Yogi Stix – Standing Backbend

Did you know that yoga teachers sometimes draw out their yoga sequences, a set of poses within the practice, using stick figures? Well, welcome to Yogi Stix, a page where you can spy with your little eye a yoga ‘stix’ figure and a description of the pose to help you practice at home!

Standing Backbend
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From standing tall, bring your palms together in front of your heart, with thumbs resting on your sternum (the bone between the two sides of your rib cage) Your feet can be directly underneath your hip bones, and legs apart, or your legs can be pressed against one another, with feet together. Press down evenly between both feet, rather than letting your weight shift side to side or forwards and back. Think about press down into the ball-mounds of your big and little toes, and your heel bones. Then, imagine lifting up the inside arches of your feet, as if to create a suction cup effect.

Activate your legs by strengthening your inner and outer legs the same amount. Contract your quadriceps (the muscles in the front of your thigh bones) by imagining squeezing your knee caps (patellas) up to your hip bones. Press your frontal hip bones slightly forward and together, and reach your tail bone down towards your heels to lengthen your lower back. Contract your belly by working your bellybutton back towards your spine (back bone) and imagine scooping it up behind your rib cage.

Once the lower half of your body feels strong and stable, keeping your chest broad, shoulders relaxed and your rib cage from splaying apart, consider lifting your chest, from the bottom of your rib cage, and stretching your abdominal (belly muscles) long. Then, as to the bottom of your shoulder blade (scapula) start to work towards one another curl your upper back like you’re leaning over a ball, or the rolled arm of a sofa or chair. Allow the back of your neck to stay long by letting your chin soften towards your chest (not a contraction so as not to overly stretch the back of the neck) and look at the tip of your nose! Hold for 3 – 5 breaths and gently release to standing tall. Close your eyes and notice for a couple of breaths how differently you might feel, if you do.

As always, remember that the pose can be done in a bunch of different ways, maybe it feels better to you to soften your knees just a bit and contract the muscles of the legs, or maybe instead of curling your upper back you focus on lengthening through the spine and simply staying tall. These are just two of the many ways to change this pose to make it better, more accessible, for your own body so play, give all of the variations a try to find out what makes you happy in this pose! And grown-up yogis, please remember that this pose looks different in everyone’s bodies so let the kiddo’s bodies do what feels good to them – no cheating, let them find it themselves. ;0)