Yoga and spine: posture of bending backwards (extension)

As well as the structure of our bodies is determined by the spine and health, much of the postures of yoga are designed to encourage or develop the activity throughout their journey. In this article we will focus on the movement towards the back of the spine, observing its details and characteristic postures. Writes Paul Rego.

If we take conscience that the spine is the axis of health and serenity We can establish the importance that has the job of mobilizing each vertebra and every area of the spine in the structure of a Yoga session.

The possible moves on the spine are: bending forward (available article "Forward bending posture") extension (or bending backwards), push-ups sides and twists. In addition, you can combine these movements making postures that contain, for example, a Flex and torque combined.

It is important to emphasize that each zone, of course, allows different degrees of mobility and it is for this reason that there are also different postures that emphasize flexion of a specific part of the column.

Bending backwards

The classical Hatha Yoga contains some typical extension positions that are determined by the direction of the movement and permanence that requires the position. "Asana as"the cobra" (bhujangasana) "the arc" (dhanurasana) "the Sun"(suryasana)"the camel"(ustrasana)"the fish" "(matsyasana) or"wheel"(chakrasana), provide the benefits that this movement provides the column in particular and the body in general."

Within disciplines such as Yogaterapia in which positions are considered more specifically as vehicles to regain lost mobility or the recovery of ailments, although its practice is very valid as training to keep health, there are intermediate or positions of medium and low demand that can be used in a normal session of Hatha Yoga or Yoga, but as applied specifically to the structure of a therapy session, provide the ability to run a column rigid or with little or very little mobility.

In this sense, asanas as "the Sphinx" (or low, ardha bhujangasana cobra) "the fish"different degrees of flexion or with legs bent and in all its variants, "the boat" (naukasana) which is done with the abdomen on the ground (in Integral Yoga"the pot"differs from"the boat"(navasana) makes on Ischia and coccyx and with outstretched arms and legs), average moderate stance and posture of"the camel"(arda ustrasana), supporting only one hand on the heel or both hands on hips, among many others, help to progress in the extension of the column concentrated incidence in specific areas and thus, bringing benefits to the whole practice," vertebral.

Caution in this type of movements

Before continue describing details of the posterior spinal flexion, it is very important to note that this is one of the phases of the movement that more care should be during the practice of yoga.

A little flexible backbone, which has its parched intervertebral discs, can react badly to first attempts at expansion, creating discal displacement or, in the worst cases, you hernias. For this reason It is recommended to always properly heating the body, especially the back and perform the first extensions very carefully and slowly, using average positions before the full positions.

Of course that the assistance of an instructor or experienced teacher easier to optimize care.

Effects of spinal extension

When we do a posture of bending backward occur several effects on different areas of the body and its structures, both superficial and deep and subtle. From the point of view of the physical body the consequences of immobility of the column are concentrated in the almost complete rigidity of its areas, and its periphery, ending with cover general shortening of the muscles of the body, including the arms and legs.

Therefore the practice of spinal extension will create, in the first instance, the movement of each vertebra and its environment, restoring health to the intervertebral discs that will lubricate and become more flexible as well as muscle fibers covering the vertebrae.

So the column can extend fully, beyond located around each vertebra, activation will require the flexibility of the muscular structure of the entire surface of the back, so when that spinal movement the muscles that usually remain upright back must stretch.

The same happens with the muscles of the abdominal and former area of the legs. It is very difficult to Flex deeply the body backwards without that to stretch the muscles that contain movement. Therefore, as we practice more deep or intense extension positions, we can go causing major stretches in the former area of the physical body.

Of all the movements that the backbone allows us to, the extension is one which is more easily lost and one of the most difficult to recover. The torsion and bending forward are movements that require a specific and detailed chapter. In the article "Forward bending posture" is treated the theme of that movement in particular.

"The basic concepts relating to the health of the physical body, organs and nervous system are explained in"Spine, axis of health and serenity"

In the yoga session

A yoga session can be organised to achieve different objectives. The work of the force in the limbs or spinal, chest or abdominal muscles must be the service of the health of the vital area which is the column.

Training is performed as activation of the metabolism, exercises cardiorespiratory as greetings and styles such as Ashtanga or Power always include an extension of the spine and stretching from the front stage, as everything else without that moment session it would lack the sense of balance that always seeks to Yoga.

The work of the movements on the spine must be always present and occupy a prominent space in practice. The realization of heating, flexions and extensions soft, intense and stretch movements must be combined and always be part of a full session of Hatha Yoga.

Paul Rego. Yoga teacher. Masajista-Terapeuta holistic. Diploma in medicine Ayurveda of India


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By • Jan 23, 2017 • section: Signatures