Back bending with ease and grace requires that the Hip flexors (front of the hips), shoulders, and the whole of the front of the body are flexible and the muscles in the back are strong.
Yin Yoga is a way of opening the body with passive stretches held for a prolonged period of time. If practised correctly it is a very sure and safe way to work on increased flexibility.
The Principles Of Yin Yoga
Not Warmed up: The asanas should be done when the body is not warmed up. When the body is warm the muscle will stretch, when it is cold it is easier to access the connective tissue.
Stillness: There should be stillness within the posture. Movement engages the muscles and the aim is to keep the muscle out of the equation and work on the connective tissue. If there is strong discomfort and a need to move then obviously move, but keep the movement to a minimum.
How Long: The postures should be held for a minimum of 1 minute and a maximum of 20. They are often held for 5 minutes.
Edge: As with any asana work you go to your edge where you feel a comfortable stretch and no further. Because the postures are held for so long it is best to start away from the edge so the posture can be held for 5 minutes without moving. This is a matter of personal experimentation.
Safe Stretching: As with all asana, sensations in your body and your intuition will tell you what is a safe stretch.
A sharp pain, especially in the knees or spine, is the body saying “NO”.
An electrical sensation or fizzing is the body saying “ENOUGH, STOP!”
If the sensation continues when you have finished the asana then you probably did too much so back off next time.
Know the difference between muscles stretching and bone-on-bone contact. There will come a point in any stretch where you reach the limit for your body. A point when you are no longer stretching muscles but just pressing bone on bone. It is important that if you have reached your natural limit in a stretch that you accept it and stop.
A dull ache in the middle of the muscle is usually OK.
Tune into what is happening to work out what is a safe stretch for you.
What to do: When you are in the posture it is a good time to work on awareness and focus and patience. It is also a good time to meditate or do energy awareness exercises.
Alignment: In passive postures, there is a need for alignment but it is much softer then in a dynamic practice. Allow the muscles to relax so there is the minimum amount of engagement needed to stay in the posture.
Bandhas: In passive stretching don’t use bandhas.
Breath: use a very gentle subtle ujjayi breath.