Standing Backbend: How to Energize and Open your Heart

Standing Backbend Blog Travel Yoga

Standing Backbend

How to Energize and Open your Heart

To follow up our last post, 5 Best Travel Yoga Poses You can do (Practically) Anywhere to Energize, we’re breaking down each of the 5 postures in the weeks to come to ease your travel-yoga journey.

As we’ve mentioned, even the most well-seasoned yogi(ni)’s can feel a bit… awkward… when taking their practice off of the mat and into public settings. For many people, there’s something deeply intimate about a yoga practice. There’s also a pretty big difference between practicing yoga in an established group setting (i.e. yoga studio, gym, etc.) versus any ol’ public place (i.e. the airport terminal or lobby of your hotel and other travel yoga locations).

All five poses are versatile (modify and alter as necessary), accessible (whether you’ve been practicing yoga or not!), and relatively discrete (can be done in various outfits and in numerous settings). They’re perfect for a travel yoga practice. However, we recommend practicing these shapes initially at home or in a studio setting before taking them to the streets.

Listen to your body—if a shape doesn’t feel good (pain is a different sensation then a releasing stretch), don’t do it. And as always, be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any new exercise routine.

If you’re a curious adventurer, looking for your next immersion and opportunity to practice travel yoga, join us in our upcoming retreat to Dominical, Costa Rica! Learn more about the beautiful beach town of Dominical here.

Standing Backbend: Travel Yoga Pose #1

Standing Backbend Blog Travel Yoga

Backbends are inherently energizing. They help to open the chest and strengthen the spine. Even a small backbend, performed correctly, will help give you a quick mood-booster and keep your spine healthy. If you only practice one of our travel yoga poses, this is the one we highly recommend.

How to

Standing Backbend

From a standing position, separate your feet hip-width and ground down through your soles. Stack your joints, hips over feet and shoulders over hips, to evenly distribute the weight of your body amongst your joints. As you inhale, you can 1) reach your hands overhead, 2)take your palms to your low back, or 3) press your palms together at your heart.

Start by tracing your gaze up to the ceiling and when your gaze sets roughly 45 degrees higher than straight forward, exhale and lean backwards to open up your chest. Maintain a long spine (see Troubleshoot, low back)—there should be no pain. Only bend so far into the pose that you continue steady breathing and the ball mounts of your feet remain grounded. Breathe steadily and evenly through your nose for 5-15 breaths.

Troubleshoot

Knees:

As you bend backwards, your body may want to bend your knees as a form of release. While this isn’t inherently ‘bad’ (depending on how deeply your knees are bending), it isn’t recommended to start developing that habit in forming a backbend practice. Ease up on your backbend so your knees remain relatively stacked on your ankles. However, as you deepen your backbend, your shins (and knees by extension) will start to shift forward to counter the weight-exchange that’s happening in your feet.

Shoulders:

Depending on your chosen arm variation, your shoulders may start to creep up towards your ears, or round forward. Remind yourself to suction your shoulder blades in and down and continually broaden your collarbones.

Low Back:

If you feel extensive pressure at your low back, you’ve gone a bit too far too quickly in your backbend. Your spine should be ‘lengthening’ while your back bends to combat excessive compression at the posterior side of your vertebral discs. You can try from the beginning, and not go as deep, or take bridge pose (under Modify).

Neck:

If this backbend is too much on your neck, you may have to strengthen the muscles on the posterior (back) side of your neck. Likely, you spend much of your day with your head slightly leaning forward. Practice gazing up and slightly back from a seated position, regularly, to build strength. Apply the advice from the Shoulders section as well.

Benefits

  • Support a healthy spine
  • Relieves chronic back pain
  • Compresses and flushes your kidneys
  • Stretches your hip flexors
  • Counters long periods of sitting and leaning forward
  • Releases shoulder tension

Modify

Baby Backbend

This may sound a little too obvious, but the best way to modify a standing backbend is to bend less and/or provide yourself with more support. It takes dedication to build up to a deeper backbend and not risk injury, so always play it safe by listening for signs of pain in your body. Any sensation that feels crunchy, compressed, or stabbing is a red flag.

It’s challenging to maintain your arms in line with your ears in a backbend, so feel free to cactus out your arms for more support. For the most support through this standing backbend, you can place your hands at your low back as you bend—just be sure not to stick your booty out in the process :P.

Bridge Pose

Bridge pose is a different type of backbend than standing backbend: it targets the lower segments of your thoracic spine and requires cervical flexion. Nonetheless, it’s a superbly healing yoga posture that can be both invigorating and grounding. See this fabulous post by the yoga journal for how-to, benefits, and more!

Amplify

Wheel or Floor Bow

Both wheel and floor bow may be a bit harder to pop into in an airport (unless you have both the space and the confidence) but my oh my, are they juicy, energizing backbends! Whereas floor bow is a more grand iteration of a standing backbend, wheel pose is more akin to the mature variation of bridge pose. Learn more from the Yoga Journal how to pop into wheel and floor bow.

 

travel yoga icons

What are your favorite travel yoga poses? We’re always looking to improve and revise content. Comment below or tag us on social media with your favorite travel yoga poses to energize.

5 Best Travel Yoga Poses you can do Practically Anywhere to Energize

Travel Yoga Poses

5 Best Travel Yoga Poses

You can do (Practically) Anywhere to Energize

This week, we’ll introduce 5 of our recommended travel yoga poses. In the weeks to come, we’ll break down each posture and provide more information—so stay tuned and check back every Wednesday!

