A question about backbends


Does anyone have any advice about backbends…? I really struggle with them. They don’t feel ~right~, even very gentle ones like cow pose or sphinx or low cobra feel like they’re way too much on my back. There’s not really pinching in my lower back. It’s more like suddenly I don’t have muscles, and all the pressure is going right on the bones in my spine.

For context, I did have physio for a while because I was too extended throughout my lower back muscles which limited my range of movement. I have made progress with this, though.

I followed this very helpful video (thank you!!), and when I did it this way my whole body was shaking like I was in a plank - even with my elbows still on the ground. So I guess my question is: is that the sensation I should be aiming for? and my second question is: are there any even more gentle alternatives to low cobra and other beginner back bends? Or, what is the best way to approach this if you’re really limited in movement? Or should I just leave them out altogether…?

Sorry if this is too vague - backbends are so completely unintuitive to me I don’t know where to begin with them!

Hi there.

You’re not alone. Many feel uncomfortable and even unsafe when doing backbends. It’s hard to know what to do and how it should feel when you’re doing them correctly.

The video you referenced built upon our series on core activation and stability that is the essential component to effective backbends. We will be posting a program on core stability and strength soon, but in the meantime, do these 3 classes in succession:

The 3-Part Breath and Ujjayi Breathing
Integrating the Breath and the Bandhas
Finding Stability In All Poses

Then you may want to do Beginner Backbends again and see if it makes more sense, if you feel more stable or you understand it differently. You’ll eventually feel in your body that the key is about feeling lightness in the spine, and that begins with understanding how to engage a specific group of stabilizing muscles.

I’d be happy to help you out with anything else so let me know how it goes.


Thank you so much for your reply. I will go through those videos and see if it helps - from a quick look I think they’ll be exactly what I need to start figuring it out. :slight_smile: