• Maria Pereira

Why Do I Do Backbends?

Every yoga and movement practitioner has certain movements that resonate with them more so than others. For me, that would have to be backbends. The “why” has evolved over the years but one thing is true and that is that backbends have always been a part of my life, from gymnastics, to dance, to yoga.

Yoga & Energy

Within us all there is a duality which has been described across cultures for millennia. That duality is the masculine and feminine energies we all possess. In yoga's understanding of energy this is represented as the Ida (cooling, lunar, feminine) and Pingala (heating, solar, masculine).

In Yogic energetics, Nadis are vibrations or conduits of energy that run along and crisscross through the master Nadi - the Sushumna. The Sushumna runs along the spine beginning at the base of the spine and continues all the way to the crown of the head. At every point that Ida and Pingala intersect along the Sushumna Nadi is a Chakra or energy center. This starts with with Muladhara (root at the base of the spine) and ending with Sahasrara (crown at the top of the head).

The Dance of Equal Partners

The junction of these Masculine and Feminine energies crossing the master line that marks the most important points - it is not one or the other that takes precedence. Each of these main points represents energetically, as well as mentally and emotionally a quality of being. The system is interwoven and if one nadi is not fluid it affects the entire system. Balance and fluidity for both expressions is equally important. And, perhaps most interesting of all, we all have these balancing dual energies within, regardless of how we identify in the world.

That's why, for me, when I flow through backbends within my practice I feel the most connected to that movement of energy throughout my body. The dynamic nature of the poses make me feel as though a hose has been un-kinked and the water can now speed through. These put me in touch, and back into balance, with other aspects of my being.

Reminding Me of More of Myself

Much of my physical movement resides within the Pingala or more masculine energies most days. Whether it’s weight lifting or training in Muay Thai I am often engaging in practices that require a great deal of heat, stamina, and force. So when I step on my mat for my Asana practice, there is a deep intuitive need to counterbalance. Less force, and more flow.

Backbends provide that counterbalance for my body and my being. They bring out my feminine energy in a way that feels fluid and graceful. I feel as if I am engaged in a dance on my mat with my energies; flowing, curling, coiling. This is of course not to say that it is the only way to tap into multiple and dynamic aspects, but this is what's true for me.

Ultimately, I hope practicing backbends with me empowers you to explore how you best find that dance of energies, and balance within yourself. Flow with me in my Build a Better Backbend Series or weekly in my live class.

I'd love to know, what nourishes you, and how can you bring that into your life? Let me know on social media by tagging me in your backbend post @MPereiraYoga


Maria Pereira is a Yoga Teacher and Trainer who brings deep wisdom, introspection, and perfect dance between hard-and-soft to her classes. Students in Maria's class benefit from her dedication to craft, and her lifelong approach to learning. In addition to utilizing her platform to help others fall in love with mindful movement on the mat, Maria lives her Yoga off the mat sharing her platform to promote social justice, equality, and lending her voice to support those who suffer injustice.

When she is not leading classes or trainings, Maria resides in Virginia. But you also may just find her getting lost in the desert or traversing the canyon trails in her home state of Arizona.

Maria is a featured teacher and trainer at Honest Soul Yoga and on Practice Everywhere, and her Build a Better Backbend Series just released. Flow with Maria.

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