Shameem Akthar, a yoga acharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Kerala, leads you through five bends that'll have you feeling exuberant and stress-free.
Backbends are yogic shortcuts to joy. In depression therapy, backbends are advised since they open the chest. This repairs the shallow breathing that normally accompanies negative mind states, like anxiety, fear, sadness and anger.
The expanded lung capacity physiologically enhances our moods. Also by powering metabolism, backbends hike the body's nutrient absorption capacity. This in turn helps the body access key nutrients that are essential for our happiness: magnesium, calcium, vitamin B, etc.
The tension at the shoulder, again a psychosomatic response to stress, is released and relieved. The back of the neck and the upper back, regarded as the gateway to diseases in Chinese medicine and through which all the major energy meridians are said to pass, is strengthened.
In movement therapies, this region is also seen as most adversely hit by negative mind states. It is called the primary fear centre: its response to fear, anxiety, anger and stress in various forms is what causes muscular tension and stiffness in this region. Backbends wring such tension out of the body, thus clearing out the effects of our mental tension.
Points to note: Please remember to always follow a backbend with a forward bending pose. This is essential to work the musculo-skeletal system evenly and ease any tension that may have developed while bending back.
Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com. Harmony Foundation recently published Shameem's book, Yoga for Silvers. To place an order, please write to: email@example.com. This article only attempts to enthuse readers towards yoga practice and complement your existing practice. Yoga is best learnt under the personal guidance of a teacher.
Also see: Yoga poses to maintain your poise!