Monday Medicine – Backbends

It’s been one of those little stretches where I lost my enthusiasm. Husband was in the backcountry camping with his brother for a few days and our water stopped working one evening. City girl here headed to bed with Morgane, hoping that it would just come back on during the night. Woke up the next morning and as I was wondering if we forgot to pay a bill, remembered that we have a well. Called father-in-law at 6 am to find out exactly who you’re supposed to call for well problems. Do you know who dug your well? he asked me. SHOULD I???? I replied. Alright let me cut to the chase: water was restored after many hours of interesting things happening at our house, including the digging of a huge hole in the yard that our puppy was really excited about, and fell into multiple times. Add to this the anniversary of a terrible day 8 years ago, my daughter waking me out of a deep sleep the next night by barfing on me, and it’s no wonder I wasn’t feeling myself by yesterday.

I am however back in the game today, on a Monday no less! Needless to say I didn’t get much opportunity to practice yoga the last few days, but it got me thinking about the yoga “quick fixes” I can do when I’m feeling challenged. I think I’d like to start a new weekly blog feature called “One-Pose Wonders”, the idea being that you can whip these babies out almost anywhere when you need to tap into that uplifting, healing power of yoga but can’t do a longer practice. My friend and owner of Be The Change yoga studio in Bozeman where I teach, Jessica, says backbends are medicine. I agree. So here goes with our very first One-Pose Wonder, a backbend (uh, I guess this is actually 2 poses) – setu bandhasana (supported bridge) into urdhva dhanurasana (wheel). The supported pose helps to ground and release your lower back, a spot that can hold a lot of our stress, and the full backbend uplifts and energizes. It’s a great combo.
Note: If you do not regularly practice wheel pose, then stick with supported bridge only.

The How-To:

  1. Have your yoga block next to your mat within reach. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Your feet and knees should be hip distance apart.
  2. Extend your arms by your sides; your fingertips should touch or almost touch your heels (but make sure your feet and knees stay hip width apart here).
  3. Move your shoulders in towards one another underneath you, so that you feel a slight lift in your chest.
  4. On an inhale lift your hips up, keeping your feet grounded and your knees over your ankles. Grab your block and carefully put in under your sacrum; block can be any height so experiment to find what works best. Make sure the block isn’t tilted and that all four bottom edges are firmly on the floor. The block should feel good and supportive, not like it is digging into your low back; it is very important that it supports the sacrum, just above where your rear begins.
  5. Release entirely into the support of the block for 5 breaths.
  6. You can stay here for another 10-15 breaths, or take your hands back into position for wheel. Push off your hands and feet to come to the top of your head first; keep the elbows drawing in as you straighten your arms into full wheel. Hold for 5 breaths, and then lower onto the block (you may have to readjust the block position under you).
  7. Repeat the supported bridge to wheel sequence two more times.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any requests for future One-Pose Wonder posts. Namaste.