Opening the heart with backbends
With Valentine’s Day appearing middle of the month, February is all about love. Often when we think of love, we think of our love for others, or their love for us; we often forget about our love for ourselves. Indeed it is said that until you have learnt to truly love the self, you will not be able to truly love others.
Yoga provides us with a fantastic opportunity to connect, or indeed reconnect with our heart, with ourselves then, and enhance our ability to truly love both the self and others. This can be scary of course, the heart is a powerful thing, but essentially, love is all there is, and the more we can do to tap into this wonderful energy, the happier this planet will be.
Practicing backbends has always been a source of much joy to me as they help to release trapped emotions thereby liberating the heart space and increasing one’s sense of lightness and freedom in body, mind and spirit. They can help to increase our sensitivity to our deeper feelings and therefore enhance the connection to our true self, which knows only love.
On a physical level backbends require the greatest stamina of any group of Yoga poses and are unsurpassed in creating both exceptional flexibility and stability. Backbends open the upper back, chest, shoulders and front groins. They lengthen the muscles in the abdomen, tone and massage the abdominal and pelvic organs and strengthen the muscles supporting the spine.
The pose I have chosen for February is Urdvha Dhanurasa (upward bow pose). Like many of the backbends this is a challenging posture requiring us to be courageous and strong trusting in our own divine power within. For me it makes me feel truly alive and free.
Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
- Increases flexibility and range of motion in the spine;
- Strengthens the shoulders, arms, wrists, legs and spine;
- Opens the chest and shoulder girdle;
- Gives great vitality, energy and a feeling of lightness;
- Helps to remedy reproductive disorders in women;
- Helps to cure headaches and migraine;
- Beneficial for the nerves and the glands;
- Opens the heart and makes one feel alive.
- High blood pressure and glaucoma;
- Shoulder or wrist problems;
- Low back injury;
- Stomach ulcers and intestinal disorders;
- During illness.
Photography by Nick Despres, please see www.nickdespres.com