Backbends

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Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) View

                                                                           Lie on the belly with legs are stretched back, feet together, tops of feet on floor. Place the chin on mat, hands flat on mat underneath shoulders, elbows in. Inhale, straightening arms, bringing chest up and hold for 15-30 seconds. Release to mat with exhale. Keep movement slow with long, deep breaths.

Benefits: stretches the spine, massages the abdomin, reproductive organs, kidneys. Increases circulation. Opens heart and lungs.
Contraindications: back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, pregnancy

 

Locust Pose

Locust Pose (Shalabhasana) View


Lie on belly, arms along your sides, palms up. Forehead rests on mat. Turn big toes together, rotating thighs inward. Anchor pelvis to floor. Exhale lifting head, upper torso, arms, and legs up from mat. Raise arms parallel to the floor and reach back actively bringing shoulder blades together. Keep neck straight and long, gazing towards floor. Hold for several seconds, then release. Repeat x5.

Benefits: strengthens upper and lower back. Massages abdomen and reproductive organs.Contraindications: serious back injury, be careful to support neck or keep neck in neutral position if there is a neck injury.

 

Bow Pose

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) View


Lie on the belly with your hands by your side with your, palms up. Exhale and bend your knees and bring the feet towards the buttocks. Reach back and take hold of both ankles. The knees should only be hip distance apart, if possible.
Inhale, lifting the heels away from the buttocks and also lift your thighs up from the floor. Your head and upper will follow and lift off of the floor. Keep your back muscles soft. Continue to lift, press the shoulder blades together and open the chest. Draw the shoulders away from the ears. Gaze forward while breathing more into the back. Breathe here for about 20 seconds, release with an exhale and repeat one or two more times.

Benefits: Stretches ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen and chest, throat, and hips. Strengthens back muscles. Stimulates abdominal organs
Contraindications: High or low blood pressure, migraine headaches, low back or neck injury

 

Crescent Lunge

Low Lunge or Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana) View

From high lunge drop back (left) knee to mat. Place blanket under knee for more cushioning if needed for sensitive knees. Place right knee directly over right ankle. Bring hands onto right knee. Keep hips square, tailbone in and down, naval in and up. Inhale, raise arms above head, arms in line with ears. (You may wish to arch back and bring hands back while lifting the chest.) Exhale, deepen forward into lunge, bending into right knee. In this pose the knee can safely come forward front of the ankle since the body weight is supported by having back knee on the floor. Inhale, bring front knee back over ankle. Repeat on left.

Benefits: Improves balance, stretches hips and quadriceps
Contraindications: Be mindful and back off if there is knee pain, heart issues

 

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)”] View


Begin in tadasana. Step feet apart, taking a wide stance. Pivot left foot out about 45 degrees. Turn torso right, square hips, bend right knee, and pivot right foot out so it points ahead in alignment with knee. Bend knee forward until thigh is parallel to floor. Draw shoulder blades together and down. Reach arms above head, palms facing each other, lengthening spine. Gently arch back while gazing upward. To come out- lower hands while straightening front leg and push back into tadasana. Repeat on left side.

Benefits: improves balance, strengthens legs, back, arms. opens chest and shoulders
Contraindications: high blood pressure, heart problems, shoulder or neck injury

 

 

Reverse Warrior

Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana) View


Begin in warrior II (above). Bring rear hand down the back of rear leg. Reach front arm up ad back, next to your ear. Front knee bent directly over ankle. Reach rear hand further down, coming into a backbend, hips level as possible. Let the majority of your support come from your core rather than back hand on your leg. Gaze up to fingertips and relax shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 3-5 breaths and then switch sides.

Benefits: strengthens legs, stretches hip and sides of torso, improves the flexibility of the spine
Contraindications: neck, spinal or shoulder injuries. high or low blood pressure

 

Dancer Pose

Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana) View


Begin standing in tadasana. Shift weight to right leg. Bend left knee and grasp inside of left foot with left hand. Gently bring left foot and right arm up and torso forward. Balance, deepen the backbend. Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Fix your gaze on something still in front of you, to aid in balance.

Benefits: strengthens legs and core. improves balance, stretches shoulders and chest, strengthens the legs and ankles
Contraindications: low blood pressure

 

Full Camel

Camel Pose  (Ustrasana) View

                                                                                        Come up onto knees. Place padding under knees if they are sensitive. Curl toes under, lifting heels. Place hands on lower back, open chest and arch (gentle camel). If this feels comfortable, continue to half camel. Reach one hand upward, reach other hand back and grasp raised heel. Breathe 3-6 breaths and lift both hands up, raising torso up into high kneeling. Continue on other side. 

Full camel: Reach hands back towards heels one at a time. Grasp heels and bring hips forward over your knees. Release head back, opening your throat. To come out, bring hands up one at a time and lift torso up into high kneeling.
Feet can be flat on mat to deepen the back bend or try taking hold of opposite ankles.

Benefits: Stretches front of the body. Improves spinal flexibility.
Contraindications: high blood pressure, migraines, insomnia.
*This pose can cause back and neck injuries, so preparation and guidance from an experienced instructor is recommended.

 

Half Circle Pose

Half Circle Pose (Ardha Mandalasana) View


Begin in kneeling position, knees hip width apart. Step the right leg straight out to the side, foot flat on the floor, toes facing forward. Gently lower left hand to the floor, directly under shoulder. Inhale right arm up and over head, palm facing floor. Press hips forward, arch spine, and let the head drop back. Press left foot into floor, reach out through left fingers. Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths. To come out: Inhale, lift torso, bring arms parallel to floor. Exhale, hands to hips and step back into kneeling position. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits: Opens and stretches the whole side of the body from foot to fingers. Opens chest and hips, stimulates respiratory and nervous systems.
Contraindications: Hernia, arm, shoulder, knee or hip injury or pain.
Modification: For sensitive knees, place folded blanket under the bent knee.

 

Upward Bow or Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)Upward Bow or Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) View


Lie on your back with bent knees. Place feet flat on the mat (heels as close to buttocks as possible). Bend elbows and place palms flat on the mat above your shoulders, fingertips facing feet. Inhale, press into your palms, lift head and shoulders off mat and top of your head on the mat. Hands and feet are parallel. Stay here, or inhale and straighten your arms, lifting your head off the ground. Once in the pose, try to walk your hands and feet closer together. Hold pose here for five deep breaths, then slowly lower your body down to the mat. Counter this pose by hugging knees to chest to release lower back and roll up to a sitting position. This is a difficult pose and it may be useful to arch over the support of an exercise ball.

Benefits: Stretches chest and lungs, strengthens arms, wrists, legs, buttocks, abdomen, and spine. Stimulates thyroid and pituitary glands. Increases energy. Therapeutic for asthma, back pain, infertility, osteoporosis, and depression.
Contraindications: Back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome or other wrist injury, diarrhea, headache, heart problems, high or low blood pressure

 

 

kapotasana, king pigeon poseKing Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) View

 

 

 

Bridge Pose

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose) View