Backbend with Pincha Mayurasana and the Wall

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My New Year’s Resolution for 2013 was to open my heart and become a pain free, happy backbender.  So months later, I am still committed and coming up with new ways to make that happen and take that “crunching” out of my low back.

This is one of my good morning backbends for my thoracic or middle spine!  Grounding through my feet and arms helps me move the backbend to my middle back and s-t-r-e-t-c-h and breathe pain free!

I received a couple requests on how to get into this modification of pincha mayurasana.  If pincha is not already in your regular practice, then this is definitely not the heart opener for you.  The great thing about yoga is the personal responsibility you take on in knowing what you should and should not try.  Please seek additional help before trying any pose if you have any questions or concerns.

What you will need:  (1) A strong pincha mayurasana and (2) wall space

I begin with several sequences of surya namaskar A, B, and/or C and take extra breaths in bhujangasana and/or urdhva mukha svanasana (cobra and/or updog).

I continue to open up the front body with anjaneyasana B (crescent B) focusing on the upper back and psoas.

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Be sure to anchor the back foot encouraging the back hip forward to square the pelvis to the front of the mat.  Draw your lower abdomen in and up towards your ribcage (uddiyana bandha) while drawing your lower ribs toward your front hip points to engage your upper abdomen.  This engagement of the solar plexus will take the backbend out of the lower back and draw it towards the upper back.  Let those shoulders draw into their sockets as your draw those shoulder blades down the back.  I like to open up my arms to cactus arms (or some call it goal post arms) and allow my hands, chest, and gaze to go towards the ceiling.

I then spend some time in anahatasana, puppy pose, to focus on not only the upper back but also the front body and shoulders.

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My hips are stacked over my knees as I walk my hands forward and sink my chest towards the floor either allowing my head or chin to rest on the floor.  My arms are still engaged as if I were in downdog.  I pull the breath from my abdomen into my chest allowing my shoulder blades to go down my back creating space between my ears and shoulders.  I take the backbend out of my lumbar spine by engaging my bottom ribs to my hip bones or pelvis.  Again focusing on the upper back and opening the front body.

I then work on dolphin on the floor and standing against the wall.  Opening the front body is the focus as opposed to building strength.  When doing dolphin on the floor, I sometimes interlace my fingers to relax into the stretch a little more.  One of my favorites is placing my forearms on the wall in dolphin to allow gravity to open the front body gradually.

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I am always aware to bring the shoulder blades down the back and engage the solar plexus by drawing those bottom ribs towards the pelvis.  From the picture of dolphin against the wall, it is evident that I need more engagement of the ribs towards the front hip points :)  Please be cognisant of this in your own practice.  And, of course, uddiuyana bandha is always engaged as your draw that lower abdomen in and up towards your ribcage.  The elbows and the forearms are shoulder width apart.

If any additional back bending is desired, I recommend bridge or upward bow.

I then set up my hand placement by getting into dandasana with my feet flexed against the wall.

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Noting the length of your legs is key, so you don’t end up missing the wall as you bring yourself into pincha and allow those legs to go to the wall.  So as a rule of thumb, do not let your hands go any further from the wall than they are when they are next to your hips in dandasana.  If you want to be safe, simply bring your hands a little closer towards the wall to gauge the distance the first time.

Once you have your hand position, bring yourself into your pincha and allow the legs to come to the wall.

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I ground down through my arms as well as my feet to take the “crunching” out of the low back and bring the back bend into the thoracic or middle spine and open the front body safely.

Feet:  Sits bones distance apart, grounding down equally through all corners, lifting the arches.  If you need to, pick up all 10 toes to find your arches

Legs:  Engage the quads to lift the knee caps, internally rotate the thighs.  Legs do not need to fully extend.

Sits bones/tailbone:  draw the sits bones towards your heals

Glutes:  relax!

Abdomen:  draw lower abdomen in and up towards your heart and VERY important to engage the upper abdomen to bring the lower ribs not only towards those front hip points but also towards each other.  This takes the “crunching” out of the low back for me.

Shoulders:  shoulder blades down the back and shoulders in their sockets relaxing through the neck.  Lots of space between those ears and shoulders!

Arms:  elbows and forearms are shoulder width apart.  Sometimes it is nice to place a block between your hands to encourage them to stay should width apart.

Feel some ease as your open up your back pain-free!!!!!

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