Type : Inversion
Justification : backward bend
Complimentary posture : Twists in a chair, supine or seated. Upward Bow Pose, Headstand
Physical Benefits : Increases spinal flexibility. Alleviates lower back pain. Relieves abdominal cramps, indigestion and diarrhea. Reduces pain in the back, shoulders, and neck . Opens the chest and heart region. Relaxes the brain and soothes a restless mind. Inhances concentration and focus. Strengthens the core ans well as endurance and balance. Inceases lung capacity and better respiration.
· Therapeutic Benefits : Establishes emotional stability and self-confidence. Stimulates the thyroid, adrenal, pituitary and pineal glands. Prevents arterial blockage by strengthening the heart. Corrects displaced bladder and collapsed uterus.
· Limitations : If you have backache, preface this posture by doing a series of spinal twists before AND after practicing for release in the back. To be avoided if you have back, cervical, shoulder or wrist injury. Also to be avoided if you have stress-related headaches, migraine, dizziness, eye-strain, insomnia or constipation. Not advised for pregnant women.
· How To Practice :
Fold a mat into four and place on the seat of an opened-back chair that preferably has an opened underneath with a bar across the back (a yoga chair would be optimum). Place two bricks sideways against the wall just in front of the chair. Adjust the chair so that the back is facing a wall, say 18-25 cm away. If your floor isn’t very slippery, unfold a blanket and place the chair on it so that you can esily make it slide away from the wall once in the posture. Sit on the chair backwards and thread both legs through the chair back. Grab a belt and make a loop and thread the legs throught it so that the belt is strapped around the top part of the thighs. Tighten the belt around the top thighs leaving the buckle away from the skin. As you do this rotate the two thighs inward to expand the lower back and the posterior groins. This is important in order to protect the lumber spine. Now, with both legs bent, feet on the ground- hold the chair back with both hands and start to slide the buttocks towards the feet so that you can catch the sacro-iliac joints just inside the chair bottom and still contain the points of the shoulder-blades at the other end (where your bra-strap hits). Take your time to adjust and snuggle into this part as this is key to your comfort ! Now, with the help of your elbows, lower yourself down onto the chair seat and start to extend the legs pressing the heels firmly into the wall or bricks while pushing the chair slightly away. Keep holding the sides of the chair back with both hands and let the shoulders open and the head drop back. If this is painful for the cervicals, place a brick, bolster or several blankets under the head for support. Just take a few minutes to breath here. Let the breath relax you into this phase. After 1 or 2 minutes, Try to thread your arms underneath the chair bottom and clasp the bar at the back or if you can the two back chair legs keeping the shoulders as open as possible, palms faced to the ceiling . Abandon yourself even further into the posture and the backbend, letting the shoulders roll further open and opening the sternum and armpits towards the floor. Observe the lower back. Elongate the trunk as much as possible keeping the lower back as close to the chair seat as possible. Keep the tow thighs rolled into to each other and relax into the posture using your breath to go deeper into it. Breathe for 5-8 counts. This posture is extremely powerful and can provoke deep sensations. You are opening and exposing your heart : the seat of your emotions. If it becomes too intense, simply come back out of it. Once you are ready to come out of it, unthread your arms and grasp the sides of the chair back once again, bend your legs and place both feet on the ground. As you clasp the sides of the chair with both hands, press the elbows into the chair and leading with the sternum pull the torso towards the ceiling with the head following the sternum and chest last. Slide the buttocks back towards the front of the chair seat and straighten the arms over the chair back letting the armpits rest on the back and letting your head fall towards the knees. Breathe for 3-4 breaths. Release the belt from the thighs.
Sit in an upright position and with each foot touching the outside feet of the chair, arch your right arm around the back and grab the corner of the chair behind your left buttock. Clasp the chair back with the left hand and on the inhale extend the spinal cord upward and twist to the right on the exhale. Breathe for 2-3 breaths and come back to the center. Repeat on the left side and come back to center.
Unthread your legs from the chair to come completely out of the posture.
In order to protect the lumbar spin even more, you can place a brick between the thighs.
Remember to keep the coccyx rolled towards the knees in order to keep the lower back as close to the chair seat as possible. Keep the legs as straight as possible and the feet as flush to wall as possible as well.
Keep the neck, face, shoulders as relaxed. Use the breath to abandon yourself into the posture.