The Backbend Nemesis

A “bad” back, necessitating regular TCM visits and massages. I’m not really sure where, when and how I got it. I guess I must have developed it over the years of bad posture. What does a bad back mean in yoga? It means that I probably will not be able to get the most out of back bending postures because even getting into Anjaneyasana (high crescent lunge) means pain in my lower back. So, I embarked on a plan to fight my nemesis and today I am able to get into a fair Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose) without much pain. The following are the upper body muscles I found that were crucial for me to get into Urdhva Dhanurasana:

  1. Pectoralis major – the large chest muscles that originate on the breastbone and clavicle and insert on the outer humerus.
  2. Latissimus dorsi – the large, flat muscles on the back, which originate on the pelvic and the mid- and low-back vertebrae and extend up and diagonally out across the back, wrap around the armpits, and insert on the inner humerus.
  3. Anterior deltoids – delta-shaped muscles in the shoulder girdle that originate on the anterior border of the clavicle and insert on the lateral surface of the humerus.

Tightness in the abovementioned muscles limits the ability to fully stretch your arms as well as externally rotate and flex the shoulders to support your body weight in Urdhva Dhanurasana. As a consequence, your upper body collapses and your lower back tends to bear your body weight – a big no no!

If you are like me and in need of chest and shoulder opening exercises, try these: Adho Mukha Svanasana, Prasarita Padottanasana C, Purvottanasana and eight-point shoulder opener. You can also get a partner to assist you to get deeper into Urdhva Dhanurasana by lifting your upper back using a strap.

Happy practicing! Namaste.

Jeremy Lim
200 Hour YTT (Weekend Batch)

File 19-9-15 5 01 39 pm

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