Since my back injury in January, I’ve had to retrain my back muscles slowly and securely. For me, back bending has always been a way to distress as I feel it resets my response to stress – sounds bizarre, I know.
When backbending, you open up the chest and thorax and ultimately test the flexibility of the back. Along with this, you are exercising the core, quads and glutes, so it is a very advanced position for yogis.
To make sure you are training correctly, it’s important to listen to your body and be able to differentiate between muscular strain, joint pain and emotional intensity. As you begin to bend into the position, you are putting a lot of pressure on the lower part of your back (especially with an unsupported Ustrasana)!
After my injury, I know that I was very conscious not to cause any unnecessary and uncomfortable stimulation, which might trigger back spasms or flare ups. A part of my retraining was therefore retraining the mind and acknowledging my limitations.
As always, deep breaths are a vital way to keep a clear mind and help you focus any uncomfortable bodily sensations, like pains and strains. It also allows you to focus on any emotional sensations, such as fear of elation.
The Ustrasana can be a physically challenging pose and, of course, the unsupported Ustrasana is for more advanced practitioners but with both supported and unsupported Ustrasana, it’s important to listen to your body, not force your body, and begin practice with a good warm up.
Benefits of the Ustrasana pose
- Increases spine flexibility (the spine is suppose to move in two directions so it’s important to bend backwards too)
- Strengthens the core muscles and muscles in the lower back
- Improves circulation and digestion
- Anxiety and stress relief
- Ustrasana links to your heart chakra, the chakra responsible for love and compassion. Opening the heart allows energy to flow freely