This is a beautiful time of year when in between intermittent rainfalls, we start to see new signs of growth: tiny buds and new leaves forming. We know spring is coming but it unfolds slowly in its own time, it’s a magical moment of potential and new beginnings. Spring is when we embrace expansion and upward-moving energy, physically and mentally moving outwards after conserving our energy through the winter – like a fractal reflecting the cycle of nature that is all around us.
In yoga, we can embody this in our practice, consciously connecting with the support of the ground just as plants draw nutrients from the earth in order to grow. Backbends are a great example of this: pressing down to rise up. As an example, we can feel a sense of expansion and opening in Setu Bandasana, Bridge Pose, as we explore our connection with theground, press down to lift up and use the support of the feet on the floor to open up fully into a backbend.
Bridge pose can also be a good way to relieve stress and fatigue and can help to open up the lungs if you experience symptoms of asthma. Be careful to avoid doing this pose if you are suffering from any back or neck injuries.
1. Come to lie on your back on the ground, with your spine resting on themat, the knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor, heels in line with the sitting bones. Pause here as you feel the back of the head, shoulders, hips and feet resting on the floor.
2. Press firmly into the feet as you gently lift the sacrum off the ground and start to peel the spine up off the ground vertebra by vertebra, raising thehips up towards the ceiling. You want to keep the thighs parallel with each other as you come up and bring the shins perpendicular with the ground, the knees stacking over the ankles.
3. When you have come up, press each shoulderhead firmly down as you open up the chest and breathe freely. If you choose, you could also bring your arms behind your back, interlace the fingers and press the outer edges of the arms down into the ground for support.
4. When you’re ready to come out, release the hands, gently roll theshoulders away from the spine and take your time releasing the vertebrae of the spine back down to the ground.
Hug your knees into your chest to release the lower back and draw your energy back in. Rock from side to side and notice the energy circulating in the body after the backbend.