Backbends are exceptionally and uniquely beneficial yoga postures. This family of poses have impactful physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Understanding and practicing these poses can allow one to access these benefits and experience real-life breakthroughs and improvements to their well-being.
Here are the 6 best benefits of yoga backbends!
1. Get Happy!
Backbends bring strong emotional benefits. Iyengar and other yoga teachers recommend backbends as to cure for depression. These shapes have the potential to relieve heavy sadness, and you can see it in their form. When one is sad, their posture and body language is often hunched forwards, with their head hanging down. Backbends are the opposite, and reverse this pattern, giving an uplifting improvement to one's posture and a boost to their mood.
They encourage us to open up emotionally as well. There is nothing hidden about these shapes, and they can break down barriers we’ve put up to ensure no one sees our vulnerable side. Opening up to other people about who we truly are, and express our emotions honestly, allows for us to experience deeper connection in life, which improves one’s overall well-being. We connect to others from our heart, so backbends (also referred to as heart-openers) assist in having healthy, loving human connection.
2. Stretch the Entire Front Side of The Body.
Whereas forward bends open the entire back side of the body (legs, back, and neck), backbends give a powerful opening to the entire front side of the body (legs, torso, chest, & throat). No other family of postures give an opening to the front of the body as thoroughly and deeply as backbends do.
Opening the front of the body can improve overall posture. The quadriceps, hip flexors, and psoas muscles are some of our most utilized muscles, as they're active when we're walking or sitting. Backbends support keeping these muscles mobile, healthy, and strong. While the front of the body gets stretched deeply, backbends also strengthen the entire backside of the body at the same time, increasing their physical benefits.
3. They Boost Energy Levels!
Have you ever noticed an increase in energy after doing a backbend? You may have done a backbend, then experienced this rush of energy that invigorates your whole body just after. Your breath feels deeper, your sense of awareness sharpens, and you feel more alert. This is because backbends are stimulating and energizing. Because of their ability to increase our breathing ability and open up energy channels in the body, it’s believed they are the most potent form of yoga poses to give an increase in energy levels.
4. Excellent to Practice in Winter (because they create warmth).
Similar to when one is sad, people hunch forward in a closed and tight position when they are cold. Backbends naturally build heat in the body. Backbends increase one’s heart rate, and an increase in heart rate will cause the body to get warm. The more intense the backbend, the more heat that will be created, but they all create inner warmth.
Having already covered backbends' benefits in boosting mood and increasing energy levels, it’s easy to see why these poses are supportive during winter. It’s the time of year when one is more likely to feel a bit sad, lethargic, or cold and could use a good boost. Backbends give this natural boost in the winter time!
5. Counterpose for Poor Posture of Modern Life (computer, texting, driving).
If you work a job where you are sitting most of the time or work on a computer, there is a high likelihood that your posture is hunched forwards too often. Even if you don’t work at a computer, common modern tasks, such as texting or driving, use the same hunched forward position of the shoulders with the head protruded forwards. Over time, this greatly weakens one’s posture.
Backbends counteract this poor posture more effectively than other yoga poses, by reversing the direction of the spine to provide balance. Their effectiveness in opening the chest, lengthening the spine and upper back, and making one’s posture straighter, provide a remedy to the often poor postural habits of modern life!
6. Better Breathing.
Backbends open the chest, which is home to our lungs, our very crucial organs. Without our breath, we don’t have life. Backbends open the chest powerfully. When our chest opens, the tissues around our lungs open, allowing breath to flow through our lungs more deeply and easily. When we breathe deeper, more oxygen flows through the body, which can even improve heart and cognitive function.
By Keith Allen
Keith Allen is a teacher on YogaDownload.com and as well as Yoga Download's Content Director. His classes balance a meditative focus with safe alignment. He has studied extensively from different teachers, lineages, and styles around the world, and remains a passionate and dedicated student of yoga and meditation. He regularly leads workshops and teacher trainings internationally and is a co-author of The Yoga Fix book, which is a resource of healthy movement patterns and safe applicable yoga alignment. In addition to yoga, Keith is a media producer and helps bring high-quality content to life with YogaDownload.com. Aside from professional endeavors, he is passionate about traveling, producing videos, skiing, making art, and enjoying music. Enjoy his classes on YogaDownload.com, connect with him on at KeithJAllen.com, or follow him on Instagram.
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