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Asanas: Backbends

Upward Facing Dog
All Levels

Upward Facing Dog Pose | Urdhva Muhka Svanasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a Up Dog

Description:(URD-vah MOO-kah svan-AHS-ahnuh).


Cat Pose
All Levels

Cat Pose | Marjaryasana

Form: Hatha

Description:


Cow Pose
All Levels

Cow Pose | Bitilasana

Form: Hatha

Description:


Sphinx Pose
All Levels

Sphinx Pose | Ardha-Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a Half Cobra Pose

Description: Cobra pose (Sanskrit: भुजङ्गसन), is a hatha yoga posture. The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back).


Cobra Pose
All Levels

Cobra Pose | Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back).


Diamond Cobra Pose
Advanced

Diamond Cobra Pose | Vajra Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back).


Bridge Pose
All Levels

Bridge Pose | Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Form: Hatha

Description:(SET-too BAHN-dah)


Extended Half Bow Pose
All Levels

Extended Half Bow Pose | Utthita Ardha Dhanurasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Backward extension of the spine is achieved with the back muscles, not by leverage with the arms. The spine is extended fully from the hips to the head before moving into this — or any — pose.


Half Bow Pose
All Levels

Half Bow Pose | Ardha Dhanurasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Backward extension of the spine is achieved with the back muscles, not by leverage with the arms. The spine is extended fully from the hips to the head before moving into this — or any — pose.


Bow Pose
All Levels

Bow Pose | Dhanurasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a Urdva Chakrasana

Description: Backward extension of the spine is achieved with the back muscles, not by leverage with the arms. The spine is extended fully from the hips to the head before moving into this — or any — pose.


Camel Pose
All Levels

Camel Pose | Ustrasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Ustrasana or Ushtrasana ("camel pose") is a hatha yoga posture, found in similar form in most of the styles of yoga. It is a very deep backward bend performed in a kneeling position. As a stretch it opens the whole of the front of the body, including the hip flexors and pectoral muscles. Traditionally it is seen as opening the "heart center". Many people find backbends difficult or challenging, because bending backwards is not an activity with which most are familiar. Practicing Ustrasana can make many beginners new to yoga feel distinctly ill, with lightheadedness or nausea being quite common after-effects. However, this does usually improve with practice. The posture improves core strength, spinal, hip and shoulder flexibility and stamina, and is one of the 26 postures included in the Bikram Yoga sequence.

Because of the intensity of this posture, it is traditionally followed by a short period of relaxation in Savasana. After performing Ustrasana, the pulse rate will often have increased considerably, while the breathing should be deep and slow.

A deeper stretch can be achieved by separating the knees slightly wider at the outset. The "full expression" of camel varies widely between practitioners, with some finding it quite difficult to progress beyond a slight backward lean; at its deepest, in very experienced and flexible yogis, the head can be between the knees.


King Pigeon Pose
Intermediate

King Pigeon Pose | Kapotāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: The Kapotāsana or the yoga pigeon Hatha yoga posture gets its name from the Kapota, which means King Pigeon.

The pigeon position can enhance physical health and mental awareness. It involves bending backward, a posture which helps to open up the chest and also strengthens the back and groin. It opens and increases the flexibility of the hips, at the same time strengthening the back, and stretching the thighs and the groin.

Variations include Rājakapotāsana (Royal pigeon), Eka Pāda Rājakapotāsana (One-Legged King Pigeon) and Salamba Kapotasana (Supported Pigeon).


Half Fish Pose
All Levels

Half Fish Pose | Ardha Matsyasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Matsyasana, or Fish Pose, is a Yoga posture. It is commonly considered a counter-pose to Sarvangasana, or shoulder stand, specifically within the context of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Primary Series.

The posture itself is in the category of backbends, where the practitioner lies on his or her back and lifts the heart (anahata) chakra by rising up on the elbows and drawing the shoulders back. The neck is lengthened, and the crown of the head Sahasrara chakra is "pointed" toward the wall behind the practitioner. As the arch of the back deepens with practice, and the heart and throat open further, the top of the head may brush the ground, but no weight should rest upon it.

In a more advanced version of the asana, the legs are lifted with toes pointed and they are held about 6 inches off the ground. The hands may also be placed before the heart in Añjali Mudrā.


Fish Pose
All Levels

Fish Pose | Matsyasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a Lord of the Fishes Pose

Description: Matsyasana, or Fish Pose, is a Yoga posture. It is commonly considered a counter-pose to Sarvangasana, or shoulder stand, specifically within the context of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Primary Series.

