The most common questions I get regarding my yoga practice is how I got so flexible and if I always was this flexible. I get these questions especially when I post a new backbend photo.
In all honestly, before starting yoga I didn't consider any part of my body to be more flexible than the average person. Everything I can do now came with regular practice and i'm sure anyone else could do the same if they wanted to. At this point in time, I find my back to be the most flexible part of my body. I'm not saying I can get into some crazy back bends without even thinking about it but it's the part of me that increases flexibility the fastest and it has always been the easiest and most fun part for me to work on.
I wish I had all this amazing advice to give you but the truth is I've just been practicing regularly and I make sure I keep progressing over time. I don't have a special backbend routine I do everyday or do I know some secret to getting a flexible back in a short time. I've spent time to practice and really learn what works best for my back so I usually have no fear when it comes to learning new backbends.
So what backbending tips do I have?
Figure Out Your Body. I don't believe in a one size fits all practice. I've tried quite a few styles of yoga and just as I've said before, I do get bored of doing the same thing. So I do whatever feels right for that day, and I never shy away from a good backbend flow. I make a point to practice and try to progress in my backbends every 2-3 days so I don't lose what I've worked to achieve. And because of my love for backbends, It's hard to find me flowing without at least a couple of backbends. But this is the practice that works for my body, I can work on backbends for ages with no worry about getting sore or hurt. This will NOT work for everyone. Listen to your body, go slow and learn what it needs.
Warm Yourself Up. It's a pain but its the most important part of practicing. Whether you have a bendy back like I do or you're as stiff as a pose you MUST warm up. I admit at times I don't want to either but the difference it makes it worth it. I don't have any props for helping me but I would recommend getting a yoga wheel such as a Dharma Yoga Wheel as I've heard from friends that they are exceptional for helping with back bending and warming up your back for practice.
Find A Teacher. I know you might think "but you were self taught and you did fine". Honestly, I was lucky. There are too many ways you can hurt yourself and the best way to avoid that is to get a teacher who can really help you find the right alignment and balance in your practice. My practice has improved tremendously since I started going for classes 5 weeks ago and I know going to the right class with a teacher who can correct your mistakes and give you the advice would help more than learning on your own ever could.
Learn The Right Alignment. I know how much you might want to just get into that asana already. You want it so bad you just have to do it no matter what. But I promise it's not worth rushing yourself into what you think an asana is supposed to be when your alignment is all wrong! Really learn what each asana is meant to be, especially with backbends, doing it wrong could result in some serious injury which no one wants.
NO Aches and Pain. This is probably the biggest thing to remember. Your back should NEVER be in pain. If that happens, release from the asana and the best thing to do is to get advice on what you were doing wrong. Many times we aren't able to figure out the problem until someone else points it out. You might need to try an easier variation or a different asana altogether to prepare yourself for the full expression of the backbend.
Backbends are probably always going to stay my favourite thing to do during yoga. I have fun with it and I love back bending but I know that even if it is my favourite, it's only one part of yoga.
Starting 17th August you can join me and 2 other Instagram yogis @Brit_Labonte and @Finding.Elly as we host Backbend Into Nature, a challenge all about backbending! We'll share all the knowledge we have about backhanding and hope you learn and grow through this 2 weeks.
At the end of the challenge, there will be prizes to be won! If you want to find out more and join the challenge you can go to any of our Instagram pages and look for the challenge poster for more information! We hope to see you guys join in!
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