One of the most energising, reinvigorating and stimulating positions in yoga and stretching is the BACK BEND (also known as wheel pose). Back bending is an excellent way to refresh and recharge your energy levels and stimulate your body systems without any extreme stimulants!
When you think about it, we spend huge portions of our day bending or hunching forward; eating, sitting, cleaning, working, studying, watching TV, and the list goes on!
If we bend forward for extended periods of time we begin to expose our body to extra pressure and stress. Prolonged forward bending has been shown to drain your energy levels, restrict your organ function (especially your lungs, kidneys and digestion), cause long lasting poor posture, and even be a major factor in chronic pain (back, neck, and headaches/migranes).
The benefits of back bends include:
- Preventing poor posture and realigning the spine
- Improving nerve fuction
- Stimulating more healthy blood flow around your body
- Promoting healthy joints and bones
- Relief of pain
- Stimulating digestion and promoting healthy organ function
- Increasing your metabolism and energy levels
- Releasing 'feel good' hormones
HERE ARE TWO LEVELS OF BACK BENDS YOU CAN TRY:
LEVEL ONE: COBRA (warm up & beginner)
- Lay on your belly with hands under your shoulders
- Squeeze your bottom to support your lower back
- Press up through your hands, relax your shoulders down (lengthen your neck), and open your chest
- Slowly begin to look up, guiding your head back to where is comfortable (remember to breathe!)
LEVEL TWO: WHEEL (BACK BEND or BRIDGE - advanced)
- Lay face up, bend your knees (feet flat on the ground)
- Place your hands flat on the ground next to your ears (fingers point towards your feet)
- Push into the ground equally with your feet and hands until you can rest on the top of your head
- Another strong push until you have reached your full wheel (back bend)
- Aim your belly to the sky, keep breathing and relaxing into the stretch
- TO COME DOWN always tuck your chin to your chest (look at your belly), then slowly lower down
*This is an advanced posture so remember to take it at your own pace, Do Not rush! Only attempt if you feel confident and ready, and remember this posture will become easier the more you practise.
Hold each stretch for at least 10 long, slow breaths. With any back bend, counteract this big stretch by curling into a little ball and giving yourself a big hug. Or finish with child's pose :)
Happy back bending!