Most of us this summer will have seen the beautiful Instagram pictures of stretchy people doing back bends in front of sun sets. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this practise, back bends usually involve lying on your back, stomach or knees, with the spine lengthening and stretching as you bend yourself into a certain position. For one, they look stunning, like human origami, secondly, they are incredibly good for your spine and your core, helping you to strengthen yourself while improving your flexibility. Here are a few more reasons why you should stop watching “Love Island” and get out that yoga mat, please read on for our Top 5 Benefits of Daily Back Bends!
1. Improves posture
The more we start to exercise and move around, the more our spine falls into alignment. This means that we begin to put our shoulders back more instinctively, along with straightening our necks, creating a natural confidence-boosting “S” curvature . Improved posture reduces back pain and and means that you will generally be far more comfortable walking around.
2. Wakes you up and energises your body
As all of us know, there is nothing quite like a long, luxurious stretch in the morning. So why not step it up a notch? Bending your spine stimulates the nervous system, meaning that you feel more energised and awake. It’s a brilliant way to start your day!
3. Opens the shoulders
Shoulders are often an area that store and hold a great deal of tension. Bad posture due to lack of stretching will cause them to ‘roll in’, which could even restrict easy breathing. Daily back bending, if even only for a few minutes, will gradually open this entire area right up.
4. Makes your brain happy!
Regular exercise, including bending and stretching, (think ‘tai chi’) increases the production of endorphins that lift your mood as well as alleviate pain. This has been proven time and time again to be an excellent remedy for depression and anxiety. When you bend and stretch, you allow your body to relieve tension that has built up in your muscles and your brain, causing you to feel decidedly calmer and more settled, grounded and ‘together’ which allows you to be more fully aware and fully focused on whatever you’re doing.
5. Helps to compress and flush kidneys
Sounds a bit strange perhaps but, when you bend your back, you create pressure at the bottom of your spine. This then helps to compress your kidneys, allowing them to gain a fresh flow of blood and oxygen; when you go from being stretched to relaxed. This is a process that has been practiced by yogis for hundreds of years, so why not give it a go?
Who knew there could be SO many benefits to be gained simply by bending your spine in a certain way? All you need to remember is to do these movements safely, slowly and carefully; never force yourself to bend if it doesn’t feel comfortable or right. Other than that, light some incense (or switch on your diffuser with your favourite essential oil), grab some green tea and let the good feelings flow…How does stretching help you? Let us know below or @ KeepFitKingdom ! (Check out these previous yoga articles for more…)