Simple Supported Back bend is a gentler version of a back bend and may be a nice place to start. Back bends are a great way to counteract the rounding of our shoulders that tends to happen daily when we are sitting at a desk on the computer, using any mobile device, or driving a car. Many people habitually carry tension in the shoulders and may suffer from tension headaches from doing so. This pose will help open up that area and encourage breathing as we tend to hold it when we are carrying tension. This pose adds energy to the body and can leave you feeling refreshed. You will feel a gentle stretch in your upper chest and shoulder area.
Always advise your doctor before beginning any yoga practice. Cautions for this pose include spondylolisthesis, spondylolysis, or disc disease. Avoid if you are more than 3 months pregnant or during menstruation. I’ll offer variations for those in a future post. If you have any pain in your lower back during this pose, come out and find a different variation.
For this pose, you will want to try using a bolster, a folded blanket, or a pillow under your back. Find which height is comfortable for your back to hold for a period of time. Use a rolled up blanket under your neck for more support and as a way to allow the throat to open. Sit on your mat with knees bent with your prop against your back. Slowly bring your back down towards your prop and your head to the ground with your neck roll in place. Your arms can be placed beside your body or out to the sides in a “T” shape. Spend a moment in the shape taking stock of how it feels. If you feel any pain or discomfort, come out of the pose and try another prop at a lower height. You may want to use an eye pillow to reduce any stimulation and a blanket over your body to keep it warm.
Once your are comfortable in the pose, start your inhales and exhales, and settle in. Stay in this shape as long as it is comfortable. Average time may be 1 to 5 minutes.
To come out of this pose, do so slowly. Roll to either your left or right side with your knees on the ground. Spend some time here adjusting to the pose. When you are ready, slowly use your top arm to press yourself into a seated position to prepare for what is next.
Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up this pose:
Lasater, J. (1995). Relax and renew: Restful yoga for stressful times. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.