Love them or hate them, backbends  elicit a strong response.  We often think of forward bends, or standing postures when we start practising yoga at home, but seldom opt for a backbend.

They have many benefits, but they should be approach with caution, as are less used to using our back muscles. Backbends open the front of the chest, build strength and stamina, and can help improve mood and energy levels.

But they can be hard physical work, and require focus and concentration. If you have a flexible spine they are easier to get into and sustain, and it’s more likely you will enjoy them.

However, if you avoid them in your own practice at home, the chances are it’s not that you don’t value the benefits; it’s more likely that your body finds them difficult. Maybe you are stiff along the front body or have weak back muscles, or perhaps on an emotional level you instinctively feel the need to protect a vulnerable heart from deeper openings you are not ready for.

Here’s a reminder of a few we practised in the first week of our term. Afterwards, rest with a neutral spine in downward dog or child, or lying on your back to do some leg stretches.

If you remember, we started with some observations of the breath and then movements, to start to deepen our breathing and warm up the spine and back.