Joseph’s Tip #6: Backbends

I think deep down I knew that a backbending tip would be coming our way. But hey, at least it’s reasonable:

Do at least five backbends everyday.

Ok – I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of the backbend. Actually, that’s not true. I am a fan of the idea of backbends. I would love to be able to do wonderfully deep backbends. I imagine it feels fabulous.

I hate backbends because my back is soooo tight. I went to my PT last week, and told him I was seeing my massage therapist on the weekend. These guys are in cohoots. The PT called up my massage guy and told him how tight my back was and to make sure he worked on it. So backbending is one of those things that I need but is incredibly uncomfortable and miserable for me to do.

But backbends are good. I suppose.

Ok. They are. Joseph is right. We all know we should do them. Want to know why they are good for you? I found a great article you can read.

I also found something from Yoga Journal that says:

Chances are very good that if you are miserable in backbends, it’s not that you don’t value the benefits; it’s more likely that you have never truly experienced them.

So very, very true for me. I don’t think I have done them enough to fully enjoy the benefits of any discomfort I experience.

I do hope Joseph will have time to add a bit of commentary about the backbends. I suspect, based on spending all of one day with him, that when he says do five backbends a day what these backbends look like isn’t the issue. It’s doing them.

Of course I’m not saying do sloppy backbends. What I’m saying is I assume Joseph means do five backbends that are appropriately challenging and do them well. For me, that could be camel or bridge pose. I’m not rocking a wheel by any means.  And I am also guessing that they don’t have to be the same type of backbend (like five camels or five wall walks), but I am only guessing. However, it would be great to have Joseph’s thoughts about how those of us who are not currently loving the backbends might start (you know, Joseph, if you’re not doing anything….) 🙂

I like the recommendation for five though. Five is do-able. And yes, I know he said “at least five,” but for now, I’m thinking five.

I used to do backbends regularly everyday. I hated them (for the most part), but I did them. I started to like them a bit more over time. But then I slacked off on them. Why? I think I just got overwhelmed with everyone telling me to do X, Y, and Z so many times a day. But now that I’ve gotten things prioritized, I think I can add these back in.

How do you approach backbending? Are you a fan? What benefits have you noticed from practicing them regularly?

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. teenieyogini
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 20:26:21

    Ohhh. The backbend, ambivalence at its finest. As a kid my back was extremely open I’d lean back for full camel and my face would smash into my feet before my poor hands got a chance to catch up. Eventually, I developed a fear of these crashing backbends… Now I’m never sure if I have a tight spine or insane fear but it’s definitely not fun, although I remember adoring every backbend (there were days I went to class JUST to do full camel), and would love to locate that feeling again some time.


    • leighahall
      Jan 16, 2013 @ 12:16:49

      My back has never been open even as a kid! I had a class that was part learning to twirl a baton and part acrobatics. We were supposed to drop back and touch the floor with our hands. Never, ever got it. Of course, I never got any help in learning how to get any better at it either! Maybe I didn’t have the best teacher for backbends. I would love to locate a feeling of just mild enjoyment of them!


  2. Christa Provenzano
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 10:24:55

    I crave them! Since the competition ended however, I have reduced my back bends to about 10 a day and hold them longer now. ( rather than trying to get 30-50 in quickly) If you ‘d like Leigh, we can do some together on Thursdays! 🙂


  3. Simmm
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 10:32:52

    I like backbends, but I also stopped doing them daily. I tried it two separate times, and had to stop after only a few days both times.

    I’m not exactly sure what happened, but my shoulders were not pleased. Perhaps I was not warmed up enough when I was doing them.

    Also, my shoulders are insanely tight (hours of driving and desk work every day) and it takes constant work to keep them reasonably open. Then I get extremely nauseous during the process (after standing bow, balancing stick, triangle, etc.), so now I’m under the impression that I cannot expedite my process here, and just have to stick with the few backbends I get to do during class. Maybe a few more after class?


    • leighahall
      Jan 16, 2013 @ 12:19:33

      My shoulders are pretty tight too although my hips and back are far tighter. The myofacial massages I have been getting have helped with my shoulders as well as hips and back. I can get nauseous during camel, but not the postures you mentioned. That’s so interesting! I wonder what’s up with that? I bet you could start off with bridge pose. How do you feel when you do bridge?


      • Simmm
        Jan 16, 2013 @ 15:20:05

        Yes, it is definitely weird. One of my teachers said that it could be a nerve that is getting compressed/decompressed when I open my shoulders… I really don’t know though. It is definitely caused by my shoulders though, because when I slouch forward the nausea goes away. It’s only there when I open the front of my shoulders/upper chest area. I’ve also mused that perhaps it just elongates my heart and that is the problem?

        Bridge doesn’t really open that area, the opposite actually, it compresses it. Wheel would open it I think, but I don’t have enough arm strength to try 😀


  4. Trackback: Retro Throwback: Joseph’s Tip #6 – Backbends | My Bikram Yoga Life
  5. LeighAHall (@LeighAHall)
    Sep 18, 2014 @ 22:41:17

    Joseph’s Tip #6: Backbends #bikramyoga #yogaholicsmag


  6. LeighAHall (@LeighAHall)
    Feb 02, 2015 @ 19:37:06

    Joseph’s Tip #6: Backbends #bikramyoga #yogaholicsmag


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