Bounty of Backbends Workshop Reflection
Last month I led the first live online workshop for doyogawithme.com and it was themed around the bounty of backbends. I spent a little over 2 hours with 15 incredibly keen yogis covering the anatomy of the spine, the 2 different kinds of backbends, and some skill building tips on how to expand their backbending practice in a safe and sustainable way.
This was such a rich experience as a teacher, especially as an online teacher who often does not get to have this in the moment live experiences with students. It reignited my passion for teaching workshops and being present for those incredible aha moments that lead to growth. The participants also seemed to love the ability to interact, ask questions, and to break things down in a way that facilitated some big steps forward. I am excited to share that we will be doing a great deal more of these workshops on a variety of topics, with a variety of teachers!
Here is a little sneak peak of some of the content that was covered during our workshop. These notes were taken by one of the participants, she is also a key member of the behind the scenes team here at dywm, Wynoah Cole:
→ The Spine
- The curves of our spine allow for movement like a slinky
- In general, the lordotic curves bend easier and have a tendency towards hypermobility, due to the vertebral shape and larger gaps between the spinous processes
- Kyphotic curves tend to have less mobility due to more bone on bone connection and connective tissue. Think: ribs limiting thoracic spine vs. lumbar spine being free to move.
| Segment | Length | Curve | Potential for Movement |
|Cervical |7 vertebrae| lordotic | higher |
|Thoracic |12 vertebrae| kyphotic | lower|
|Lumbar |5 vertebrae | lordotic |higher|
|Sacral | fused |kyphotic |lower/fused|
→ Releasing connective tissue takes:
- Heat → either internal (movement) or external (air temperature)
- Time → holding poses for 3 - 5 cycles of breath
Energetics of Backbending
→ Connected to Heart Chakra & Throat Chakra
Intention: balanced flow, expression
→ Be aware that backbending tends to “open the floodgates” of emotion
Support ourselves and our students by:
- Creating space for the emotions to fully cycle through the body
- Knowing it’s safe to cry, express ourselves
- Support others with space and loving glances
→ Our goal for safe and effective backbending is to bring neutrality to the spine by stabilizing where we are open:
- Cervical spine → engage shoulders, lift sternum, chin towards throat (jalandhara bandha)
- Lumbar spine → strong core muscles, subtle pelvic tilt
*After a backbending practice we should feel our core muscles
Types of backbends:
→ With gravity: camel, wheel, etc.
→ against gravity: bow, dancers, cobra, sphinx
*engage the opposing force