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Release your lower back after your backbend.
Pushing up into a backbend, or full wheel as it is called in yoga, may be the biggest challenge of the pose, but it is not necessarily the most important. The recovery phase of backbends, which includes neutralizing your spine and performing counterposes, serves to stabilize and balance your muscles. Performing these aspects of the pose can help you avoid injuries, especially in your lower back. Plus, the calming counterposes help you to relax and prepare for the next phase of your yoga practice.1.
Release the backbend carefully and slowly. Form is just as important during the release phase of full wheel as it is in the execution of the pose. Bend your arms and legs simultaneously while maintaining the engagement of your core. Keep your legs in line with your hips and avoid turning your knees out to the sides. Rotate your shoulders externally to keep your elbows pointed toward your body. Tuck your chin toward your chest and, in a gradual motion, lower your glutes toward the floor.
Allow your spine to stabilize as soon as you come out of the backbend. Perform an active rest; lie on your back on your yoga mat with your legs spread to the width of your mat for five to 10 breaths.3.
Practice the windshield wiper exercise to assist the neutralizing of your spine. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, separated by the width of your yoga mat. Drop both knees to the left while keeping your pelvis and upper body stationary. Hold for three breaths and then lift your knees back to the starting position. Drop both knees to the right and hold for three breaths. Continue this pattern for five to 10 rounds.4.
Stay present during the neutralizing phase rather than allowing your mind to wander. Focus on your breath as your spine stabilizes; breathe in and out through your nose for a count of five in each direction.5.
Perform bound angle pose, which is a backbend counterpose, to move your body in the opposite direction of the backbend. Counterposes help to balance the muscles used in a pose; bound angle pose assists in strengthening and releasing the lower back after a backbend. Sit tall on a yoga mat; place a yoga block or blanket under your buttocks if your hips are tight. Extend your legs in front of you. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together in front of your pelvis with your knees out to your sides. Clasp your hands around your feet and bend forward, bringing your torso toward your feet as far as you are comfortably able. Hold the pose for one to five minutes, slowly breathing in and out through your nose.
- Yoga mat
- Yoga block
- Think of your bound angle counterpose as the end of your backbend cycle, with every pose and step along the way having equal importance. Focus on your form all the way through to the end.
- Tell your yoga teacher if you have had any injuries that may affect your backbend practice; modify the pose and counterpose for safety as your teacher instructs.
- Consult with a physician before starting a yoga or new fitness program.