Asana Category – Backbends, Backbending (Heart Opening, Chest Opening, Shoulder Stretching, Back Strengthening)

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Lesson Overview

In this lesson, we examine backbending poses as a category, and ways to apply this knowledge in teaching.


Become proficient in the nature and effects of backbending poses, and considerations for wisely teaching and sequencing them.


Describe the primary effect of backbends and a secondary effect that is experienced in active backbends. Define the anatomical term “extension” and explain what is meant by spinal extension in yoga. List categories of backbends, the actions that characterize them and an example of each. Describe the general physical and energetic effects of backbends. Define “nutation and “counternutation” and explain the proper action of the sacrum during backbending. Explain the circumstances under which students will likely benefit from contracting the glutes in backbending and when it is usually best to relax the glutes. Describe low body engagement and alignment practices to support healthy backbending. Describe sequencing considerations and provide a list of backbending poses.


anuvittasana, ardha bhekasana, backbending poses, bhekasana, bhujangasana, chatush padasana, counternutation, dhanurasana, drop back, dwi pada pitham, hasta uttanasana, mandukasana, matsyasana, nutation, purvottanasana, salabhasana, salamba bhujangasana, setu bandhasana, supta virasana, urdhva dhanurasana, urdhva mukha svanasana, ustrasana

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