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Baby Get Back! Part Two
Bending Over Backwards

Here are some Asanas that will help keep your healthy back in great shape:

Cow's Head (Gomukasana)
This is a wonderful pose for your upper back, shoulers and chest. If you can't clasp your hands behind your back, use a strap. Make sure you do both sides (and don't be surprised if one side is more flexible than the other - that's usually the way it is). If sitting in this particular cross-legged position is uncomfortable, keep working at gradually. But you might also just want to spend some time doing the upper half of this pose alone, so stand with your feet about 6 inches apart and clasp your hands behind your back (with or without strap) from there.

(Article continued below.)

Locust (Shalabhasana)
This is a nice backbend that most beginners can do. As your lower back and hamstrings become stronger, you will be able to stretch into it more fully.

Bow (Dhanurasana)
There are several variations of this Asana - those who are new to it may want to leave their legs on the ground and just raise their torso. There's also the Half Bow (it can also be done right arm-right leg and left arm-left leg). You can rock slowly back and forth while in Bow. When you get really good at it, you may be able to touch your toes to your head. This is a core posture for spine health.

Camel (Ushtrasana)
This really opens your chest and stretches your spine. It's also not too hard to do, although some people get a touch of vertigo the first time they try it. If bending backwards like this makes you a little nervous, have your teacher to spot you. Once you get used to it, this is a highly enjoyable pose.

Wheel (Chakrasana)
Once you've mastered the Bridge (described in Part One), this is the next step. While it's one of the more difficult poses to master, it's also one of the most rewarding - it's great for your spine, it strengthens your extremities, and blood flows to your brain, improving memory and making you feel alive... and those are just a few of its benefits. If your back's in good shape and you've gotten used to the other backbends, work on perfecting this one. Don't shy away from it, and ask your teacher to help you if you are nervous or unsure about your form.

Spinal twists are also important for spine health. In addition to Seated Side Twist (another posture you can find in Part One), there's the Revolved Abdominal Pose (Jathara Parivartanasana). This particular spinal twist will also strengthen your abdominal muscles. It's important to balance out work on your back by adding poses that benefit your abs. Some other good poses for your abdominal muscles - Plank and Boat - are mentioned in Part One.

Flexible hamstrings are also important for back health, so lengthen those muscles running along the backs of your legs with Leg Extensions (mentioned in Part One), Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) and the Powerful, or Noble Pose (Ugrasana).

Try a few of these poses - you don't have to jump in and do all of them in one session (in fact, you shouldn't - you need to balance your sessions with postures that benefit other parts of your body, too). Backbends, practiced on a regular basis, are the closest you can come to finding the fountain of youth. Your body is your most valuable asset - take care of it!

Previous page >> Keeping Your Back Healthy >> 1, 2

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