I picked Sphinx pose this week because it's a beginner pose for back bending poses. You can do Sphinx pose in stead of Cobra pose / Bhujangasana, which places weight on the wrists and has a stronger curve in the lower back.
Sphinx pose is also a pose used a lot in Yin yoga. The idea is to hold this pose for minutes at a time in Yin yoga. The benefits being that it creates and maintains a healthy lower back curve. Long periods of sitting and growing older seem to cause low-back flatness. Low-back flatness seems to be the cause of back pain and lots of other other back problems.
I really recommend practicing Sphinx pose for minutes at a time, especially if you experience stiffness in your back. Sphinx pose can help you work through this stiffness. Of course if you already have back pain and problems, consult with your doctor to make sure it's safe for you to practice this pose.
When you practice Sphinx pose minutes at a time, try and relax in the pose as much as you can (Yin style).
I practiced this pose for a couple of weeks, every day for about 5 minutes- though I did increase the length when my back was ready. It made all the difference in a healthy and pain free lower back, increasing flexibility in my spine and thus becoming more comfortable in back bending poses.
You can practice Sphinx pose in many ways to make it right for your body.
Variations of Sphinx pose:
- When Sphinx is too strong, rest on your ribs, sliding the elbows further away (as far away as necessary) to reduce compression in the lower back.
- Use a pillow, or bolster underneath the arms to deepen the pose, or simply come into Cobra pose / Bhujangasana.
- You can spread the legs apart or keep them together for different bodies and effects.
- You can place a bolster or blanket under the pubic bone, great when you are pregnant.
- You can support your head with your hands if the head feels too heavy to hold.
- Sphinx pose strengthens the spine and opens the lungs, chest and shoulders.
- Great to counteract mild depression and to raise your energy.
- Sphinx pose prepares the body for deeper more advanced backbends.
If you find it difficult to take 5 min per day out to practice Sphinx pose, watch television while in this pose!
Here is a step-by-step description of Sphinx pose and more of the benefits listed.