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The Ardha Anuvittasana (Standing Bback Bend) Pose

Ever go on a holiday and just walk so much? Either from all the shopping or sightseeing, and get home to sore backs from standing for long? Yes that is me right now. I have been taking in the beautiful city of Dakar while working on the biennale pre and post production. Let me tell you it is fun, but takes a huge toll on the back! The Ardha Anuvittasana pose is one that we do instinctively when we roll out of bed or just stretch after a long day at work. Now, it does sound, and maybe in the picture, look like a lot but it really is easy. Plus, for every yoga pose, there’s a variation that works for every level.

Benefits of The Ardha Anuvittasana

Physical benefits

Backbends are invigorating and strengthening. They stretch the back muscles, hip flexors and help open up the shoulders and chest, which are areas a lot of us hold tension.  They build strength and power in the legs, core and arms. By increasing mobility and awareness of the spine, backbends improve posture and can help to alleviate some kinds of back and neck pain.

Psychological / energetic benefits

As backbends open the chest and upper body they stimulate the heart chakra (Anahata) this allows us to open more fully in our lives too; to our emotions, experiences and in our relationships and release stored emotions such as frustration, fear, anger, sadness as well as joy and love, so it’s not unusual to feel some of this again as it works through your body.

How to do the ‘Standing Back Bend’

Begin by standing at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose with your feet hip-distance apart. Engage all of the muscles in your legs, focus on drawing your knee caps up. Keep your tailbone tucked under, belly drawn in, and heart forward. Release the tension in your shoulders and stand tall, reaching up through the crown of your head.

Place the palms of your hands on your lower back, with your fingers pointing towards the ground, as you draw your elbows together. Take and inhale as you lift up tall through the crown of your head and focus on drawing your belly in, keeping your core strong.

Exhale to arch your spine back, only go as far as you feel comfortable for your body. You can keep your neck in line with your spine, looking forward, or drop your head all the way back. Remain here for three to five breaths. Focus on opening your heart as you deepen your backbend. Remember to keep your abs engaged and continue lengthening your spine.

When you are ready to exit the pose, inhale as you slowly return to Mountain Pose, stacking your spine one vertebrae at a time. Use your palms on your back and your core to support you.

Note: Take care if you have had back or spine injuries always confirm from your doctor before your practice. Also do not do this asana if you have a migraine or headache or suffer dizziness.

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