… if you only bend your lower back.
Ouch! Just looking at this picture hurts! And the one below is no better–off the pages of Yoga Journal. They had a pretty good article about Cobra Pose, unfortunately promoted as ” one pose for a healthy, pain free back”. The image and the article are describing two different things, and that shows one of the most disturbing problems with yoga we have today: The images are all wrong!
Remember the ones I dissected in my older post about Yoga problems?
I’m annoyed with the extreme backbends. Even the models aren’t able to bend the way they should (in an even arch throughout their spine, from top to bottom), so you see a very sharp angle in the low back, and otherwise one straight line.
Backbends should help open the upper back, not overextend the lower! Good teachers know that, and explain it appropriately, but we have images all over that give us the idea that in Cobra your arms should be straight, in camel your head should touch your feet. Undereducated Yoga instructors are perpetuating the problem.
And now I’m reading about instructors that yell at students to push themselves harder. What is this? Yoga boot camp? No surprise that more and more aspiring Yogis end up in the emergency room.
For our workshops I’m using images that show the least straining version of yoga poses: Here is our Cobra. Yes, this is a Cobra pose. If you can REALLY extend your upper back, then you can lift yourself a little higher. Otherwise work on length, pulling your chest forward, your shoulders back and down.
1. Ground the hip points down into the mat. 2. Point the tailbone towards your feet, pulling the low abdominals towards the spine. 3. Extend your upper back forward, before you even think of lifting.
This way you strengthen and lengthen your back instead of damaging it.
Did you ever hurt yourself in a yoga class? Please leave a comment!