Benefits of a Backbend
Besides looking rad, backbends are one of the most crucial exercises for this day and age. As a pilates teacher, I am always aware of how everyday life is making us more hunchback (kyphotic) than ever. I am constantly reminding my clients, family and friends to straighten their posture, widen their color bone and pull their shoulders back. With technology and sedentary jobs folding us forward, it's almost impossible to remember to stand up straight. Beside weakening our backs, sitting all day and staring at screens tightens the entire front of our body adding to curvature of the cervical and upper thoracic spine.
The Backbend, my fellow Vibrant Beeters, is the exact inverted movement of what our body does all day in this virtual world. A backbend is a stretch for the entire front of the body from your neck all the way to your ankles. If you hold the backbend, it can also strengthen the entire back of the body.
The emotional release and internal benefits of a backbend is just as significant as the physical release. As you bend back you are opening and dimensionally expanding your diaphragm, letting oxygen flow fluidly into the body. Inhaling as you extend back is one of the hardest yet most important exercise you can do to increase oxygen into the lungs and the entire body. As you bend back you are also flushing out the kidneys, stretching your internal organs and relieving chronic back and neck pain.
Below are three backbend exercise you can do at home...
Lying on your back , feet hip-distance apart, walk your feet towards your bootie, so that you can grab your ankles. Interlace your fingers behind your back, rolling the shoulders back and widening your collarbone. Make sure that your feet are facing forward and your knees are in line with your second toe... look up at the sky. (hold for 1 minute)
On your knees, hip- distance apart, both feet should be in line with your knees. Reach both hands up to the ceiling, then bring the right hand back to touch the right heel. Look over that right shoulder. Bring that right arm back up to meet the left arm, and repeat on the left side. Once you do both sides, keep the right hand on the right ankle while bringing the left hand to meet the left ankle. If you feel comfortable, let your head release back and gaze at the wall behind you. If not, gaze softly at the ceiling. (hold for 20-30 seconds)
On your belly, separate your legs hip-distance apart. Push your public bone down into the floor. Bending both knees, kick your feet up to the sky, reach back and grab the outside of your ankles. Lift your chest and head off the ground, reaching your chest and head forward and up, while simultaneously reaching the legs up and back. (30-40 seconds)
Have fun, take your time and remember to breath deeply!