In yoga, backbends embody sensitivity and openness to receive what ever is offered to you. Backbends activate the heart chakra which represents our ability to be compassionate, forgive, and have unconditional love for the world.
So often we build walls around us to protect ourselves, creating a space within where we can be safe and not get hurt. When we build these walls to protect ourselves from the bad stuff, we also prevent the good stuff from coming in.
Anatomically the ribcage protects the heart, in yoga the ribcage is referred as the heart’s armor. When you soften the armor, you allow the heart to open and receive what is offered to you, and the protective walls you built begin to diminish. As a result, the heart chakra energizes, fueling the heart with compassion, acceptance, hope, and forgiveness.
Salabhasana (locust pose), Dhanurasana (bow pose), and Urdhva Dhanurasana (upward facing bow pose) are some great back bending postures that cultivate sensitivity and openness. It can be scary to put the spine in such a deep bend, just as it is scary to break down the protective walls we build for fear of being hurt. The spine softens to break down barriers and the spine strengthens to let the light of the heart grow. You will find that exposing your heart will lead to more happiness than heartache with the support of compassion, acceptance, hope and forgiveness.