Deep, complex backbends are visually dazzling. And you've probably read about their therapeutic benefits: they're energizing, they can help alleviate depression and back pain, they can even straighten out that unflattering slouch you may have developed from hours in front of a computer. With all that promise, you can easily be seduced into going all-out with this set of poses.
But if you push too hard or skip ahead to complex backbends without first learning the simple, foundational ones, you run the risk of crunching your lower back, depleting your energy, or even stirring up anxiety. In short, your backbends won't feel melodic or harmonious.
Here's a way to radically rethink your backbends: Size doesn't matter. To reap the physical, energetic, and therapeutic effects of backbends, you don't have to create the deepest arch. Just think of creating a smooth, even arc in your spine. Rather than searching for intensity, search for evenness. You'll know you've found it when your lower, middle, and upper back all have the same degree of sensation.