I just finished up a class with one of my all-time favorite yoga teachers. Chad Hamrin is actually the man responsible for introducing me to yoga 15 years ago. He’s my guru and has been teaching yoga for over 40 years.
When I am in town I make sure to never miss his class.
He doesn’t play music and he makes us sit for longer periods than I ever thought possible. Chad is an acquired taste and I have seen new age yogis come into his class and leave after 10 minutes, cause they don’t understand why he has had us standing with our arms out to the sides for what feels like and eternity. To them we haven’t done anything.
Today we spent a full hour doing backbends and exercises to strengthen our upper back. This is very difficult work, because people are afraid of the emotions that come up. We keep so much pent up stress and feelings trapped inside our internal organs. We round our spine and close ourselves off to the world and try protect our heart. So back bending or heart openers are often avoided entirely.
If you look around you will see that as people age their spine begins to round. And this is no longer something reserved for people in the golden years. Technology and prolonged hours sitting at a desk or scrolling over a phone all compromise our postures. Every action we do every day is geared towards rounding forward and hunching over. Arching backwards is a movement we don’t do unless we build it into our day.
Bending backwards also has amazing benefits on energy levels and posture. It will leave you feeling lighter and more open and you will find yourself smiling more and sharing your light with others. Another huge benefit comes from strengthening the core. So many people think of 6 pack abs as a set of muscles on the front of our body. What they don’t understand is that the abdominal muscles are like a corset. We have to strengthen the back to fire up the core. So the first step to wash board abs is back bending.
I thought about it and realized that at the very least I was trying to maintain the mobility and flexibility I had in my 20’s and 30’s and that in itself is a lot of work. Stress age and gravity are coming to get us all. Most people don’t realize how hard it is just to sit or stand up right. If you are doing it right it can be way more work than bench pressing 200 lbs.
And if the reasons above are not enough to get you to start including back bends in your daily routine, remember, as our postures start to round over and we lose inches of height. The best secret to looking 5 lbs lighter is to stand up straight and tall. Posture really is everything. And back bending is the one of the best ways to maintain it.
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Sending so much love and light xxx Chef MM