3. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
- Start in a kneeling position with the feet hips distance wide.
- Press all five toes equally into the ground and take the inner thighs back (internal rotation).
- Place your hands on your sacrum and pull the sacrum down as you roll your shoulders back and lift the sternum.
- Keep the thighs active and in line with the hips throughout the entire pose.
- Lift your lower belly to protect the spine and slowly arch backwards, maintaining length in the lumbar spine as you extend.
- Keep length in the front body.
- Reach back for the heels.
- Lift the chest away from the sacrum and let the neck extend back maintaining as much length in the cervical spine as possible.
- If you have a neck injury, keep the chin tucked in towards the chest.
- Practice with your hands on blocks or on your sacrum instead of reaching for the heels.
4. Danurasana (Bow pose)
This backbend is the safest because you use the back muscles as you lift up against gravity.
- Lie on your belly and reach for the ankles with your hands.
- Roll the shoulders back and press the legs into the hands as you lift your legs and chest off the ground.
- Keep your knees in line with your hips as you continue to lift up.
5. Urdvah Danurasana (Wheel Pose)
This is an intermediate backbend and is best performed under the observation of an instructor.
- Lie on your back with your feet in line with the hips.
- Make sure the feet point straight ahead to prevent the knees from splaying out to the sides.
- Press the hands and feet into the ground to lift your body off the ground into a backbend.
- Spread the shoulder blades wide on your back as you move the sternum away from the hips.
- Roll the inner thighs down towards the floor as you move your hips away from your head, maintaining length in the lumbar spine.
- Lift the lower belly for the duration of the pose.
- To decrease the arch in the lower back you can place your feet on a chair or your hands on blocks in this pose.
- Place a belt around the center of your thighs and press out into the strap to help relieve low back discomfort.
Practice safety—your experience after backbends should be one of exhilaration, clarity and serenity.
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