In This Chapter
^ The health benefits of backbends ^ Backbends help you laugh more
^ Lots of great backbending postures to try: cobra, bow, upward facing dog, fish, camel, and wheel
^ Modifications, challenges, and other tips to improve your yoga practice
A few people have naturally flexible spines and find backbends easy, but for most people, backbends are a challenge. We tend to spend more of our lives bent slightly forward, and our spines just aren't used to bending the other way. All the more reason to practice backbends—for the sake of balance.
Whether or not you are naturally flexible, bending poses are extremely beneficial for improving your spine and toning your internal organs. The movement into and the holding of backbends releases your chakras, or the energy centers in your body, so energy and joy can flow through you unimpeded. (See Chapter 20, "Chakras, Mudras, Mantras, and Mandalas.") After a few good backbends, you may just laugh out loud.
Start by performing a simple stretch to open your neck, shoulders, and chest. Just like the figure in the following drawing, sit up straight in a chair and begin to arch your neck back. Inhale as you do it. Focus your gaze upward. Feel that openness in the
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