May is coming up. Time for a new challenge, time for heart opening backbends.
For me this is going to be one of my biggest challenges. I am not a very big fan of backbends. And that’s put in a nice way. They haven’t been (a big) part of my practice for a long, long time. Lately I slowly got into them and slowly got okay with them. At the same time, I know how good they are for me. Doing them, ‘everything’ hurts, but afterwards my low back feels way better and I feel ‘lighter’.
So it’s time to get serious about it. Not for the physical advantage of it – although that is nice as well – but for the energetic benefits. Backbends open our hearts. That’s the reason why people get so ’emotional’ doing them. Backbends bring the energy up the spine and clean our nervous system and burn all blockages on their way. In that way backbends awaken old emotions, who can bring us in an emotional state. The trick is not to walk away from them. If you do, the old emotion stays stuck in your body. What you want to do, is breathe calm through it, so the old emotion can ‘burn’.
I know this is easier set than done. Most backbends are pretty hard to do. In forward bends we can isolate muscles, so when we do an asana we are only stretching a single muscle or a group of muscles. Bending backwards we engage almost all the muscles at the front side of our body. I will go into that deeper another time. Some people bend easily backwards by nature, most of us have problems. So if you are one of them, don’t worry: it’s normal. Just try to stay calm in your backbend and breathe.
The emotions in us get triggered, because our heart is the center of our feeling. Our heart chakra (anahata) is the bridge between the ‘lower’ self-centered identity and the ‘higher’ True Self. When this center is opened, we start to feel our connection to all living beings and things around us. We no longer live through our ego, focussing on our own happiness, but live for the happiness of all beings.
Getting rid of all our old emotions, all our old blockages is one of the main goals in yoga. Old emotions and blockages hold us back, prevent that we can enjoy life freely. They feed our ego and self pity. Opening our heart we burn these old emotions and become free again, enjoying and embracing life more and more.
The heart center is one of the hardest to open. It’s also – together with the hips – one that brings out a lot of old emotions. We have the choice to walk away from them and stay the way we are or to walk our path, face our fears and face our old emotions. I know that I – for sure – have to clean out some old garbage. That’s the reason the May month will be for me a month full of backbending. It’s up to you what you decide. If you are going to include more backbends in your challenge, be sure to look for the guidance of a qualified teacher, maybe look for somebody else to fall back on and chat to and inform the people around you, because you are in for a nice ride.