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How the Warrior Prepares Us for Backbends
by Christian Leeby



Editor's Note from Lexi Yoga: Christian Leeby shares with us how the correct alignment for warrior l prepares us for backbends. Learning the correct way to practice bending backwards can help to avoid injuries, and protect your lower back from getting compressed.

Standing poses should be the foundation of all yoga practices because they safely prepare the body for the next poses to come. As well, the standing poses teach us how to practice all of the other types of poses.

Backbends, for example, are more advanced poses that should not be practiced by raw beginners. They are more complicated and therefore require proper preparation. The most appropriate preparation for backbends is the standing pose called Virabhadrasana I, which means Warrior Pose.

In Virabhadrasana I the legs are apart, one knee is bent to a right angle and the arms are stretched over the head, creating a backward arch in the spine.

Here's a quick video showing you the right alignment in the bent knee.

Now if you don't know how to correctly practice bending backwards you will always compress the lower back, it's just the way bodies work. So learning the correct movements is the key to protecting yourself from injury, getting the most out of the actually doing the pose, and using the pose to help you better understand what you need to know for the more advanced backbends yet to come.

There are two reasons why the lower back gets compressed when we bend backwards. One is that the weight of the trunk tends to create pressure on the lower spine. The way to correct this is to lift the trunk up, and in this pose we use the arms to help create that lift.

Don't just raise your arms up, but instead, stretch them up vigorously. In your mind's eye find the connection between the arms and the sides of the ribs. It's easy. Then stretch those arms up more and more to help lift the sides of the ribs right up off of the pelvis, making the waists longer and longer.

Now you've got the weight of the trunk lifting up off of the lower spine, rather than falling down on it.

The second reason the back compresses is that the tailbone moves back, which arches the low back. Try it, arch your lower back in a little bit and see which way the tailbone goes. It moves back and up. Now flatten or slightly round the lower back and see how the tailbone moves down and forward. You're actually rotating your pelvis when you do this, but concentrating on  the tailbone is a very effective way to learn the right movement.

Lifting the sides of the ribs up off of the hips with the help of the arms and rotating the pelvis so you reduce the arch in the lower back are key elements to learn and practice in Virabhadrasana I, the first backbend.



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About the Author

Christian Leeby is an expert teacher on the correct alignment in Yoga postures. He has studied with the world’s best teachers and has taught for over 2 decades. Visit him at www.miracleofyoga.com.











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