Question of the Month: I don’t like practicing backbends. How important is it that I incorporate them into my practice?

Backbends are an important part of any yoga practice. We don’t bend backwards in our daily lives; it feels much more natural to bend forward (bending to tie shoes or pick things up from the floor, etc). As we age our spines become more rigid and begin to round forward. The regular practice of backbends will free the spine from built up tension and rigidity. Backbends open the hips, strengthen and stretch the legs and lower back muscles. They help the body gain more flexibility, align the spine, and build muscle tone. Along with flexibility and muscle tone, backbends also stimulate the abdomen, kidneys, reproductive and digestive system.

B.K.S. Iyengar uses backbends to cure depression in his students and as a holistic alternative for heart patients. According to Sr. Iyengar Teacher, Father Joseph Pereira, BKS Iyengar suffered more than one heart attack 30 years ago. Rather than have heart surgery he remained in his practice room, on a setu-bandha bench, for several days to “clear blockages in his heart”. (Fr. Joe talked about this during his workshop last September in Nova Scotia.)

In the Astadala Yogamala, Volume 8. B.K.S. Iyengar discusses how backbends massage the heart in a way that running and jogging cannot. Backbends increase the amount of blood circulating to the heart muscles without irritating or making the heart pump faster, and without the tremendous movement of the body used in running or jogging.
References: Yoga for Inner Strength, J Chapmam; Astadala Yogamala, Volume 8, BKS Iyengar; Light on Yoga, BKS Iyengar.

Instructional Back bending videos

Beginners: Urdhva Dhanurasana Instructional Series 1 & 2

Beginners-Intermediates: Urdhva Dhanurasana Instructional Series 3 & 4

About EssentialYoga Studio

Roberta Dell'Anno E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga for Scoliosis Trainer Owner EssentialYoga Studio. Roberta has been practicing yoga since 1988 and teaching yoga since 2004. She has studied extensively under master yoga teachers Patricia Walden, Zoë Stewart, Sri Arun H.S., Elise Browning Miller, and others. She completed a two year Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training program with Sr. Iyengar Teacher, Peentz Dubble in June 2017. Roberta has studied yoga at the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Memorial Institute in Pune, India during June 2011, February 2014, attended Abhijata's 2-week intensive in Pune, India, December 2016 and BKS Iyengar's Centenary 10-day intensive taught by Prashantji & Geetaji, December 2018. She completed training and certification with Elise Browning Miller as a 'Yoga for Scoliosis' instructor in 2014, completed a 500 hour Hatha Yoga Certification program with AURA Wellness Center in 2005 and is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500. She has been a Certified Meditation Teacher since June 2007 and an Usui Reiki Practitioner since 1989. The studio provides individual & specialized privates, semi-privates, group private sessions, and yoga workshops. Roberta conducts local and out of town workshops. She specializes in yoga for scoliosis and back care. She uses props to help students and teachers of all levels transform their backbends, twists, standing and seated postures, as well as inversions like sarvangasana (shoulderstand). She also works with individuals who have physical challenges, specifically individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, CMT, Parkinson's Disease, scoliosis, and amputees in private, semi-private and group sessions.​​​
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