Combatting Winter Energy Slumps

In backbends, we come face-to-face with the boundaries of our flexibility, patience, and equanimity. But learning to practice within our limitations, instead of struggling against them can make back bending an exercise in self-acceptance.  Using the breath to control the depth and apex of a backbend offers an interesting encounter with self acceptance.

If I am feeling low and de-energised which can certainly happen with the onset of darker days and colder climes, I practice gentle back bends in conjunction with gentler still forward bending counter poses.  It is this combination that gives you a boost of energy – and helps to stimulate your immune function.

In the mornings, I have my daily greens before my Yoga practice “Gorgeous Greens”

Backbends for Winter Energy Slumps

 

If you push too hard or skip ahead to complex backbends without first learning the simple, foundational ones, like the back bend below, you run the risk of crunching your lower back, depleting your energy, or even stirring up anxiety.  In short, your backbends will not feel melodic or harmonious.

Bhujangasana – Cobra

bhujangasana-cobra-pose

 

This gentle back bend opens the heart and lungs, stimulates abdominal organs, and helps relieve stress and fatigue

Step by Step

Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders.

Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.

On an inhalation, draw the chest upwards. Imagine your upper chest is a sail that has just caught a gust of wind. As you inhale, that sail rises, broadens, and floats with ease. Maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Try not to harden the buttocks.

Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.

Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.

Contraindications and Cautions

Back injury

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Headache

Pregnancy

Beginner’s Tip

Don’t overdo the backbend. To find the height at which you can work comfortably and avoid straining your back, take your hands off the floor for a moment, so that the height you find will be through extension

Benefits

  • Strengthens the spine
  • Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Helps relieve stress and fatigue
  • Opens the heart and lungs
  • Soothes sciatica
  • Therapeutic for asthma

 

Following this very gentle back bend, you can practice the pose below

 

Balasana = Child Pose

balasana-childs-pose

 

Step by Step

Kneel on the floor. Bring your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.

Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.

Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor.

Balasana is a great resting pose, and you can stay here anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use Balasana to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs.

To come out of the pose, with an inhalation lift upper body from the tailbone.

Contraindications and Cautions

Diarrhea

Pregnancy

Knee injury

Modifications and Props

If you have difficulty sitting on your heels in this pose, place a thickly folded blanket between your back thighs and calves.

Beginner’s Tip

Balasana provides us with an excellent opportunity to breathe consciously and fully into the back of the torso.

Benefits

  • Gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue
  • Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported


Partnering

Have your partner place one hand on your sacrum (fingers pointing toward the tailbone) and the other hand on your mid-back (fingers pointing toward your head). As you exhale, your partner can press gently downwards. You can help your partner regulate the pressure on your back.

Variations

To increase the length of the torso, stretch your arms forward. Lift your buttocks just slightly away from your heels. Reach the arms longer while you draw the shoulder blades down the back. Then without moving the hands, sit the buttocks down on the heels again.

For more tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle, check out my new book, which is available on Amazon, and all leading bookstores, including Waterstones and Borders.

 

 

For your top tips on creating optimal health in the mind and body, read Chris James new book –‘Mind Body Cleanse’ by Chris James (Penguin Vermilion, £14.99). Available from Amazon.

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1 Comment
  • Sarah Sands
    Posted at 12:28h, 02 December Reply

    Love the piccie xxxx 🙂

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