41 backbends

baby cobra

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) is one of the poses we are practicing in the backbends sequence this week.

Today I turned 41.

I am the healthiest and probably the happiest I have ever been in my entire 41 years of living.

My day will be spent teaching a cycling class this morning, then some sort of yummy lunch, followed by a massage and then dinner out with Curt and friends at our favorite restaurant, Le Bistro Montage.

This week my yoga sequence is backbends. One of the first yoga classes I taught (with my friend Sandra) was a backbends sequence and we named our class: Bringing Your Heart Into Backbends. I really like that so I am going with that name this week as well.

My yoga teacher training lineage goes back to BKS Iyengar. Iyengar believed backbends were important to practice as we age. He lived to 95 and died last year. He also believed that on your birthday you practice one backbend for each year of your life.

So this morning I practiced 41 backbends. This is the first year I have practiced this tradition and plan to continue it through the years.

I had first heard of this tradition last year when Tony Briggs, a yoga teacher in the Bay Area-ish, was turning 70 and was hosting a class of 70 backbends.

Right before I left the Bay Area one of my favorite people and yoga teachers turned 50. On her birthday we did 50 backbends in class.

41 years of being awesome

Yup, 41 years of being awesome.

As I wrote my backbend sequence for my classes this week I wasn’t sure I could get 41 backbends in. Most of my classes are an hour with one being 75 minutes and two being 90 minutes.

I decided that I will practice 41 backbends today. And my classes, well, we’ll just do as many as the time allows for us to practice. (The classes I have taught so far are averaging 25 backbends.)

Most of the backbends in my classes are baby backbends. My classes are for all levels. And modifications and props are available to make poses accessible for every (type, kind, shape of) body.

A backbend practice makes me feel energized, taller, more open and helps to eliminate low back pain while also breaking up the rigidity of the spine. Most of us spend our days hunched over, whether it is at a computer, in the car, looking at our hand-held electronic devices or just having bad posture (that’s me!).

Backbends can also help relieve anxiety, stress, insomnia, restlessness and depression.

Backbends bring our bodies into extension. The opposite of what they are normally in (flexion). Opening our hearts, bring backbends from the back of our heart center does a body good.

My yoga sequences themes run Wednesdays through Mondays (through Tuesday if I’m subbing). So there are still lots of chances to practice backbends with me. My full public schedule is here.

Come celebrate my 41 years and many more to come.

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