habitual pattern forming, working with the Amydala, (two almond shaped glands situated in the brain) that are responsible for memory function, patterns and relationship forming. As part of this I have been tapping into those Asanas that involve backbending. Backbends are also fantastic for exploring and tracking sensation, a topic I discussed in my previous Muuyu blog article.
Going backwards allows us to address our fears.
Journeying into Yoga backbends you will quickly meet your emotional and physical edge/s – which is a juicy and interesting place to begin to name and track inner sensation! Often going backwards can evoke a lot of fear regardless of the ‘level’ you are at.
When we address fear on the Yoga mat, it also provides an opportunity to confront ourselves and investigate our habitual ways of dealing with fear which, as I have learned, can be a great catalyst for change.
Being curious when our fears become exposed, we can quickly see what is functioning within us and what is not.
For example I love the transition from dropping back from Tadasana into Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel) which can be viewed as “literally dropping backwards” into the unknown. To master the drop requires a steady, controlled mind, an equanamous mind, in the face of the unknown.
Asanas are there to serve us.
Asanas going into spinal extension involve going into the central nervous system of the spine. The spine is responsible for efficient nervous response, motor control, efficient functioning of the organs and providing accurate feedback to the brain in response to stimuli. When we are not rigid in our responses we can train to become more flexible in our mind. When we have blockages in the mind or the body, using Asanas such as backbends are a way to find new ways serve us, and where fear is involved, to investigate the fears that limit or hold us back.
Backbends also assist the reproductive organs and help to cleanse the digestive system, stomach, colon, intestines and the prostate aiding in preventing disease.
Backbending also works with The Shushumna Nadi line – the channel that allows energy to flow from the base of the spine – up the central channel of the body toward the crown of the head. With regards to Nadi shoma we can view backbends as a way of cleansing out the Shushumna channel and potentially any old patterns that exist within the central nervous system.
A healthy, regular backbending practice removes blockages along the spine allowing energy to flow more freely within the body.
Be mindful of how to avoid injury.
Of course, as with any Asana, be aware not to push past your edge in backbends. Injury is a definite possibility and if new to backbending in Yoga practice, work with an experienced Yoga teacher who understands the anatomy of safe backbends to ensure you do not compress the spine. Ensure your teacher is someone who makes you feel safe and who can offer modifications, props and hands on adjustments.
Be sure to warm the body efficiently before attempting back bending. Intermediate to advanced backbends are always the peak Asana in my classes allowing time to build up to them. Do not jump into a backbend cold and always use twisting to neutralize the spine post back bending.
Entry level backbends such as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing dog), Cobra and Ustrasana ( camel Pose) are a good place to start.
Q: have you encountered fears, mental blocks during back bending?
Do you enjoy backbends or find them intimidating?
I love to hear your feedback, so please share your thoughts. Thank you for reading!
Request a backbending themed class with Angela on Muuyu.com
Australian-born Angela Collins is a yoga teacher based in Berlin. RYS Certified, trained in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and a graduate of Advanced Teacher Training in Forrest Yoga, Angela is committed to nourishing mind and body both off and on the mat. She has had the privilege of teaching Yoga across the globe in Australia, Thailand, Germany, UK, France and with people of all differing ages, nationalities, and needs. Having trained alongside Mark Stephens, Kathryn Budig, Kino McGregor and Ana. T Forrest, Angela now teaches a number of different Yoga disciplines including Pregnancy Yoga, Yoga for Addicts, Yoga for Athletes, and child Yoga.
If you liked this you might also like the below posts. Just click on the pictures to go straight to the article.