The standing and prone backbonds play an obvious role in hatha yoga. B t what is a supine backbend? How can one do such a thing? Oddly enoug i, this is indeed possible, and several of the most important t raditional bai bending postures in hatha yoga, including the fish, the wheel, and t e bridge, either start or end in a supine or semi-supine position. In additi n to that, in more recent times postures that support the back with a boh -r or a ball have become regular fixtures in many practice plans, esperi: ly those with a therapeutic orientation.
Like the prone backbending postures, we can divide supine backbond ig postures into two categories, active and passive, depending on whether iu lift yourself internally into a backbend or lie supine on a prop that all- vs you to relax. The simplest active supine backbending posture is to Ik )n your back and lift the abdomen toward the ceiling. We can call this a lun ar lift, and that's where we'll start.
the lumbar lift and lumbar press
To do the lumbar lift, he in the corpse posture, relax your abdomen, nd arch the lower back forward by tightening the deep back muscles, lie effect of this is to drag the rear of the pelvis and coccyx along the >or toward the shoulders, and thus increase the lumbar lordosis. This post re, however, is not entirely stable: you can't maintain it except by contin ng to pull on the hips from above. To create a posture that you can obsen at your leisure, heave your hips up away from the floor while holding >ur weight momentarily between your heels and shoulders, and at the me time tug the hips forcibly toward the head using the deep back mus es. Then maintaining that tension with the back muscles, drop the hips I ick to the floor. If you do this two or three times in succession, readjusting < i«1 time to a deeper backbend, you will create a stable lumbar arch.
Once you are acclimated to it, you will notice that this posture is a i- 'od illustration of how inhalations either take you further into a postur or
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increase internal tension, and how exhalations either relax you toward a neutral position or decrease internal tension. If you keep the abdominal wall relaxed after you have lifted up, a deep abdominal inhalation pushes the abdomen further out and merely increases intra-abdominal pressure; if you hold moderate tension in the abdominal wall after you have lifted up, a full diaphragmatic inhalation increases internal tension, accentuates the lumbar lordosis, and takes you further into the posture (fig. 5.26). Each exhalation, by contrast, either decreases intra-abdominal pressure in the case of abdominal breathing, or relaxes you down slightly toward a neutral position in the case of diaphragmatic breathing
When you are breathing diaphragmatically the lumbar lift becomes another diaphragm-assisted backbend, and except that it is supine, the posture is comparable to a prone diaphragmatic rear lift. In both cases it is impossible to create the lifting effect with inhalation unless the gluteal muscles are relaxed, and that is why it helps to pull your hips forcefully into a higher settled position. After feeling the effects of breathing in the new posture, you can come out of it by thrusting your hips back interiorly to flatten your back toward the floor. Then relax in the corpse posture and notice that the diaphragm is no longer affecting the spine.
The opposite and complementary posture to the lumbar lift might be called a lumbar press, and this is another challenging exercise in concentration and awareness. Again start in the corpse posture, but this time exhale while you flatten your back against the floor (fig. 5.27; using the abdominal muscles (figs. 3.11-13, 8.8, 8.11, and 8.13), as discussed in chapter 3- Then keep the back immobile as you inhale, and notice the adjustments you must make internally to accomplish that. Each inhalation tends ta pull the lumbar lordosis forward, and that has to be prevented with extra intraabdominal pressure and tension from the rectus abdominis muscles, even though this pressure and tension restrains inhalation. It's a balancing act. Exhalation is also a balancing act because it tends to create a slight release, and if you are not watchful the lower back will start to return to its slightly arched neutral position. So in the end both inhalation and exhalation have fi'rsr'J* 5 26 Lumbar lift- A fuH diaphragmatic inhalation superimposed on havino 1 "ragged the pelvis toward the shoulders and having relaxed the gluteal "scles is illustrated here The pose is a diaphragm-assisted backbend (arrow)
fi'rsr'J* 5 26 Lumbar lift- A fuH diaphragmatic inhalation superimposed on havino 1 "ragged the pelvis toward the shoulders and having relaxed the gluteal "scles is illustrated here The pose is a diaphragm-assisted backbend (arrow)
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