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The Benefits of Backbends and Twists


“Backbends are meant to help us understand the back parts of our bodies. The body can be seen with the eyes, but the back body can only be felt.” – B.K.S. Iyengar

“Backbends teach you how to counter the learned pattern of reaching forward rounding the shoulders and slumping. Backbends also increase flexibility in the upper spine, which for most of us becomes stiff and tight, causing pain across the shoulders. These patterns lead to further collapse of the front chest heart, and lungs. Backbends provide relief from compression in the heart space and open the front chest for improved breathing.” – Elise Miller*

Backbends such as Salabhasana (Locust pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose),Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) are examples of poses that can be modified for accessibility for various back challenges.


“As you move into twisting poses you’ll begin to de-rotate a scoliosis curvature of the spine in earnest. Twists help to loosen tight back muscles while their squeezing action detoxifies and energizes the spine. After releasing a twist, more blood circulates and soak into the back muscles and spine. Twists can help relieve digestive issues, washing the abdomen clean.” – Elise Miller*

Some twisting poses that may be modified for accessibility for those with back conditions are Bharadvajasana ( Twist of the Sage Bharadvaja Pose), Marichyasana (Twist of the Sage Marichi Pose), and Jathara Parivatanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose).

*from Yoga for Scoliosis: A Path for Students and Teachers, by Elise Miller

The Benefits of Backbends and Twists

by Elise Miller


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