Are backbends “good for bad backs”?

I find that many people who have back pain think they need to stretch their backs when often what they really need is to improve their back strength.  Many back injuries occur from forward bending not backbending.  One of the safest backbends to do is a low cobra.  The key is to use the back body to lift up and NOT the arms.  In this way the back arches only as far as the muscles along the spine are able to lift it.  It’s important to differentiate between discomfort and pain.  Through careful exploration it is possible to improve back health through backbending.  The key is to move slowly with awareness and patience.

Try adding backbends to your yoga practice.  They don’t have to be extreme to be helpful.  Mild chest opening can greatly improve  breathing and posture as well as develop back strength.  If you suffer from chronic back pain, it’s best to seek the guidance of a qualified instructor.  And remember, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

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