The Supported Backbend is a passive backbend that provides a gentle, supported chest opening while promoting relaxation.
Backbends 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. The Supported Backbend adds energy to the body and can leave you feeling refreshed. You will feel a gentle stretch in your upper chest and shoulder area.
Prepare for the pose by positioning a bolster or a thickly rolled blanket horizontally on your mat, approximately two-thirds towards the back of the mat. If desired, you can place a folded blanket to support your head. Sit in front of the bolster, maintaining a distance of one to two feet (depending on your height), with your knees bent and your feet resting on the floor.
Transition into the pose by using your hands to guide yourself backward and lower your body onto the bolster. Arch your spine as you bring your head down, allowing it to rest just beyond the bolster. The bolster should provide support to your upper back, with the lower tips of your shoulder blades resting at its center. Your shoulders should naturally hang towards the floor without touching it. Adjust your position forward or backward as needed to achieve proper alignment.
Extend your arms straight out to the sides, along the top edge of the bolster, so that the back of your hands, and potentially your elbows, rest on the floor. You can keep your arms straight or bend them at the elbows, resembling a cactus shape. Finally, stretch your legs along the floor. Engage your leg muscles and draw the balls of your feet back towards the tops of your shins.
Once you have settled into the pose, release the weight of your upper body onto the support and shift your focus to your breath. Breathe naturally for 6 to 12 breaths, and then attempt to deepen your breath for an additional 6 breaths. Gradually increase the duration of your holds, gradually working up to maintaining the pose for up to 3 minutes.
To exit the pose, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Roll off the props onto your side and slowly rise back up to a seated position.
Benefits and Contraindications
Improves flexibility and focus
Stretching of the muscles and fascia of the front part of the body
Opens the lungs and chest
Reduces stress and tension
Regulates blood pressure
Pain in your lower back
Pregnancy for more than three months
Photo poses in different angles
Modifications and Props
For performing this pose put 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.
If you feel any pain or discomfort, come out of the pose and try another prop at a lower height.
Honor and work within your limits related to flexibility, strength, and range of motion. Be aware that yoga poses, especially backbends, may cause you to feel a range of emotions. Understand that this is normal and allow yourself to experience the feelings that arise.
Focus on lengthening your spine and opening your chest. To prevent compressing into your lower back, elongate your spine as you imagine a line of energy running along your spine and out through the crown of your head.
Activate your arm muscles to lift and open your chest.
Experiment with leg positions such as Half Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana) or Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana).
If it’s not comfortable to tilt your head back, keep your neck in a neutral position or use cushions and blocks for support.
Use cushions and blocks to support your spine, chest, or shoulders.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I practice supported backbend pose?
The frequency of your supported backbend pose practice will depend on your individual needs and goals, as well as your level of experience and comfort with the pose. As with any yoga pose or practice, it’s important to listen to your body and give yourself enough time to rest and recover between sessions. Here are some general guidelines:
If you’re new to supported backbend pose or yoga in general, start with one session per week and gradually increase as you become more comfortable and confident.
If you have a regular yoga practice, you can incorporate supported backbend pose into your routine 2-3 times per week, or as often as feels good for your body.
If you’re using supported backbend pose therapeutically to address specific issues, such as back pain or stress relief, you may benefit from practicing it more frequently, under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher or therapist.
Ultimately, the key is to listen to your body and practice in a way that feels safe and sustainable for you. If you experience any pain or discomfort during or after the pose, dial back or take a break as needed.
Can supported backbend pose help with posture?
Yes, supported backbend pose can help improve posture by stretching and strengthening key muscles that support the spine, such as the back muscles, abdominals, and chest muscles.
A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it.
In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings.
After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva.
To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics.
Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga.
At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.