A healthy lifestyle means making choices that promote physical, mental, and emotional health.
Why should you read my tips on back flexion preparations? Simple: because my twists are average at best. This means that, A) my backbends are probably similar to yours, and, B) since backbends are not easy for my body, I have been struggling to find effective ways to deal with these # @ #% postures. to get more than two decades.
Related: Andrea and Jason share their “easy” and “difficult” postures.
Here are four of my favorite unusual preparations. If you’ve done your homework, you know that the usual back flexion preparations include opening the hip and quad flexor, strengthening the back of the hip, and opening the shoulder. In addition to these basics, here are my four favorite preparations that we will not forget:
4 Unconventional Backbend Preparations
1. ORIENT YOUR EXTRACTED POINTS WITH LOW INTENSITY
This concept is simple: After doing all your standard back flexion preparations, spend more time focusing on the parts of your body that need more support. After all, your whole body is unlikely to need exactly the same amount of preparation. I always spend more time opening my hip flexors and upper back. When you do this, be gentle and resist the temptation to be harsh. Use a roller, blanket or chair, or any other support, to help release your tight spots. Remember to take your time and be patient with yourself.
2. STRENGTHEN YOUR SIDE BODY, ESPECIALLY THE SIDES
Opening the side body, especially the backs, is the most ignored unconventional preparation for back flexion. Because? Your bibs have a variety of functions, such as pulling your arms down and toward your body. Tight backs prevent the shoulders from moving at full flexion (the action of reaching the arms above the head). This means that creating more length or flexibility will help you reach your arms above your head more easily. This preparation is less important for back flexions where you reach the arms behind the body, such as the arch, bridge, and posture of the camel. But for back bends where you reach your arms above like a bow up, lengthening your back with side curves can make a significant difference.
A quick note: To orient your back more specifically in a side curve like the one pictured above, focus on bending your upper elbow toward the ceiling. This will help guide the section opening where it matters most.
3. FOCUS ON ENLARGING THE CIRCLE, NOT REDUCING IT:
This is a concept I use all the time, especially on harder back flexions like the Pigeon Pose II shown in the photo. The concept is to make a larger circle, not a smaller one. Here’s the offer: it seems like everyone, especially on social media, is determined to bring their hands and feet together in the back push-ups, thus making a “smaller circle”. In the case of Pigeon II, this means bringing your hands below the belt to your feet. This is fine when it comes to the final and deeper version of the backbend, but not when you are preparing! First, you want to do a few preparatory rounds of the same posture where you don’t go to your absolute edge. When you are there, let your body breathe and settle into shape without applying maximum stress.
So here are the takeaways:
1) Do several rounds of the same posture, especially when it is a harder posture. Interestingly, it seems that we only do this for Urdhva Dhanurasana (or full wheel).
2) In these rounds, do not bring your hands and feet as close as they will be in the final round. Keep the circle you are making a little bigger for a little longer. Let your body adapt and settle.
3) Finally, keep in mind that this larger circle, which gives you more space and comfort, can be as valuable as a smaller circle that offers you less.
4. OPENING THE HEART IS MORE THAN THE EYE:
Associating back flexion with “opening of the heart” obscures a key point: your heart, whether you’re talking about the literal organ or referring to your emotional landscape, is multidimensional. Physically, “opening the heart” refers almost exclusively to releasing tension in front of the heart region. However, this region is three-dimensional, so it is equally important to open the sides and back of the heart, especially when preparing for later push-ups.
On the surface, opening the back of the heart to prepare for back flexions seems contrary to intuition. But stretching the muscles between the shoulder blades is one of the most forgotten and effective preparations you can give your body. Yes, you should still focus on opening the front of your chest as you prepare for later push-ups, but don’t forget the unconventional process of releasing your upper back.
Here’s why: When you reach for your arms above your head in back flexions, your shoulder blades should rotate sideways. This means that the shoulder blades should be separated and raised (slightly). If the muscles that align the space between the shoulder blades are restricted, they will not be able to move enough. When your shoulder blades are restricted, you will have less flexion in your shoulders (movement of your arms above your head) and your back flexions will be drowned out.
In addition to opening the front of your shoulders and chest, incorporate counterintuitive shoulder openers like Garudasana’s arms (pictured here) into your back flexion preparations. Mobilizing the shoulder blades to rotate sideways will complement all the more common shoulder and heart openers that you are also doing. If you do, I’d love to know how you’re doing.