5 Backbending Tips - In Acronym Form!
B.A.N.G.S. - B(reathe) A(bdominals) N(eck) G(lutes) S(houlders)
Read on for five pointers that have helped me approach a back-bend like a responsible adult (!) with more satya (truth) and ahimsa (non-violence).
Here’s an acronym to help: B(reathe) A(bdominals) N(eck) G(lutes) S(houlders)
1. Breathe! To me, this is a “Golden Rule” of the yoga practice: If you’re in any pose (or life situation) that prevents you from breathing easily then readjust so that you can. This might mean coming out of the back-bend a little until you find more space in the spine, lungs, and diaphragm.
2. Abdominals – keep them engaged. We have the tendency to dump and release the front side of the body when back-bending. While thoroughly stretching the front body is a major bonus in back-bends, try gently drawing the navel towards the spine and engaging the deeper muscles of the front body without gripping. You will still get the glorious stretch but will take some of the strain out of your lower back in the meantime.
3. Neck – lengthen through the back and sides not just the front. Instead of compressing the vertebrae at the back of the neck, feel energy growing out through the crown of your head. Imagine someone is gently pulling you up by your ears.
4. Glutes – release them. With practice you can begin to isolate and let go of the tension in the glutes. This release frees up the sacrum and lower back. This will also prevent external rotation in your thighs which will keep your knees and ankles safely aligned.
5. Shoulders – Float them away from the ears. We tend to shrug our shoulders when back bending. Exhale the shoulders away from your ears without pushing down on them from the top. Instead, gently initiate the movement from the base of your shoulder blades.