yoga asasna eka pada

Yoga Asana Backbending – Over doing it?

How far should we take our back bends?

For many of us extreme back bends are not what the body needs! Too oft yoga practitioners strive after postures like urdhva dhanurasana and kapotanasana with a fierce passion.  I have a students who is doing everything she can to get into full Kapotasana (arguably one of the most intense back bends possible). Whilst flexibility is vital in the spine for good health the long term effects of extreme backbends may actually be a weakening of the spine that can lead to all sorts of issues.

Remember yoga lovers that you don’t get any prizes for bending yourself in half or twisting your body into a pretzel.  (A boost to the ego maybe!) Yoga can offer us much much, more than just form.  In practice seek compassion for your body, awareness, softness with strength etc etc, Allow you body to guide you into a deeper experience of your subtle self … you don’t need to push it into an experience that is beyond the natural and inherent movement that the body is designed for! leave that to the circus folk!

Take it from someone who knows! I have been there – full splits, leg behind the head postures, contortionistic twist yada yada yada. The Buddha was on to something when he spoke of the middle path – neither too tight nor too loose- it applies to all things in life

My partner has a lovely simple saying and one that always brings me back to a balanced and even approach.


 Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana – Mandala

What to do with the old yoga photos of me doing all those crazy backbends? With people posting their asanas on every corner of the internet doing the same just isn’t so appealing! I enjoyed a bit of creativity in transforming this old photo of me in eka pada urdhva dhanurasana into an expression of geometry and a beautiful mandala.

Scarlett in the bahamas doing yoga asana eka pada urdhva dhanurasana
Scarlett in the bahamas exploring yoga asana eka pada urdhva dhanurasana

Scarlett will be guiding advanced yoga practitioner/teachers during the next level 2 , 300 hr yoga teacher training programs in Goa and Austria  to honour their limitations and practice in a sensitive way that allows the body to naturally release and open and connects the practitioner to the more subtle aspects of their Being.

‘Very often a gentle approach creates much deeper, sustainable and safe progress’

One thought on “Yoga Asana Backbending – Over doing it?”

  1. Backbends can be used as beautiful heart openers. They definitely have an amazing effect on the whole body feeling if practiced in a mindful way. On the other hand they can be quite dangerous if we over do them.
    I know somebody first hand who slightly broke a vertebra attempting Kapotasana. I myself had times when I was practicing Second Series and beyond on a regular base, where I experienced discomfort in my lower spine during the afternoons after my body had cooled down again.
    It largely depends as well on external factors. In India e.g., where it is warm day and night, the body opens much easier than in colder climats. I can do things in India which I can not do back home in germany. It is a matter of getting to know your own limits and challange yourself mindfully. If you can not breathe deep and full in a posture – you are over doing it! Don´t be triggered by photos of super flexible people… Flexible people have to go further to feel the same like less flexible people, which is not necessarily an advantage! Flexibility is inherent to a large extend…
    Just take it with David Swenson, who sais: Just because you are doing advanced asanas, doesn´t mean that you are an advanced human being.
    Om Shanti

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