Backbends are great to open up your chest, rib cage and shoulders. Here are five common backbends and how to do each pose. Hold each pose for five to six breaths.
1. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet in line with the hips.
- Make sure the toes point straight ahead and that the knees are directly above the ankles when you lift your buttocks.
- Press all four corners of the feet firmly into the ground and lift the outer hips up.
- Internally rotate the thighs so that the knees stay in line with the hips.
- Roll the shoulders under and clasp the hands or hold a strap.
- Press the outer shoulders and forearms into the ground to open the chest.
- Press the feet into the ground to lift the hips up.
- Relax the buttock muscles and use the thigh muscles (quads) to lift more.
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2. Bhujangasana ( Cobra Pose)
- Lie on your belly with the feet in line with the hips.(The classical version of this pose has the feet together, however taking the feet apart provides more space for the sacroiliac joint and is easier on the low back). Place the hands directly under the armpits and keep the elbows close to your waist.
- Press all five toes firmly into the ground, especially the pinky toe, which will help you maintain internal rotation in the thighs.
- Inhaling, pull the floor towards you with your palms and extend the spine as you lift up.
- Keep the shoulders away from the ears and squeeze the elbows into the waist tightly.
- Focus on lengthening the spine as you come up and absorbing the vertebrae into the body one level at a time.
If there is discomfort in the low back:
- Only come up a few inches off the ground.
- Keep the forehead on the ground and practice the actions of the pose in a neutral position.
More: 3 Steps to Do Cobra Pose