The second (and eleventh) asana in the 12 posture Suryanamaskar is the overhead backward bend or hasta uttanasana.
• From pranamasana, raise hands upwards overhead with the elbows extended, palms open and stretched out, and upper arms in line with ears as you arch the spine backwards in a backward bend.
• As you begin the movement, the legs start moving forward at the ankle joints as a unit from lower legs to the hips with the hip joints in extension, the pelvis rotates anterior and the spine from the sacrum to the cervical region starts a gradual and uniform extension movement, the shoulders are neutral with shoulder blades rotated upwards as the gaze fixes upwards on hands or ceiling.
• Muscles: The transversus abdominus contracts initially for stabilization, and back extensors, like multifidi and erector spinae, contract to bring about extension, the gluteus maximus contracts as do the dorsiflexors with eccentric elongation of gastric-soleus to allow forward translation. Multiple muscles provide lateral stability like gluteus medius at pelvis and obliques at trunk to produce symmetrical movement.
• Breathe in slowly during this movement, expanding the chest wall anteriorly and laterally. As you breathe in, the diaphragm flattens with the contraction and pelvic floor muscles relax to accommodate the abdominal organs. Hold breath 2-3 seconds at end of completing posture.
“Om Ravaye namaha” (I bow to the one praised by all)
Ami Gandhi is a licensed physical therapist in the state of California. She is the owner of StableMovement Physical Therapy, a small boutique practice in San Jose that offers patient centered, one-on-one, hands-on physical therapy.