In any back bend pose, it is extremely important to be conscious of what part of the spine is bending. Generally, most of us are more flexible in the lumbar spine (lowest portion of spine, low back). This makes sense because the lumbar spine is naturally curved in favor of back bends. Because of this natural curve, it may seem easiest to use the low back curvature to increase back bending flexibility. This is very unhealthy for the spine and low back., Beginners should be cautious NOT to over-compensate back bends within the lumbar spine.
Notice two very different things in these photos...
December 2014 - Curvature in the Lumbar Spine
July 2015 - Increased Flexibility in the Thoracic Spine
At this point in the game, I was very new to back bends and trying really hard to get that beautiful curvature as much as possible. Notice how most of the curve is absorbed by the lumbar spine and lower back section. This type of bending puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the low back and can create low back pain over time. I do realize though, as a beginner it is difficult to find flexibility across the thoracic spine during the early stages of wheel pose.
The important part to focus on here is to expand in the heart-space and shoulders. Over time practicing space in the upper back and chest will improve complete spinal flexibility.
I was surprised to see such progress in this latest photo of my wheel pose. I've been practicing for a while now, but not really taking any pictures as of late. You can clearly see a difference in where my spinal flexibility has progressed to. I'm not so arched in the low back, while curved more in the upper back. Flexibility in my shoulders and chest have also improved slightly.
Bringing openness and expansion in the chest, shoulders and upper back is key to creating this lovely Urdhva Dhanurasana.
I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I'm usually a quite impatient person. I'm a desk-dweller for many hours of the day, and back bends have been a struggle for me.
The practice of yoga has given me the ability to trust myself and my body while making room for imbalance, imperfection and waves. The journey to somewhere is not always going to feel like an ascent. There are dips, switchbacks and ditches...but they all lead to the summit.
Hello, I'm Julie.
Yoga to inspire preventative health and better quality of life. Bring wisdom, nourishment and a deeper connection to all aspects of your life.