The posture itself is in the category of backbends, where the practitioner lies on his or her back and lifts the heart (anahata) chakra by rising up on the elbows and drawing the shoulders back. The neck is lengthened, and the crown of the head Sahasrara chakra is "pointed" toward the wall behind the practitioner. As the arch of the back deepens with practice, and the heart and throat open further, the top of the head may brush the ground, but no weight should rest upon it.

In a more advanced version of the asana, the legs are lifted with toes pointed and they are held about 6 inches off the ground. The hands may also be placed before the heart in Añjali Mudrā.


Lotus Cobra Pose
Intermediate

Lotus Cobra Pose | Padma Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha

Description: The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back). Legs are in lotus position.


Feathered Peacock Pose
Intermediate

Feathered Peacock Pose | Pincha Mayurasana

Form: Hatha

Description: This posture resembles a peacock (Hindi: Mayur), hence the name. In this yoga posture oneself is raised like a horizontal stick holding the floor with both the palms with the support of elbows.

This is an effective method for weakness of semen. It is very helpful for diabetic patients. It is best asana for strengthen arms, shoulders, abdomen and back. This asana is very effective for digestive organs. The asana stimulates and enhances the pranic flow to the pericardium meridians It is helpful to calm the brain and helps relieving stress and mild depression.


Fish Lotus Pose
Intermediate

Fish Lotus Pose | Padma Matsyasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Matsyasana, or Fish Pose, is a Yoga posture. It is commonly considered a counter-pose to Sarvangasana, or shoulder stand, specifically within the context of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Primary Series.

The posture itself is in the category of backbends, where the practitioner lies on his or her back and lifts the heart (anahata) chakra by rising up on the elbows and drawing the shoulders back. The neck is lengthened, and the crown of the head Sahasrara chakra is "pointed" toward the wall behind the practitioner. As the arch of the back deepens with practice, and the heart and throat open further, the top of the head may brush the ground, but no weight should rest upon it.

In a more advanced version of the asana, the legs are lifted with toes pointed and they are held about 6 inches off the ground. The hands may also be placed before the heart in Añjali Mudrā.


King Cobra Pose
Intermediate

King Cobra Pose | Raja Bhujangasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Bhujangasana, or Cobra pose (Sanskrit: भुजङ्गसन), is a hatha yoga posture. The name comes from the Sanskrit words bhujanga (snake, serpent) and asana (pose).

Bhujangasana may strengthen the spine stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firm the buttocks, and relieve stress and fatigue.

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. Bhujangasana is often followed by Salabhasana.

Common postural errors during this pose include over-arching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back).


Half Wheel Pose
All Levels

Half Wheel Pose | Ardha Chakrasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Half Wheel Pose is a standing pose. Stand upright and slowly bend backwards. The hands are together and index fingers may be pointed. As the legs are coming down behind the head, stretch the ribs and abdomen so that arch is formed. Hold in this position for few seconds with normal breathing and then slowly go back to the upright position and relax.


Wheel Pose
Intermediate

Half Wheel Pose | Chakrasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a. Urdhva Dhanurasana

Description: Lie on your back, bend both knees and place the feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Press both feet into the floor, inhale and lift the hips, raising the spine from the floor. Engage the thighs, buttocks and mula bandha.

Place the palms underneath the shoulders with the fingers pointed towards the head and the elbows shoulder width apart.

Inhale and press into the palms and straighten the arms to lift the shoulders and head off the floor. Keep the legs and arms as straight as possible to lift the hips and chest up.

Breathe and hold for 2-5 breaths.

To release: exhale and slowly bend the elbows, tuck the chin and lower the head, neck and then shoulders to the floor. Bend the knees to slowly roll the spine and hips back to the floor.


Locust Pose
All Levels

Locust Pose | Salabhasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Salabhasana (Sanskrit: शलभासन, Śalabhāsana - translated as "locust pose") is a yoga posture. It is a form of back bend, or spine stretch, using the strength of the upper and middle back to lift the weight of the legs as high as possible from a starting position face down on the floor. Most people find Salabhasana to be a very "strong" i.e. difficult and challenging posture to practice, and as such it not only improves flexibility and coordination, but also has strength and stamina benefits.

In several styles of yoga (e.g. Bikram Yoga, Astanga Yoga) Salabhasana is commonly performed after Bhujangasana, "cobra pose", which is a related posture working on a different part of the spine.

In the Bikram style, the posture referred to as Salabhasana has three stages which follow one after the other. The posture of the same name in Astanga corresponds to stage three of the Bikram style posture.

Beginners may find that their shoulder and elbow flexibility is not sufficient to allow them to get the hands palm down right underneath the body, or that it is quite uncomfortable or even slightly painful to be in that position.