Did you know that your spine and back are supposed to move in 5 different ranges of motion; side to side (R & L), forwards, backwards and twisting?

Most people never really think about it until they suffer a bad back. If we don’t maintain the natural movements of the spine and body, we begin to lose the mobility and excess wear and tear can occur, resulting in the phrase ‘if we don’t bend, we break.’

So even a very simple set of yoga asanas that help to mobilise the spine in proper movements can be the start of a healthier back and body. In the Bikram series, the warmup Half Moon sequence is ideal. In hatha yoga or vinyasa styles of practice, the Sun Salutes also will work a treat to get the body and spine moving properly and warmed up for a full yoga class. The sequences might be challenging when you begin, but with a little effort, consistency (whatever you can manage, but make it a regular time & place), incorporating breath work; very quickly the benefits start to manifest, and you will begin to experience the overall health and wellness impact.

Key Tips for Better Backbends

· Apply breath to the movement, inhale to open an area and exhale to move deeper or release

· Warm-Up carefully – don’t push at the start, allow your breath to help you to move in the asana and still maintain the flow of the breath. So, if you are moving too quickly and holding your breath, then you need to back off a bit or slow down. You need to build up the heat in the body and the frequency of movement without causing too much strain.

· Be aware – take your mind to the area or areas of the back you are trying to move. Backbends are not just about bending back, but also stretching your front, so awareness of an area of movement is important and also helps with alignment.

· Working at your Level – try to stay at a level that you can handle, so if the sequence is too fast and you can’t keep up, then its ok to slow down or come out and then try to go back into the posture when you can resume proper breathing.

Physical Benefits of Back Bends

· Backbends are invigorating, stimulating and strengthening.

· They stretch the front of the body; quads and hip flexors and help open up the shoulders and chest, an area where lots of us hold tension and emotions.

· They build strength and power in the legs, arms and back muscles.

· Improve posture – by increasing mobility, awareness and alignment of the spine, backbends improve overall posture and can help to alleviate some kinds of back and neck pain.

Safety Note

If you have come to yoga with a serious back problem or pain, then please find an experienced teacher that can help you work safely within your capabilities to heal your back and progress your practice further.

Are you ready to take transform your practice? #GetYourSweatOn with Sam Magee in Canary Wharf

Wednesday – Bikram Yoga 17.15 – 18.45 BST

Thursday – Bikram Yoga 12.00 – 13.30 BST

Written By Sam Magee Senior BYL Teacher and Yogini and Author @yamarama6