Even the most well-seasoned yogi(ni)’s can feel a bit… awkward… when taking their practice off of the mat and into public settings. For many people, there’s something deeply intimate about a yoga practice. There’s also a pretty big difference between practicing yoga in an established group setting (i.e. yoga studio, gym, etc.) versus any ol’ public place (i.e. the airport terminal or lobby of your hotel and other travel yoga locations).

The following five poses are versatile (modify and alter as necessary), accessible (whether you’ve been practicing yoga or not!), and relatively discrete (can be done in various outfits and in numerous settings). They’re perfect for a travel yoga practice. However, we recommend practicing these shapes initially at home or in a studio setting before taking them to the streets. Listen to your body—if a shape doesn’t feel good (pain is a different sensation then a releasing stretch), don’t do it. And as always, be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any new exercise routine.

Travel Yoga: The Truth about Taking your Practice to Foreign Territory

Despite the popularized view yoga, amplified through social media lenses, most yogi(ni)’s are not practicing yoga to boast, gloat, or condescend. Additionally, yoga isn’t just about instagram-worthy shapes. A simple seated position, performed with intention, is just as much of a yoga pose as any intimidating arm balance. Taking your practice out of the comfortable public setting of a studio or the privacy of your own home is scary. However, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes to reclaim your power from the fear you once felt so strongly.

Once you’ve developed a steady practice, your body craves the asanas—particularly when you’ve been cooped up on a flight or ride for extended periods of time. Even if you haven’t yet developed a regular yoga practice, doesn’t it feel so good to stretch your limbs after you exit the cabin? But many of us feel restricted in our ability to move our bodies freely in unfamiliar territory.

Maybe you have the skillset and knowledge of which shapes provide specific benefits, but lack the confidence to execute them, solo, in the company of others. Maybe you aren’t yet equipped with those tools. Either way, rest assured that with practice, these five travel yoga poses are accessible, easy to practice, and fairly discrete while still being beneficial.

Regardless of where you’re at with your personal yoga practice, it’s important to remember that yoga is just that: a practice, never a performance. You have no control over how other people may interpret your spontaneous, public bouts of yoga, but that really doesn’t matter.

Yoga is about connecting more deeply with yourself through your worldly senses. It’s an opportunity to be playful and curious for our short time on planet Earth. If others are curious about your practice, they’ll ask questions. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a life-long friendship from a conversation that was sparked by your airport-practice. Long live the curious—for they shall have adventures.

If you’re a curious adventurer, looking for your next immersion and opportunity to practice travel yoga, join us in our upcoming retreat to Dominical, Costa Rica! Learn more about the beautiful beach town of Dominical here.

Travel Yoga Pose #1: Standing Backbend

 

Standing Backbend Blog Travel Yoga

Backbends are inherently energizing. They help to open the chest and strengthen the spine. Even a small backbend, performed correctly, will help give you a quick mood-booster and keep your spine healthy. If you only practice one of our travel yoga poses, this is the one we highly recommend.

 

 

Travel Yoga Pose #2: Chair Pose

 

Chair Pose Blog Travel Yoga

This posture is fierce: anyone who’s taken a class where their instructor guides them through chair for more than 5 breaths knows what I’m talking about. Who would have guessed holding a static squat while breathing would be so challenging? It was also news to me when I read that chair pose is meant to be a fierce pose. The Sanskrit naming of chair pose is utkatasana. Utkata loosely translates to fierce or difficult (and asana to pose). This shape must be done mindfully, or you’ll risk countering the brag worthy benefits it possesses.

 

Travel Yoga Pose #3: Upward-Facing Dog

 

Yoga Travel Upward-Facing Dog Blog

Upward-facing dog is a juicy , belly-down spinal lengthening posture that also opens the chest and stretches the abdominal muscles. This posture is integral in movement-based yoga classes that incorporate chaturanga dandasana (a tricep pushup)—it directly proceeds the tricep pushup, and precedes downward-facing dog.

 

 

Travel Yoga Pose #4: Half Lord of the Fishes

 

Twist Blog Travel Yoga

This luscious twist can be oh-so-subtle in public, depending on where you’re sitting. Twists work to reset your spine and are fabulous companions while traveling. Additionally, twists gently massage your internal organs. Half Lord of the Fishes adds in an element of compression between your inner thigh and belly to further stimulate your internal organs. If bending your knee in isn’t an option where you are (or due to what you’re wearing) you can omit that aspect of the pose and still receive majority of the twist’s benefits.

 

 

Travel Yoga Pose #5: Gate Pose

 

Gate pose Blog Travel Yoga

How could such a “stretchy” posture possible be energizing? Well, for starters, gate pose targets the muscles and fascia along your side bodies. Chances are, you’ve built up some cobwebs in this area. It’s not a commonly worked body region: we rarely come into side flexion throughout our day-to-day lives.

Through gate pose, you begin chipping away at the build-up of your side-body connective tissue. This promotes blood flow and stimulates oxygenated blood to regions it isn’t used to inhabiting—resulting in a boost of energy, bazing!

 

What are your favorite travel yoga poses? We’re always looking to improve and revise content. Comment below or tag us on social media with your favorite travel yoga poses to energize.