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Our asana practice is filled with metaphors, if we pay attention. Our practice tends to mirror our lives; it is on our mats where we can explore how we handle challenges, how we treat ourselves, and whether we lean toward our fears or shy away from them. There is also much to be gained from our practice – lessons that we learn that we can carry off of our mats and into our lives.
Of all of the asana groups, the most illuminating part of our practice might be found in backbends and heart-openers.
Here are lessons we can take from backbending asanas to strengthen our practice and enrich our lives:

  1. Be bold. Backbends invite us to come in contact with with the physical limits of our bodies. We feel our way through our edges, until we come to the point where we can no longer increase the depth of the pose– which can feel confronting for many. We are invited to sit with the fear that may arise, with our own limitations, and to dive even deeper into the experience. To do so requires a certain boldness, a willingness to move in a way that is beneficial for the body and mind, but that stretches us past our perceived boundaries and requires us to trust in ourselves.
  1. Be courageous. As we, on a physical level, open up our hearts in our practice, energy and stored emotions are released. Many of us spend a great deal of time in a state of protection, closed off from others, and as our yoga teacher asks us to crack ourselves open, we sometimes find that we hit resistance. If you’re feeling resistant to backbends, good. This is a beautiful opportunity for you to explore why – perhaps you’re holding on to thoughts or feelings that are no longer serving you.
  1. Be compassionate. As we work through the spine, it is important to be compassionate with ourselves and to honor our bodies. We may ask, is today the day to discover new depth in my practice, or will it better serve me to pull back? Exercising compassion and developing an understanding that wherever we are in our practice today is perfect, allows us to, in turn, bring this compassion into our lives and to practice greater self-care.

 
Check back in next week for more insight on backbends, and the lessons we can learn from them!
Looking to deepen your backbend practice? Join Ashley at Kula Yoga on Saturday, Oct 24 from 12-2 p.m., for her workshop, “Blissed Out Backbends.” Book in studio or online.
 
About the author: Ashley Dunlop is an inspired, compassionate and supportive yoga instructor who loves guiding students to reach the next level of their practice. Backbends and heart-openers are Ashley’s favorite group of asanas, and she is elated to share her experience and expertise with those looking to elevate their overall state of being, deepen their practice and live with a heightened state of awareness, compassion and openness.

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