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Day 16: Beginner

Backbends with Elise Lorimer

The last of the 21-Day Yoga Challenge's aligning and refining practices focuses on backbends, which stretch the front body and strengthen the back muscles. Because we spend so much of the day reaching or moving forward, backbends are essentially counterposes to life. They're the antidote to hours behind a desk or steering wheel, an answer to bad posture, and an embodiment of openness and receptivity.

And yet, for many people, they're an absolute nightmare.

Fear and loathing of backbends is understandable. In addition to being a departure from our status quo, they're quick to reveal our limitations and test our patience. Anyone who has experienced back pain has even more reason to resist them. If you fall in the hate-'em camp, you might be tempted to skip today's sequence. Give it a chance. Warming up the body is essential to safe and pleasurable backbends, and Elise Lorimer sees to that. By the time you're hovering in your third Salabhasana (Locust Pose), you just might be a fan.

You'll need a strap for this practice.

Watch Today's Video »

Challenge Tip

Backbends like Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) and Salambhasana (Locust Pose) are wonderful for strengthening the muscles of the back. But you can strain your lower back or neck if you're not careful. To avoid compressing the lower back, maintain a slight abdominal contraction while in the pose, and focus on arching the upper back. To avoid neck strain, don't throw your head back. Instead, move the head away from the shoulders to create more space between the cervical vertebrae.

Today's Recipe: Refreshing Quinoa

This tabouli-like salad uses quinoa instead of bulgur, making it gluten-free.

Get Today's Recipe »


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