One of my favourite light backbend exercises is the Sphinx pose. It is an easy ‘go to’ pose, with alot of benefits and is a beginner level yoga pose which also serves as an excellent warm up pose. It opens up your shoulder and chest area and stretches the spine. It is also a great way to alleviate stress and stimulate your abdominal organs.
This pose prepares the body for deep backbends. It is a variation of the Cobra pose that is less challenging for the body.
- Strengthens various areas of the body such as: back, spine and the core body. Tones the body and develops strong muscles. The tightning of the glute muscles provides support to the hip, spine and pelvis.
- Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders and abdominal muscles.
- Regular practice of this pose combined with slow and deep breathing, improves your posture, provides relief from neck and back pains and releases tension from the upper back and it helps relieve stress.
- This pose enhances your blood circulation. Also, it gives your kidneys a gentle massage and stimulates your adrenal glands.
- Practitioners with spine injury and stiff backs should avoid performing this pose. If you have neck issues, keep your neck relaxed and you chin close to your chest area while doing this asana.
- The Sphinx Pose places considerable pressure on the abdominal area - therefore pregnant women should refrain from practicing it.
Sphinx pose is an asana which can be praticed on all levels, here is a step-by-step guide:
1. Lie face down on your tummy with legs together or hip width apart.
2. Lift your kneecaps, squeeze the thighs and buttocks and press the tops of your feet firmly into the ground. Engage mula bandha/root lock (activate the pelvic floor) and press the pubic bone into the ground.
3. Slide your hands back until your elbows are directly under your shoulders, press the forearms down into the floor and inhale and lift the head and chest off of the floor, keeping the neck in line with the spine.
4. Keep the elbows close to your sides and use the arms to lift you up even higher. Drop the shoulders down and back and open up the chest. Draw the chin in towards the back of the neck and gaze up at the third eye point (the space between your eyebrows).
5. Breathe and hold the pose for 2-6 breaths.
6. To release: exhale and slowly lower the chest and head to the floor. Turn the head to one side, slide the arms alongside your body and rest.
Please remember that small changes can have massive impact on how we think and feel - even if it seems too easy. With consistent practice and attention, positive results will follow. - Practice light yoga daily - whether it is a couple of minutes of meditation and 2-3 yoga poses - experience the results yourself :)