LIGHT ON YOGA…camatkrasana

Also known as Wild Thing. It’s a beautiful, warming, exciting pose. A heart opening pose that lifts the chest and lungs, releases the shoulders, opens the quads and front of the hips whilst building strength in the upper back.

Backbends, just like inversions, test our mental and physical boundaries – raising questions around what our body is capable of – in particular the spine. But the spine is able to perform the full range of motion, and with a little persistence we can start to explore our bodies with more depth. The result? Enjoying the benefits of a healthy spine and living a life without major injury.

In terms of movement – the spine is articulated in four ways:

· Extension: neck moves away from chest – backbending
· Flexion: neck moves towards the chest – forward bending
· Lateral flexion: cheek moves to the shoulders – bending right to left
· Rotation: neck turns to the shoulder – twists

In Camatkrasana, a few things are going on here. The chest is lifting and the shoulders are dropping away from the lower neck – creating space for the lift. The spine, from cervical to lumbar needs to gently open and curve. Whilst the legs are strong and grounded through the feet – using this power to lift. And finally the body is supported on three points (two legs and one arm). It is a challenge pose but one that can leave you feeling joyous, energised and buzzy.

The spine may not have strength, openess and flexibilty to reach the full lift and to be honest, it changes all the time. Some days I feel so open through the spine and backbending comes easily. Other days it’s like moving cement, But that is the beauty of yoga, the journey never ends. So don’t feel discourage.

But when you are ready to try, your spine will need to be quite warmed up before attempting this – try a few Sun Salutations, strong standing poses and bridge poses from the floor. And if you’ve never attempted a backbend before I would also seek out a teacher to guide you and to assess the health and strength of your spine. It’s not something to take lightly – our spine is integral to our health and well-being. No need to explain that!

Here is a step-by-step guide.

Full version

1. Start in Adho mukka svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog).
2. Bring your weight into your right hand and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot, so you are in a side plank pose.
3. Inhale. Push your hips forward and away from you. Stay strong and grounded in your right hand.
4. Exhale. Swing your left foot back and keep your knee slightly bent.
5. Lift the chest and begin to curl back with the upper body. Drawing your shoulders and shoulder blades down and back into the body
6. Inhale. Lift your hips higher to arch further into the backbend, meanwhile keeping your right food solid to the ground – pushing down towards the earth through all four corners of your right good.
7. Keep the breath steady and gently drop the head back, lift and extend your left arm.
8. Hold for a few breaths and then return to downward facing dog before you repeat on the opposite side.

Beginner’s variation.

1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
2. Bend at your right knee and place the base of your right foot against your inner left thigh – the right knee is bent out to the side.
3. Place the right palm flat, behind the right sit buttock.
4. Inhale. Draw the left foot down – pointing the toes and push into the right hand.
5. Exhale. Lift the hips up – pushing them away from you in the direction of your bent right knee.
6. Breath evenly. Lift the chest toward the ceiling. Stay grounded through the right knee, left foot and right palm. Ensure that the foot of the right leg is behind you and not rotated to the side.
7. Hold for a few breaths and release down. Repeat on the other side.

Enjoy the freedom, power and release in the spine.

Note: If you have severe carpel tunnel syndrome or a rotator cuff injury then go easy with this pose, or avoid altogether. Also, if you have lower back issues I would consult a teacher first.

Signing off with an exhale.




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