|Urdhva dhanurasana photo by BeckyKP, CC License 2.0|
Some of you love these poses (I certainly do!), and some of you, eh...well I know you're not particularly fond of them, but you know they're good for you!
Back-bending and back extension poses aren't easy for many of us, especially as we get older -- our shoulders and upper back get tighter and stiffer over time since there's really nothing in our "usual" daily activities that requires us to move the spine in a backbending fashion.
|Urdhva mukha svanasana photo by Tarnalberry, CC license 2.0|
Backbends counteract our slumping habits. They're just one of the different categories of yoga poses that help to keep the spine supple in all of its directions of movement, and the back and shoulders more mobile.
In backbends we create more space in the chest so that the lungs and heart can work more efficiently. Also backbends help us feel more energetic, and give us a boost if we're feeling down -- while slumping and drooping the chest saps our physical and mental energy!
If backbending poses are difficult for you (and even if they're not!), lie over a rolled or folded blanket 3 - 5 times a week as we sometimes do in class, to gently open the chest. Take time to stretch your arms as we do at the beginning of class, and do more downward facing dog poses. Your backbends won't get easier unless you regularly practice these other poses first.
You have to regularly practice to improve your difficult poses!