Anuvittasana ‘standing back bend’ is a basic pose that allows us to work on opening the chest and strengthening the spine for deeper back bends.
Standing with the feet fairly close together and the head, neck, and spine in straight alignment, relax the body and breathe deeply, finding your stability and ease.
Use your exhale to relax the shoulders down, rooting the shoulder blades down.
Inhale and slowly raise the arms overhead and stretch up towards the ceiling, creating space between the vertebrae of the spine.
Exhale and bend back, as far as is comfortable, pushing the hips forward and tilting the pelvis slightly to avoid compressing the lower back.
Inhale, and stretch up through the spine and arms to create more space, and use the next exhale to bend a bit deeper if your body allows for it.
Continue to inhale and exhale slowly and deeply, deepening your stretch, within the limits of your body.
Hold the final pose for as long as is comfortable while breathing deeply, and when you’re ready slowly use your inhale to come out of the back bend, exhaling your arms back down to your sides.
Never strain the body or push past what feels comfortable for you at this point in time.
This asana opens the chest and heart, activating our anahata (heart) chakra. It also strengthens the muscles and nerves of the spine. It can be used to relieve back aches and headaches, and can be therapeutic for high blood pressure. Back bends increase energy and stimulate the pituitary gland and thyroid.
Take caution if you have sustained injury or have issues in the lower back (lumbar, sacrum, coccyx) or in the neck (cervical). Seek out a professional to assist with helping the body work through its limitations without risking further injury.