In the yoga asana practice, backbends are known to be heart-openers. Poses like Ustrasana and Wheel, truly offer us freedom across the entire chest wall by stretching muscles, energizing circulation, expanding our lungs and bringing space around our hearts.
So it occurred to me as I was telling one of my students about the heart-opening benefits of backbends, are people who do yoga more sensitive? As we bring more space around our heart center, does that increase our capacity to love? Have there been studies done to show that yogis tend to be more caring, compassionate individuals? I doubt there is research to support this, but think about it.
Yoga has the power to open us up to something greater within ourselves and to what surrounds us. Yoga teaches us about self-acceptance, aka self-love. When you view yoga from this point, it makes sense that yoga can make us more sensitive and more open-minded individuals. Focusing on ones’ self in yoga asana (particularly during backbends) by devoting full attention (100%) to breath and movement, we start to become more aware of subtle physical sensations, shifts in our thinking and the space we’ve created in our hearts and minds.
Ultimately, backbends teach us how to react more calmly and clearly to dramatic, and often unexpected, sensations/situations that life throws our way. And the more we practice, the better prepared we become at gathering the grace required to act compassionately, calmly and centered when our lives are tossed upside down (kind of like a backbend).
All of this leads me to think yoga is a type of pain/sanity management minus the medication and therapist. Hmmm…sounds like a start to another blog entry. TBD.