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Why Back Bends Are Essential to an Open Heart

Posted Jan 11 2013 7:31am
Image courtesy of  vichie81 /

Image courtesy of vichie81 /


Article contributed by YOME yoga

Back-bending postures can be some of the most challenging yoga postures to achieve. It is no surprise, though, that many of us don’t bend over backwards so easily. Backbends like Urdhva Danurasana (full wheel pose), Ustrasana (camel pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose) and Supta Vajrasana (reclined hero) are all challenging because they require the use of the entire body, not just the muscles of the back and shoulders. In fact, connective tissues in the spine, which are also called supporting tissues, have to be strong and flexible. When we bend backward we have to trust in our selves for support enough that we can give to others. Here are a few more reasons we practice backbends:

  • Cultivating Compassion.
    By opening the muscles in the chest, we also free the energy of the heart chakra , a psychological center of earthly love and a subtle energy center of strength and compassionate love – our ability to love the entire universe and everything in it, instead of just our family and friends. Back bend poses help to open the heart, both physically and energetically.
  • Relaxed Sacrum.
    Proper backbends like Sphinx and Cobra also require a wider, relaxed sacrum. The lower spine is essential for supporting an open heart . The sacrum is associated with the second chakra, or Swadhistana, also called the solar plexus and is where we develop our own personal and creative power. Once we also open the heart we can use this personal power for greater good besides serving ourselves, we can also use it to serve others.
  • Feeling Unhurt.
    Anahata chakra or the heart center is named after a Sanskrit word meaning ‘unhurt’ or ‘unstruck,’ as in an un-played musical note or chord. Its deeper meaning, though is that we are freed of past emotional baggage that keeps is closed in, shoulders slouched and protective of our emotional wounds of the heart. When the heart is clear and open, we can love freely, without worry of injury or heart-break.

Back-bending asana literally teach us to ‘bend-over backwards’ for others and honor our connection to everything on this planet, not just our limited selves. Once we blend that realization with our own personal power developed in a second chakra or a sacrum opening, there are no limits to what we can achieve.

Have you recently experienced a heart opening due to back-bending asana practice in your yoga class ? If so, please share your comments below.

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