1. Counteract rounded shoulders
Do you sit in front of a computer all day or have a long commute? Do you notice that after sitting for a while, your shoulders start to slowly slump forward and your posture starts to sag? Backbends stretch the front of your chest and help you to draw your shoulders back and shoulder blades together, counteracting the shoulder slump.
2. Increase mobility of spine
We spend the majority of our day bending forward in one way or another – sitting, driving, texting, picking things up. But our spines are meant to be mobile. By practicing backbends, we can improve flexibility and balance the mobility of the spine.
3. Improves posture
When we bring awareness to and increase mobility of our spine, we start to bring our body into alignment. As a result, we start to stand taller and improve our posture. And better posture can help to alleviate some neck and back pain.
4. Boost your mood, relieve stress and wake you up
When I feel stressed or down (or start to get cranky and whiney), I often turn to backbends. It’s amazing what it can do. The action of opening your heart and stretching the whole front line of the body stimulates the nervous system, waking you up and improving your mood. It can be invigorating and that boost of energy can help to alleviate stress.
5. Opens the heart and the mind
When we feel vulnerable, our tendency is to curl inwards, to protect ourselves. Our shoulders round forward and we begin to slouch, almost as if we’re creating a protective field around our heart.
Backbends aren’t called heart openers for nothing. In a backbend, you are literally stretching the front of your chest and opening your heart, almost as if you’re cracking open the front of your chest. I know that it sounds a little kooky but it literally makes me feel more open and receptive to emotions, experiences, relationships and love. It may be because in these postures, we stimulate the heart chakra. This is one of the biggest benefits of practicing backbends for me.
Practicing Backbends Safely
There’s a lot going on in backbends. Of the three sections of the spine, the lumbar and cervical spine are the most mobile while the thoracic spine is the least mobile. In a backhanding practice, we need to stabilize both the lumbar and cervical region in order to mobilize the upper back.
It’s really important to warm-up well before practicing backbends including the following: