Introduction to Backbends

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Yoga Poses in this Sequence

Cat Pose

Cat Pose

Cat Pose, or Marjaryasana, is one of the most commonly recognized yoga poses. The shape of the body resembles a stretching, arching cat. This pose is usually done as a partner to Cow Pose, as Cat Pose has the back high while Cow Pose has the back low.

Cow Pose

Cow Pose

Cow Pose, or Bitlasana, is a floor pose which is traditionally paired with Cat Pose. They are the mirrors of each other. Cow Pose shouldn’t be confused with Cow Face Pose. In Cow Face Pose, the legs and arms are all twisted together. In Cow Pose, you are simply on your hands and knees, your dangling abdomen representing the udder of a cow

Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana, is a floor pose which gently stretches and flexes the body. Its head-up position is reminiscent of a cobra rising up off the ground. It brings flexibility and strength.

Sphinx Pose

Sphinx Pose

Sphinx Pose is a variation of a Cobra backbend. In fact, its Sanskrit name translates to Supported Cobra Pose (“Salamba-” meaning with support, “-bhujanga” meaning snake or serpent). It’s a lovely alternative to deeper Cobra variations or Upward Facing Dog Pose for those who don’t want to load their lower spine too much.

Low Lunge Pose

Low Lunge Pose

The Low Lunge Pose, or Anjaneyasana, is a backbend which positively affects practically the entire body. It opens the hips and stretches the muscles of almost every body area: the legs, the back, the core, the shoulders and the arms. It demands well-developed balance and focus hence trains one’s consciousness and awareness. Furthermore, being a Pitta and Manipura Chakra stimulant, it energizes and motivates to take action.

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog is a name directly translated from Sanskrit (urdhva meaning up or upwards, mukha meaning face, svana or shvana meaning dog) and is referring to a stretch often observed in dog’s behaviour. In yoga, it’s often used as a deeper progression from Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) and sequenced as part of Sun Salutations.

Lord of the Fishes Pose

Lord of the Fishes Pose

The Lord of the Fishes Pose, or Matsyendrasana, offers a great spinal twist while massaging the abdominal organs, improving their function. It actively lengthens the tailbone, stretches the hips and engages the muscles of the core and the back at the same time. Demanding great balance, it also brings peace to the mind and has a soothing effect on the nervous system.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose

Eka pada rajakapotasana, also known as Pigeon Pose or one-legged Pigeon Pose, offers an enjoyable backbend that stretches and strengthens key muscle groups in the body including the back, core, hips and legs. A seated pose, Pigeon Pose has many benefits including breath work and relieving Sciatica.

Happy Baby Pose

Happy Baby Pose

The Happy Baby Pose, or Ananda Balasana is a wonderful opportunity to give your back a proper, deep massage it has always needed. It relaxes the whole body and has a positive calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety. At the same time, muscles of the main body parts are being actively stretched and engaged.

Plow Pose

Plow Pose

Plow Pose, or Halasana, is a nerve-calming pose that releases tension from the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is usually performed at the end of the yoga session to prepare for Corpse Pose and meditation. Halasana is a great pose to stretch your spine and shoulders, manipulate the digestive organs, and decrease anxiety and stress. Overall, Plow Pose is a fantastic pose to practice for amateur and professional yoga users.

Supported Shoulderstand

Supported Shoulderstand

Supported Shoulderstand is a fairly accessible yet challenging inversion that brings the weight into the shoulders, neck and the back of the head. It creates a flexion movement in the upper spine while simultaneously firming and strengthening the lower part of the body.

Corpse Pose

Corpse Pose

Corpse Pose, or Savasana, is one of the simplest poses in the entire yoga repertoire. You simply lie on your back. But within that is a wealth of power. Interestingly, while many yoga teachers love to use Western names for most poses as they are easier to remember, many also use the Sanskrit name Savasana for this particular pose because they find the name “Corpse Pose” to be off-putting for Western audiences. The pose’s alternate name, Mrtasana, means “Death Pose” which is not much better. So Savasana it is.

Wayne Lehrer

Wayne has been practicing Yoga for 40 years and teaching for 20 He’s studied extensively, in the U.S. and in India and personally led hundreds of people through 18 teacher trainings. He currently leads workshops and retreats in yoga, mindfulness, Authentic Happiness and Enlightened Aging in the U.S., China and India. He has developed his Authentic Happiness seminar into a high school curriculum that is currently offered to seniors to prepare them for a balanced and purposeful life. Wayne has written a book, The Prodigy Within: The Quest to Discover Your Life’s Purpose that has serves as the basis of numerous retreats and seminars and is currently being developed into an online course.

In addition Wayne ...